'Abusive, sick, unfair...' No, not Palin, but the new movie about her

A screen portrayal has hit a raw nerve with America's right. Is it too close to the truth?

After years of stonewalling what they regard as the liberal elite media, Sarah Palin's closest associates have decided to use America's mainstream press to mount a pre-emptive strike against a new film chronicling the former vice-presidential candidate's rise to political stardom.

Seven of the ex-Alaska governor's former staffers made headlines yesterday by holding a 50-minute conference call with journalists in which they angrily aired criticisms of the television movie Game Change, in which Ms Palin is portrayed by Julianne Moore.

The high-profile project, for the cable channel HBO, was described as a "sick," "abusive," and "fabricated" representation of the 2008 election campaign. It wrongly portrays Ms Palin as abrasive and emotionally combustible, they claimed, and distorts her grasp of foreign affairs.

Not one of the seven participants in the phone call has seen Game Change, which will not air until mid-March. But they have all read the book on which it was based, and watched, with some horror, the trailers on HBO's website.

"Frankly, it gives fiction a bad name," declared Ms Palin's former foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann. "It is based on intentionally misleading lies." Meg Stapleton, her former PR manager, added: "We all know Palin sells and the dramatisation of Palin sells even more. This is sick. The media has gone too far."

Doug McMarlin and Jason Recher, who were both aides to Ms Palin during her 2008 bid for the vice-presidency said respectively: "It's like me telling you what happened at your wedding by talking to your caterers," and "it's a false portrait cobbled together by a bunch of people who simply weren't there."

In certain segments from Game Change, Julianne Moore who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ms Palin, appears to believe that Saddam Hussein, and not Osama bin Laden, launched the 9/11 attacks, and that the Queen, and not the Prime Minister, runs the British government.