HBO delivers some of the best content of the 21st century. Think “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” for three quick examples. The pay network also produces some of the most partisan product on television.
Now, the network wants to get viewers good and mad about current campaign finance regulations. HBO is teaming once more with Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to craft a documentary on the subject.
The hot-button documentary is expected to air this Fall just as the presidential campaign is reaching a fever pitch.
“I think it’s more a reality check on the American politics. It’s so interesting because you look back in history, Teddy Roosevelt had to be in the back of a chug-a-lug to solicit votes. Now you have these $10,000 a plate dinners.” -- HBO Documentary Films President Sheila Nevins:
It’s an important issue, no doubt. Money colors politics, and it’s up for debate if changes needed to be made regarding the status quo. But from HBO? The network serves as an unofficial SuperPAC for Democrats and has for some time. Here are just a few programming examples:
- “Real Time with Bill Maher” -- The long-running show’s host hammers the GOP on a weekly basis. His panel, which almost always leans left, typically follows suit.
- “Last Week Tonight” -- Former “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver skewers the news from a consistently liberal point of view.
- “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama” (2009) -- This hagiography recalled Obama’s rise to the White House. It could have doubled as an Obama campaign video.
- “Right America, Feeling Wronged” (2009) -- This Pelosi documentary got slapped as “Drive by journalism” by The Washington Post for treating conservatives so shabbily.
- “Game Change” (2012) -- Arguably the network’s most biased blast of programming portrayed Gov. Sarah Palin as a simpleton who bumbled her way onto Sen. John McCain’s presidential ticket.
- “Recount” -- (2008) The Bush v. Gore legal battle got retold as an HBO telepicture, one which tilted the ideological scales in favor of Team Gore.
That’s millions of dollars spent to aid the Democratic party. That doesn’t include the press each of those programs or films received at the time. And then there’s how often HBO takes full advantage of current campaign finance laws to help liberal politicians. Consider:
- Earlier this month, HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo co-hosted a dinner for President Obama with tickets going for $10,000 per person.
- Last year, former HBO executive James Costos’ home hosted a $10,000 Obama fundraiser. Costo’s partner officially threw the bash, but Costos’ Obama ties helped him snag his current gig -- U.S. Ambassador to Spain.
- Lombardo threw a 2014 fundraiser for President Obama with tickets starting at $10,000 but going as high as $33,400 for VIPs.
- That same year, Lombardo welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to his home for a $5,000 per person roundtable chat.
- Lombardo is on Team Hillary, throwing $2,700 to her campaign a few weeks back.
This is just a partial listing.
For argument’s sake, let’s say new regulations kick in after 2017, possible inspired by HBO’s documentary. Suddenly, the rules regarding campaign finance donations are tougher than ever before. That won’t stop Maher, Oliver or HBO’s deep slate of original programming from hitting the GOP and defending Democrats.
That part of the campaign finance reform picture likely won’t appear in Pelosi’s film.