Phelim McAleer knows liberal media bias describes more than just progressive spin. It also covers the stories reporters either ignore or aggressively downplay.
The text exchanges between former FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok fall squarely in the latter group. It’s why McAleer and his creative team produced “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers” earlier this year.
The stage production used the agents’ own texts to reveal their romance as well as an “insurance policy” for stopping Donald Trump.
The production took place last June at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Center after the original site backed out following threats of violence.
Now, anyone can see the show via YouTube, free of charge. The video generated more than 33,000 views in its first week alone with microscopic media coverage.
“The response of the audience on the night [in question] was amazing, and it has continued online. They really, really appreciate the truth told in an entertaining and accessible way,” McAleer says.
Strzok and Page weren’t minor FBI players. Strzok oversaw Hillary Clinton’s email scandal probe and found himself tied to the Russia-Trump probe months later. Page served as acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s top counsel.
Together, they epitomized what many conservatives feared most – a “Deep State” attempt to remove the unconventional leader.
Consider the following text exchange:
Page: “Trump’s not ever going to become president, right?”
Strzok: “No. No, he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
McAleer credits his stars, Kristy Swanson and Dean Cain, for elevating the already explosive texts.
“I thought the script was important and entertaining, but Dean and Kristy took it to a whole new level and found humor and pathos where I didn’t realize it was there,” says McAleer, who employed Verbatim Theater to create the play. His team used direct source material, not creative license, to bring the show to life.
In this case, “FBI Lovebirds” shared the infamous Strzok/Page texts as well as congressional testimony.
The press covered the Page/Strzok text exchanges, but with a fraction of the vigor applied to fake Trump scandals like SharpieGate.
They treated “FBI Lovebirds” with equal unease.
“A lot of the media ignored the play because the last thing they wanted to discuss or publicize is the origins of the ‘Russia Collusion’ story,” McAleer says.
The lessons from the Strzok/Page texts don’t apply just to the Russia collusion hoax, he says.
“This has direct relevance to the current Ukraine controversy where we are being asked to accept that the intelligence community is politically neutral when it is clearly not,” he says. “We need to treat ‘whistleblowers’ with skepticism.”
Comedy institutions also avoided the text exchanges despite their obvious appeal. The old “Saturday Night Live” could have feasted on the material for weeks.
“They would never dream of making a joke about this obvious subject, but even if they did think about it they would not do it for fear of being not popular with the ‘in’ crowd,” he says. “They are so busy giving themselves awards for bravery that they don’t see how cowardly their comedy really is.”
Swanson and Cain, by contrast, leaned into that comic potential, drawing guffaws from the D.C. crowd.
McAleer turned to online crowdfunding to make “FBI Lovebirds” a reality, much like he did for past projects (including the indie film “Gosnell”). He shares some tips for conservatives eager to follow a similar path.
“Try and make your art mainstream, and make sure it does not look or smell different,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to use genres to tell a story … but respect the genre. Don’t disappoint people who go for a romantic comedy or a horror story. Follow the rules of the genre and tell your story,” he says. “Do that, and you will get a much more engaged audience.”