EXCLUSIVE: Band of Brothers Writer Makes Anti-Trump Ad as Tribute to Greatest Generation’s Sacrifices


The latest anti-Trump video ad from The Lincoln Project — with a tribute to the American veterans who fought during World War II and slam on President Donald Trump‘s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has put these oldest generations at risk — was created by someone with a deep knowledge and appreciation of WWII veterans: John Orloff, one of the writers of HBO’s critically acclaimed miniseries Band of Brothers.

The ad, called “Debt,” begins with video footage from the attack on Pearl Harbor, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s voice is heard speaking about the “day that will live in infamy.”

“In 1941, America’s leaders asked a generation to go to war,” the narrator begins. “They did nothing less than save the world. It didn’t come easy. It didn’t come quickly. And it didn’t come without great sacrifice.”

The ad then cuts to Trump speaking at a recent press briefing about the coronavirus pandemic, as a soft beeping noise begins.

“America will again and soon be open for business,” says Trump. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself, we’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.”

“Haven’t we asked enough of the Greatest Generation?” the narrator asks, as the video shows the source of the beeping noise: an old man lying on a hospital bed, as a ventilator and other machines keep him alive.

The ad’s message was emphasized in a Lincoln Project tweet. “The Greatest Generation sacrificed everything for our country. But [Trump] wants to sacrifice them for the economy when they’re in their greatest time of need.”

The ad launched Sunday online and with a targeted digital buy focusing on select states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and South Carolina — all of which voted for Trump in 2016, and also have significant military and veteran populations.

Sunday evening, Mediaite reached out to Orloff, the creative mind behind the ad, and asked how he got involved in the project and what messages he was trying to convey.

In addition to his work on Band of Brothers, which earned him a Christopher Award and an Emmy nomination, Orloff adapted the screenplay for A Mighty Heart, from Mariane Pearl‘s memoir about her husband, the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered by Al Qaeda terrorists.

Orloff told Mediaite that he had what he called a “slightly unique background” for a Hollywood screenwriter. During the 1990s, before he became a screenwriter, he worked for a political media consultant and “learned a little bit about about political advertising: the form, the messaging, etc.”

“Over the years, I’ve become very passionate about veteran affairs,” Orloff continued, “and especially the World War II vets, many of whom I’ve known, interviewed, and become friends with over the years.”

Orloff described his reaction as the anniversary of D-Day — the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy credited with laying the foundations for the eventual victory over Hitler’s Nazi regime — approached, and how the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was progressing.

“I watched the Trump administration — and its enablers — argue that they were quite willing to sacrifice the health and lives of our senior citizens, I was — and still am — shocked that this was an actual, real rationalization they were making.”

“And who are those senior citizens?” Orloff continued. “Well, a whole bunch of them saved the world. Literally. At great and terrible sacrifice.”

“And how does our society reward them in their final days? It offers these same men and women a lonely, possibly early, death, away from their families and loved ones, and often even away from medical staff. Why? Because of the economy? Because of masks? It seemed to me that we needed to be reminded exactly who these ‘old people’ are that some of us are so quick to sacrifice.”

“So I got pissed,” Orloff concluded, “and the fine folk at The Lincoln Project let me channel all of that into the ad we dropped today.”

Orloff shared the ad on his Twitter page, writing that the ad “came from the heart,” and asking his followers to share it.

It appears Orloff’s followers did just that. By the end of the evening on Sunday, the video had racked up approximately 3 million views on YouTube and Twitter. Orloff’s tweet alone had about 13,000 retweets.

Watch the ad, “Debt,” above, via The Lincoln Project.

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media. A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law. Sarah's writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.