Ever since the new FX series,"Mrs. America," debuted on Hulu, conservatives have braced themselves for Hollywood's revisionist attempt to rewrite the history of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly's successful fight against the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s.
Perhaps the most egregious fabrication came in episode 5 of the series, titled, "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc," which aired this week. The episode portrayed the real-life televised debate between Fred and Phyllis Schlafly and women's liberation movement proponents Marc and Brenda Feigen-Fasteau in an April 30, 1973, broadcast of "The Tomorrow Show," hosted by Tom Snyder.
What are the details?
During the episode, Schlafly, played by Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett, is presented as an incompetent shill who doesn't know her stuff and needs to lie in order to prove her point.
Her feminist opponents, on the other hand, are presented as eminently competent debaters who wittingly call out Schalfly on her lies.
Here's the upshot: It is clear from the episode that the producers and writers watched the debate because they used real moments from the debate to inspire scenes in the episode — only they completely flipped the script.
In fact, FX and Hulu even go as far as to portray Schlafly making up lies on the spot, but archived footage of the actual debate shows that it was Fasteau who got caught inventing things to support her position.
Fortunately, the Eagle Forum, a conservative interest group founded by Schlafly in 1972 and now led by Ed Martin, has been fact-checking the series and has access to that footage:
Fact Check: Mrs. America Fabricates Schlafly vs Fasteau ERA Debateyoutu.be
In one scene, the Hulu series portrays a segment of the debate where Snyder asks Schlafly about the dangers of the ERA. In the show, Schlafly seems ill-prepared to answer the question and takes some prodding before reciting some of her positions. But in the actual debate, Schlafly rattles off her criticisms of the ERA without pause and with confidence.
In a different scene from the show, Schlafly mentions a court case where a father was granted custody of three children rather than the mother, who was then ordered to pay child support. But when pressed, she couldn't recall the name of the case and it appeared that she may have invented it to prove her point. In reality, something very similar did happen, only it was Fasteau who appeared to have made the error.
Archive footage shows Fasteau claiming that lending institutions would not approve women for loans unless she could prove she had been sterilized (deprived of the ability to have children). After she made the claim, Fred Schlafly — and even the host, Tom Snyder — pounced on Fasteau demanding that she name the bank and shaming her for making what they perceived to be an inaccurate claim.
'Blatant effort to mislead viewers'
Martin laid into the show producers and writers in a statement after the episode.
"It was clear from the outset that 'Mrs. America' producers and writers are clearly pro-ERA and anti-Phyllis, but their latest episode sank to new lows," Martin said.
"It's crystal clear from the show's dialogue that the writers have watched not only the original Schlafly-Fasteau debate but also many other interviews with Fred and Phyllis!" he continued. "What they chose to depict on screen was a pure fabrication of flip-flopped dynamics, out-of-context lines (from separate interviews entirely), and completely made-up dialogue.
"It's obviously not just shoddy research — it is clearly a blatant effort to mislead viewers," he added.