Movie Review: Wag the Dog (1997)

Wag the Dog ____ 8/10
Only the role of the CIA rings doubtful

wag_the_dogBy that I mean, in real life, were the president to try to spin favorable poll numbers by creating a phony war in the media, the CIA would be in the loop.  Indeed, the CIA would be the loop.

[Note: this is a timely reposting of my review from August 2007. Nearly 10 years have passed since the original review and nearly 20 years since the movie’s premier. For anyone who doubts that the media today conveys a manufactured reality 24/7/365, please watch this film… and be prepared to cringe in reluctant acknowledgment.]

That’s the fascinating premise of this decade-old, Clinton-era satire of what the rich and powerful friends of the president can do these days if the president gets in trouble.  In the movie the Clinton-like POTUS (President of the United States) is accused of enticing an underage “Firefly Girl” (a Girl Scout analog) into a room in the White House and taking unspecified liberties there.

The president is up for reelection within two weeks and the media is already beginning to home in on the indiscretion.  His opponent has ads playing Maurice Chevalier’s “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”  His handlers know he’s in deep trouble and they need to generate a smokescreen to deflect all the attention from the voters.

Presidential aide Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) locates seasoned political spin-doctor Conrad Brean, who accompanies her to a White House basement skunk works and begins to work out a plan:  Let the President stay in China for a few more days, have the White House press spokesman start denying the existence of a bomber which does not exist, then create a threat from a small country no one knows much about: Albania. Continue reading