Reaction Weekend

Blurring the line between fact and fiction in political dramas

BY Iain Dale | tweet IainDale   /  17 October 2020

The Comey Rule, Sky Atlantic

James Comey was Director of the FBI when Donald Trump came to power. Indeed, some say that without Comey, Trump might never have won the election. It was he who ordered that the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s private emails be reopened shortly before the election, and then after the election exonerated her. Clinton herself certainly blames Comey for her defeat. But there are few people in this world less grateful than Donald Trump and it didn’t take long for him to dispense with Comey’s services. Comey was told he was sacked while on a trip to Los Angeles.

This Sky Atlantic drama is certainly entertaining. Fictional scenes, presumably based on reality, are interspersed with genuine news footage, but the weakness in this sort of film is that the viewer is often left wondering what is true and what isn’t. The constant wondering which conversations actually took place, and which have been added for dramatic effect acts as a distraction from the plot. Given that The Comey Rule is based on Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty, you would think the drama followed the book’s narrative quite closely. But the longer I watched it, the less I was convinced.

Unlike most of his predecessors, Comey was not hesitant in embracing the limelight. His close colleagues were uncomfortable with this and there many scenes in the first episode where many FBI staff were in a constant state of tutting. Jeff Daniels, best known to UK viewers for his starring role in The Newsroom, captures Comey’s undoubted narcissistic and ego-driven nature very well. He portrays a man trying to do the right thing, but constantly in touch with his own, sometimes denied, sense of self-publicity.


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