Liberals claim to hate "Fake News," but that's not true when they're making movies "based on real events" or "based on a true story." Tucked away inside Friday's Life section of USA Today, on page 4D, Patrick Ryan did a little "Fact Check" and noted some places where the new movie on Ruth Bader Ginsburg On The Basis of Sex is playing fast and loose with facts.
The movie came out on Christmas, but in very limited release, only in 33 theatres (no doubt timed for Academy Awards consideration).
The headline gently said "Basis based in fact, takes liberties." Ryan began with how this movie literally comes out of the Ginsburg family. It's an authorized biography:
For her starry new Hollywood biopic, Ruth Bader Ginsburg kept it in the family.
On the Basis of Sex (in theaters now) is written by Daniel Stiepleman, a first-time screenwriter and nephew of the Supreme Court justice. The film is part love story, part legal drama, showing how a young Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) and her husband, Martin (Armie Hammer), won their first case together in court in the early 1970s...
Stiepleman consulted with his aunt as he wrote Basis, sticking to many of the facts while taking some liberties with the new movie.
Even when something in the movie is identified by Ryan as "true," Stiepleman wanted to make a glorious myth of Auntie Ruth, but she would say no -- like how the sex-discrimination case at the center of the movie was given to her by her husband, Marty:
Although that's how it played out in real life, Stiepleman was initially hesitant to write the scene as is, for fear of seemingly diminishing Ginsburg's accomplishments. “I was writing a movie about a leading feminist and was scared it could feel like the man is driving the story forward,” Stiepleman says. “So in the first draft, I had her finding the case on her own. But Ruth read (the script) and said, ‘Your uncle handed me that case and he deserves credit for it.’ "
Falsehoods were also encouraged by Justice Ginsburg, like inventing a plot point that feminist lawyer Dorothy Kenyon helped Ginsburg gain the support of the ACLU:
Dorothy's involvement was fictionalized: “Ruth said, ‘I don’t want people to think I invented this area of the law, as if it never occurred to anyone that women should be considered equal under the equal protection principle,’ " Stiepleman says.
Ginsburg thought it was important that moviegoers should know she stood on the shoulders of women that came before her, such as Dorothy Kenyon and Pauli Murray. "When she wrote her brief, she included those two women as co-authors, even though they didn’t write it, because she felt so indebted to them," the screenwriter says. "So I added the scene where Ruth visits Dorothy Kenyon to serve that purpose.”
Ryan also notes the movie's "climactic courtroom scene" in the federal appeals court is fictionalized. Ginsburg "never froze up in front of them," and she never gave a triumphant rebuttal, because the judges peppered her husband with questions instead.
The film also falsely places Ruth's daughter Jane at her side on the movie's court case. Although the real-life Jane went to law school and became a professor at Columbia, "she wasn't an active participant in Ginsburg's early legal career."
As usual, this liberal movie is "inspired by a true story," but there's a lot of misleading hagiography going on. The stuido is Focus Features, owned by....NBC Universal.