Marlow: The focus on minor details, like the supposed 1972 cocaine bust contained in the controversial afterward, while letting the other details in the book slip away, is all too symptomatic of the political climate these days. In watching the spin by the Republicans after the first debate, it appears they feel that if they repeat things often enough, the average American will believe it.
Galinsky: Look at what is going on with the Kitty Kelly book. Everyone's just talking about Sharon Bush saying he did cocaine, which she may have recanted, but everybody who was there said, "No, she said it." That's the only focus of the book rather than the stuff about the financial dealings and everything else that had to do with the Bush family dynasty. Then you look at the CBS [National] Guard papers. Everyone kind of forgot what they said. The content of them was true. No one is disputing that, only whether or not these papers were faked. It's kind of a brilliant way to change the discussion, which it did. You notice what happened is that it all went away. That's what happened with the book [Fortunate Son]. When the book came out, cocaine was the biggest story in the nation. "George Bush did cocaine!" The book comes out, and it's, "This crazy liar is the guy who said it." The story literally disappears.
Marlow: Was anyone ever critical of your playing a little fast and loose with the chronology? Such as the lawsuit occurring before the 60 Minutes interview? It's not evident by the structure of the film. In fact, the structure helps to make the audience sympathetic to the evolving story.
Galinsky: We're not journalists, so we didn't make it in a journalistic way. It's the same way that someone might take a book and turn it into a movie. If the lawsuit came when it did, it wasn't emotionally true to the story. It needed to have the emotions go in a particular way to keep people interested or to keep people involved.
Hawley: There was a journalist that was interviewing us about our experiences and I think we mentioned that after the press conference at the BEA [BookExpo America] that we had jumped in the car and everyone was kind of giddy and laughing. That was sort of the circumstances and it's factually correct. But it was sort of a nervous laughter in that, "We just did this big thing and it looks like it's probably going to be ignored or it's going to be serious in a bad way." I think everyone, to a certain extent, understood that. We didn't articulate that fully to the journalist. He actually wrote a piece and then quarreled with us at a later point about whether we thought everything was hunky dory after this press conference. There is an emotional truth that supersedes chronology.
Marlow: You were not originally planning to attend the book expo?
Marlow: It's hard to imagine the film without this footage. It provides a necessary coda.
Galinsky: There wouldn't have been a film. But it was one of those things where, working on documentaries, sometimes you shoot so much and it doesn't seem focused. It's so hard to keep picking up the camera to stay with it. It was like, "Oh, they're going to go there and do nothing again." In fact, we didn't even know what was going to happen because we thought we were kind of done with the film when Sander holds up the book in D.C. [in the basement of a bookstore]. They've basically lost because it's a remaindered title. That would have still been a good film. We would have cut it differently and it would have been less about Hatfield and it would have been much more about Sander. But we called him a couple of weeks later and asked how everything was going. He said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you. We're republishing the book!" We had to head out again and it was a good thing that we did.
Marlow: How did you feel about Hatfield's revelations at the press conference regarding Clay Johnson and Karl Rove as his sources? At the time, it seemed pretty implausible but everything that has happened since seems to support the possibility of such a far-fetched idea.
Hawley: It's interesting. I'm always a little more skeptical than Michael and, at the time, that theory had been bandied about for a long time at the Soft Skull Press office. When I first heard it, I thought, "That's not implausible at all." As Hatfield's past unraveled a little bit more in front of me, as I spent a little bit more time with him and realized what a con man he was, I started to believe it less and less. Now, with the Kitty Kelly book, it's weird. I'm starting to question it all again. I don't know what the answer is and it almost feels like no one will ever know.
Galinsky: It is hard to know. Personally, at the time, I didn't fully trust it. I still don't know. The interesting thing is that everyone ignored it. It wasn't something that they were willing to touch. We tried to talk to a couple of those writers [at the press conference] afterwards but none of them would go on camera because they didn't want to be involved with it.
Marlow: You're somewhat fortunate that general audiences are aware of the book and the controversy but they aren't aware of how things end up. You mention in the film that Sander is no longer CEO of Soft Skull Press. He has a book coming out - The Big Wedding - about 9/11. Do you stay in touch with him?
Galinsky: Yes, definitely. In fact, I'm going to be the photographer at his wedding next week. He's got a new publishing company. He's publishing a book called American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone. He also works for this thing, INN World Report, which is a Dish Network news show.
Marlow: Pete Slover, in his two interview sessions in the film, appears genuinely penitent about his role in "outing" Hatfield and igniting his downward spiral. Sander mentions that he suspected Slover was tipped off by the Republicans. However, Slover never notes that he himself has a somewhat felonious past - according to Sander's diary [included in excerpted form with the disc if you purchase it], he was arrested early in his career for breaking and entering into a public records office.
Galinsky: Right when this whole thing started, we happened to be going to Texas for Thanksgiving. We called up Pete Slover [who writes for the Dallas Morning News] and asked, "Can we interview you?" He said, "Sure." Then, about twenty minutes later, he called back and said, "I'm sorry, I can't do it. My editor won't let me." I had a long conversation with the editor for about an hour and there were a bunch of letters back and forth. He finally said, "No, it's not in our interest to do it." It just drove us crazy. About a year later, when things had died down and we were still working on the film, I was in Texas for a film festival and I called up Pete Slover. He said, "Sure, let's just do this." He kind of did it against the wishes of his bosses. You know, that's just Sander saying that the Republicans set Slover up to it. Basically, Hatfield's a guy that nobody has heard of saying he's a Texas journalist and he's got all the dirt on Bush. Any journalist who'd been following Bush is going to want to know who this guy is and a simple Lexus search would bring up everything.
Marlow: Hatfield must have realized, by publishing this book, that information about his past would surface again.
Galinsky: Part of being a con man is believing your con. Honestly, I don't know what he was thinking. He had been publishing books with this other guy who was paying for the books - giving him a salary to help get him started - George Burt [whom Hatfield had met in prison]. Then he did Fortunate Son without George Burt, which wasn't actually very fair to him. Hatfield is a complicated guy.
Hawley: He had published two unauthorized biographies of those actors [Patrick Stewart and Ewan McGregor, in addition to a reference guide to the X-Files]. I think he was just starting to naÔvely think that, "I haven't been bothered yet, so I won't be bothered now." Knowing what he knew about the Bush family, I don't know why he thought that he would still go unscathed.
Galinsky: It comes back to the same thing we were talking about before. If you think that bad things are going to happen, you're never going to do anything. Basically, you?ve got to have a lot of hubris in some sense to do anything. Hatfield has a barrel-full.
Marlow: Thanks to the tax cut that benefits the wealthiest one percent of Americans, the Billionaires for Bush should be quite active for the next few weeks.
Galinsky: Yes, they're very active. It's funny that you bring up the Billionaires because we're involved in a film about the Republican National Convention protesters. The Billionaires are one of the main characters. I was following around Michelle Goldberg from Salon.com at all of the protests. It was really insane.
Marlow: According to your site, you have three documentaries in the works...
Galinsky: We actually have one that we just sent off today about the search for a serial rapist in Miami. That one is hopefully due to appear in January [at Sundance]. We'll see. And then we have a bunch more that we've started. One is about an 800-pounds man who is trying to loose weight by breakdancing. He actually lost 100 pounds in the first month-and-a-half.
Marlow: Better than Subway.
Galinsky: Standing up. Literally. That's what it took.