By Chuck Browder
If anyone cares to notice, outside of the beltway there is a media blackout on the presidential primary. Due to the ongoing writers’ strike, programs like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live and the three late-night staples – Leno, Letterman and Conan O’Brian - are all in reruns. Real Time With Bill Maher, after canceling the season finale due to the strike, is on a planned break. Whether production of any of these shows resumes soon, depends on the strike’s outcome. The dead air left behind has created a vacuum which even cable news cannot hope to fill. It seems their programming is tuned in only to the political junkie demographic, so the majority of the electorate outside of New Hampshire and Iowa isn’t paying attention to a race now coming into its final stretch. And no one is drawing their attention to it, while time just ticks by and the primaries get closer. With all of this said, who benefits? Hillary Clinton is the assumed front-runner right now, and so Hillary is the last candidate who should benefit from losing media coverage. But she does. Big time.
Let’s reflect back to several months ago, when DreamWorks Pictures executive David Geffen held a multi-million dollar fundraiser for Senator Barack Obama. On the surface it may have seemed innocuous, except for the fact Geffen historically had done fundraising only for ex-President Bill Clinton. Geffen reportedly told NY Times author Maureen Dowd,
“Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? -- can bring the country together.”
In regards to the Republicans and Bill Clinton as a liability, Geffen commented,
“I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person, I think they believe she's the easiest to defeat."
This was the first of several rejections Hillary has received from Hollywood over the past several months.
More recently, Obama received a key endorsement from Oprah Winfrey, who has now announced she will actively campaign with him. So with Oprah throwing the Obama card, this could potentially create a gender gap for Hillary with women, compounding the gap that already exists for her with men. To combat the Oprah endorsement, Hillary pulled out the big guns and garnered the endorsement of long-time Clinton compatriot, and on-again-off-again retiree, Barbra Streisand. Admittedly, Babs has a limited demographic appeal. She’s just preaching to Hillary’s choir.
So Hollywood isn’t for Hillary. Right wing pundits would tell you this is because Hollywood is so radically left and anti-war and out of touch. The truth is, who could blame Hollywood for not supporting her? For starters, she has not had much to say on the subject of the writers’ strike. This is in stark contrast to her opponent, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who Hillary all but accused of being a Republican shill in the last debate. And to Edwards’s credit, he was on the picket lines recently with the striking writers, addressing their interests in person, bullhorn and all.
But the animosity towards Hillary from Hollywood travels deeper than the current strike. She has made a career of turning marginal and insignificant issues into red meat for her soccer mom demographic, who she is counting on to nominate her. First case in point, Hillary, along with Senator Joe Lieberman, introduced the Media Marketing Accountability Act of 2001, which mandated the Federal Trade Commission to go after record companies for selling rock and rap records to kids under 17 years old. They insisted they just wanted to put "ratings" on CD covers, but what was really at work behind the scenes was a plan to make it a criminal act to sell Eminem and "the vile, hateful and nihilistic" Marilyn Manson to kids. As a result Warner Brothers dropped Eminem as an artist from their label, and Hillary was handed a hollow victory.
Second, the federal investigation Hillary sought against the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which she referred to as “a silent epidemic”. She asked for the FTC to probe how users of the game can access "graphic pornographic and violent content" for the [mature rated] game from the Internet, what was known as the ‘Hot Coffee’ mod. As for proof of the red meat for soccer moms, you only have to read Hillary’s open letter to FTC chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras where she said it’s time the federal government steps in: "There is no doubting the fact that the widespread availability of sexually explicit and graphically violent video games makes the challenge of parenting much harder." As a result of this political tripe, Rockstar Games, the studio that released GTA: San Andreas, pulled the remaining product from the shelves and re-released the game several months later without the controversial content.
So why is it, you may ask, that Hollywood is no friend to Hillary Clinton? For a “liberal,” she sure likes that censorship stuff. But there are more ways Hillary can alienate Hollywood. Look at her treatment IN media compared to the above treatment OF media. During the recent debate on CNN (which, of course, we all know stands for Clinton News Network), moderators Wolf Blitzer and Campbell Brown lobbed softball question after softball question at Hillary, allowing her to answer in vague generalities with little or no follow up on specifics. But this was far from the worst in the CNN debate. The audience in Nevada clearly was stacked with Clinton supporters. Senators Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich were interrupted several times by boos and shouts. As soon as Senator Edwards began to raise legitimate questions about Hillary’s baggage as a candidate, he was also shouted down with boos. This happened to Edwards several more times throughout the debate. He finally backed down after Hillary responded to his criticisms, accusing Edwards of “mud-slinging” and using talking points right out of the Republicans’ playbook. (Maybe Edwards should have accused her of taking a play out of Tipper Gore’s PMRC [Parents Music Recording Center] playbook, or asked her about other valid serious issues regarding her record and some pre-White House business dealings no one dares to press. But throwing Webb Hubble in her face would have been dirty, and Edwards wasn’t playing that game.)
Does this sound familiar? Harkens back to the days of her accusations of a “vast right wing conspiracy” against her and her husband during his administration. This woman is more paranoid than Richard Nixon and twice as calculating. To make this whole futile exercise in discourse extra special, former President Clinton advisor David Gergen and current Hillary Clinton advisor James Carville were on CNN after the debate to provide post-debate analysis - calling it in her favor, of course - making this debate one of the all-time lows in American political discourse.
And what recourse is there when Jon Stewart couldn’t say a word? How do we put it in perspective without Jay Leno’s line dancers lambasting Wolf Blitzer and Amy Poehler’s Holiday Hillary impressions to bring her back down to size? Seriously. Geffen is right, the Republicans want to run against Hillary. CNN is doing its best to help her and the other networks have all but declared her the winner. Without late-night comedy, there is no voice of reason left.
So what should Hollywood take from all of this? Quite simply, get back to work. I don’t believe for a minute that Hollywood will treat Hillary any better than Dubya. Do you honestly believe that Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, or the writers at Saturday Night Live will give Hillary a free pass? I don’t. Did her husband get a pass when it came to busting the president’s chops? Hardly. So unless you want her as your nominee, you need to get back to work and fill the void in the media’s coverage of this primary you left when this strike occurred. Unless you want all of your content regulated through the FTC, or to go through a Congressional sub-committee for a new content and ratings system, go work it out and get back to work. If you do nothing, cable news will elect her, and you will have no one to blame but yourselves.