How Real Are Homeland and House of Cards? We Ask The Spy Chief


If you’re like me, and you’ve already binged through every season of House of Cards, then you may have wondered at some point: How true to reality are those dramatic briefings with President Frank Underwood? “They’re fairly realistic,” says John McLaughlin, who, as the former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, has briefed no fewer than four presidents — from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush. “A real briefing takes place in the basement of the White House, but you’re seeing only a tensely dramatic snippet of the meeting, because if you saw the whole thing it would be like watching paint dry.”

McLaughlin, a fellow TV junkie when it comes to political thrillers, gets glued to the screen whenever his favorites come on. Yes, there’s House of Cards, but also The Americans, Homeland and Veep. Only, unlike many of us, he has far deeper insight into just how real those latest plot twists and love stories really are…

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– Neil Parmar
Published in OZY