ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A CONSERVATIVE?|
by Greg Strangis
In the recently published "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV" author Ben Shapiro exposes how a left-leaning television industry actively promotes its liberal agenda, enthusiastically discriminating
against conservative ideas and the people who propound them. Shapiro doesn't merely make a strong case for this assertion of liberal bias; he gives many of Hollywood's best and brightest the opportunity to make the case for him in vivid detail and with a
passion usually reserved for sporting events.
Shapiro expanded on this theme in an article he wrote for BigHollywood.Breitbart.com:
I began receiving emails from underground conservatives in Hollywood thanking me for revealing what everyone in town knows but few could confirm: that liberal Hollywood kills careers of those with whom it disagrees. I even got a few
calls from liberals congratulating me on my attempts to open up the industry to different political viewpoints.
Political discrimination has a long and sordid history with Hollywood. The subject is covered extensively in scores of books and research papers. Wikipedia provides a useful précis:
But traditional Hollywood remained silent. They were unruffled by the revelation that many in their industry hire and fire out of ideological bigotry. They didn't even see it as controversial.
"The first systematic Hollywood blacklist was instituted on November 25, 1947, the day after ten writers and directors were cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
A group of studio executives, acting under the aegis of the Motion Picture Association of America, announced the firing of the artists -- the so-called Hollywood Ten -- in what has become known as the Waldorf Statement.
On June 22, 1950, a pamphlet called Red Channels appeared, focusing on the field of broadcasting. It named 151 entertainment industry professionals in the context of "Red Fascists and their sympathizers"; soon most of
those named, along with a host of other artists, were barred from employment in much of the entertainment field."
A parade of Hollywood luminaries, called to testify before Congress, was asked the burning question: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" Names were named. 1st and 5th
Amendment rights were invoked. In the end, whispered rumors and sinister implications were responsible for scores of ruined careers and decimated lives. CBS instituted a loyalty oath, mandatory for all its employees.
With a cynicism that would haunt Hollywood writers for decades, the Screen Writers Guild -- predecessor to today's WGA -- allowed studios to purge the names of "writers not cleared by Congress" from screen credits. (As late as 2000, the
Writers Guild was still pursuing the correction of screen credits from movies of the 1950s and early 1960s to properly reflect the work of blacklisted writers.)
The Hollywood Ten were indicted for contempt of Congress, and imprisoned in 1950. Writers were forced to work off the books, using pseudonyms or fronts.
Perhaps the most famous, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, finally got his name back in 1960 when a courageous Otto Preminger openly hired him to adapt Leon Uris's Exodus.
Six months later, Kirk Douglas insisted that Trumbo receive screenplay credit for his pseudonymous work on Spartacus.
We cannot re-litigate this ignoble Hollywood history, nor should we be forced to re-live it. While the issues may have changed, the chilling effects of political discrimination on content and careers have not. The revelations in Shapiro's well-researched book demand a strong response, and the Caucus has risen to the occasion.
The Caucus has always been an apolitical organization, famously championing creative rights and diversity in television. In the 20th Anniversary Founders issue of the Caucus Quarterly, Chuck Fries and David Levy wrote: "The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors is an institution unlike any other in the entertainment field. The Caucus is an organization of creative people whose main purpose is to elevate the quality and diversity of all television." This was more than an empty claim as evidenced by the Caucus's Bill of Rights which states in part: "We, the members of the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors, believe that the
American public is deserving of and entitled to excellence in television programming. We believe this can result only from the efforts of a diverse pool of talented men and women working in an open, free and supportive environment... Censorship of content, whether it is applied by Government, advertisers, pressure groups, or networks/cable services themselves, is contrary to the American tradition of free speech and the creation of a rich television environment."
Long a proponent of 1st Amendment rights and opponent of discrimination, the Caucus' position on political discrimination was not specifically enumerated in any of its governing documents. At its July 6th meeting, the Caucus Steering
Committee sought to correct that oversight. With unanimous consent, the Steering Committee voted to amend a passage in its Aims & Objectives so that it now reads:
THE CAUCUS strongly opposes any industry practices which, directly or indirectly, discriminate against individuals on the basis of, including but not limited to gender, race, sexual orientation,
political ideology, religion, physical disability or age.
In a follow-up motion, also affirmed by unanimous consent, the Steering Committee approved that:
...the Caucus issue a strong, unambiguous public statement reaffirming our opposition to discrimination in all forms, including, but not limited to, political discrimination and ideological bigotry, in the television industry.
The Caucus has taken the lead in condemning a cynical and all too common practice. Where are SAG, the DGA and especially the WGA in doing the same?
...that the Caucus simultaneously call upon all networks, cable outlets, studios and industry leaders at large to join us in encouraging the presentation of diverse points of view, including political points of view,
both in hiring practices and in entertainment programming.
What would Otto Preminger and Kirk Douglas do?