Who is going to want to watch “The Comey Rule” on Showtime?
Democrats hate former FBI director James Comey because he torpedoed Hillary Clinton. Republicans hate him because he refused to bow down to Donald Trump, and because of the Russia investigation.
If you don’t support Trump, Part 1 is painful to watch as a self-righteous, often oblivious Comey violates FBI standards, undermines Clinton, shields Trump and helps put an unqualified, possibly criminal candidate in the White House.
If you do support Trump, you’re going to hate Part 2, because it lays out a very clear case for why the president should have been removed from office for the crimes of which he was accused — as well as multiple others.
The weird thing is that Part 1 on Sunday and Part 2 on Monday (7 p.m., DirecTV and Dish; 10 p.m., Comcast) are more like two completely different movies than two halves of a whole. Comey is a showboat and a fool in Part 1, insisting he has to preserve the integrity of the FBI as he’s destroying it. And in Part 2, he’s a paragon of virtue.
Of course, the question that hovers over all of this is — whose truth is it? The two-parter is based on Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.” But that’s not a problem, insisted writer/director Billy Ray, because the ex-FBI director didn’t write and direct the two-part drama.
“I did,” Ray said. “I used his book as a jumping‑off point and then got on a plane and went to D.C. and interviewed dozens of people on my own and did lots of my own independent research. … So by the time I sat down to write the script, I had input from lots of voices … that were critical of Jim Comey.”
That’s a great answer. But … where did he get his additional info? From people he refused to name — “quite a few” in the Department of Justice and the FBI, and “a few” Republicans.
And, Ray said, Comey was a “resource” who “offered a lot of insights that got baked into the script and made the story better.” Ray let Comey read drafts “to see if we had gotten anything horribly wrong.”
Like, maybe, info from those Comey critics Ray interviewed.
There’s corroboration for most of Comey’s version of the truth. But not all. Ray makes much of the “loyalty dinner” scene in Part 2, when Comey (Jeff Daniels) dined alone with Trump (Brendan Gleeson), and — according to the ex-FBI director — the president demanded his loyalty in the style of a mob boss.
“There were only two people sitting at that table and I certainly didn’t get any help on that one from Donald Trump,” said Ray — who claimed he confirmed Comey’s account because in public, Trump’s “behavior is consistent with what Director Comey is saying.”
Insert eyeroll here.
All of this could have been done better as a documentary. The only reason to do it as a drama is to try to make the story more human and more relatable — and “The Comey Rule” does neither, despite Ray’s assertion that he is a “fan” of Comey.
“I believe in his integrity … but I’m not trying to marble-ize him. It’s not my goal to wind up with people erecting statues of Jim Comey or tearing them down.”
It’s difficult to imagine anyone who sees Part 1 erecting a statue to Comey. And you’d think that anyone who watches Part 2 would vote for someone other than Trump in November.
That’s clearly the goal behind “The Comey Rule.” But, again, who is going to watch this?
“I have not seen any signs in the last four years that the American public has lost its appetite for information about Donald Trump or our democracy more broadly,” Ray insisted. “I think this country is 100% engaged and 100% curious.”
Insert eyeroll here.