If you thought we were done with James Comey, you had another thing coming.
Showtime released its trailer for The Comey Rule on Monday morning. It’s a miniseries based on Comey’s memoir of the same name, detailing the former FBI director’s decision to publish the infamous Comey Letter two days before the 2016 election, as well as his early dealings with Donald Trump (Brendan Gleeson). Jeff Daniels portrays Comey, a man who—based on his own portrayal—seems honorable and dutiful in his dedication to the United States. Even in a two minute trailer, you can tell it’s complete bullshit.
Brendan Gleeson as Donald Trump.@Jeff_Daniels as James Comey.
— SHOWTIME (@Showtime) August 24, 2020
Comey doesn’t come off as entirely sympathetic, but the trailer is far from harsh. Comey has repeatedly referenced his “higher loyalty,” which former Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri characterized as a “corrupting belief” that “lifted [Comey] beyond partisan politics” and led him to “take actions that were well beyond his role as FBI director.” That idea comes through clearly in the trailer—Comey seems like a tragic figure, albeit a dumb one who created his own tragedy. At best he’s a misguided patriot thrown off by his dedication to nonpartisanship; at worst he’s a bungling egotist who picked the absolute worst time to butt into a hotly contested presidential election. The only real difference is the wording.
Showtime’s portrayal of Comey may well be more critical than the FBI director was of himself. On the cusp of another presidential election, though, it doesn’t really matter how Comey is portrayed. He messed up, quickly realized the gravity of his error, backtracked, and tried to profit off it. He doesn’t deserve any kind of sympathy, even if that sympathy involves portraying him as a deluded public servant.
Daniels is an incredible actor, and he’ll surely bring more to the role than it’s actually worth. Seeing Gleeson made up as a bizarre-looking and sounding Trump/Alec Baldwin mashup is reason enough to tune in, and Showtime knows it. Still, the fact that the network actually paid Comey for this proves it shouldn’t exist. He went from accidentally greasing the wheels to elect one of the worst presidents ever to selling the TV rights to the book he wrote about it. Maybe book deals and high profile miniseries are just another part of Comey’s higher loyalty.