Gasp! Thom Hartmann Asks Whether Hollywood Glorifies Violence

Rare is the liberal who criticizes Hollywood where liberalism has been the party line for decades. Rarer still are Democrats who do, especially at Hollywood fundraisers.

Left-wing radio host Thom Hartmann, among the top-rated talkers in the country, recently ventured where few on the left dare tread while talking with attorney and "Ring of Fire" radio show co-host Mike Papantonio about upheaval in Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black man. (Audio after the jump)

After Papantonio described an upcoming radio show, Hartmann asked whether violent tactics by cops on television shows are influencing police  (audio) --

PAPANTONIO: So we've got a pretty diverse kind of topic, I think one of the topics that needs more discussion and I know you talk about it, I talk about it all the time, is something is different now in America about the way that police do their job and it's not just our imagination. The empirical data's there, the audios are there, the videos are there, story after story, every single week where somebody is tased to death, somebody's shot that's completely innocent, completely unarmed. These stories, I don't remember these stories ever, one right after another like we're seeing now. So there's a fundamental problem with law enforcement in this country and it's systemic. I don't think it's localized, I think it's systemic.

HARTMANN: You know, one of the things I find fascinating and I'm not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg here. Back, you know, a year and a half, two years ago when I had that surgery and was out for a couple weeks and Louise (Hartmann's wife) had her surgery at the same time, so we just laid in bed at watched Netflix and I watched like, you know, a year and a half, two years' worth of "CSI: Miami"s and a whole bunch of, and we went back and watched the old cop shows from when we were young, we watched all the old "Columbo"s and "McMillan & Wife" and all these. And back in the '70s and '80s, the cop shows, they'd knock on the door and the guy would say, do you have a warrant and the cops would say no and he'd say, go away, and they'd walk off muttering. (Papantonio laughs).

Flash forward to today and you look at the cop shows and literally on "CSI: Miami," you know, lieutenant what's his name, the good guy, he's torturing people! Illegally. I mean, literally torturing people. They're doing police brutality and they're doing it with a wink and a nod to each other, to these, you know, clearly bad, bad guys, I mean. But I wonder to what extent the police forces of America are being trained by cop shows and that we should be having a serious conversation with Hollywood about the way that they portray police.

I'm always amused whenever a liberal says we should have a "serious" conversation. Translation: let's keep talking until you come around to my opinion.

I recall a similar conversation during the 1992 campaign when Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the title character of the TV sitcom "Murphy Brown" for having a baby out of wedlock and trumpeting it as just another "lifestyle choice." The reaction from the left was immediate, vociferous and can be summarized in a single sentence -- doesn't Quayle understand that she's a TV character?! That he did -- just as Hartmann surely understands the distinction between cop shows and actual police.

The wisdom of Quayle's observation -- that raising children without a father is inherently risky and weakens the social fabric -- was bolstered from an unlikely source in 1993: a widely read cover story in the Atlantic with the provocative title, "Dan Quayle Was Right."  A decade after the uproar, even Candice Bergen, the actress who played Brown, said she agreed with Quayle. (This helps explains why Bergen hasn't been heard from since).

As for the conversation sought by Hartmann, could we broaden it to ask whether the misogyny, glorification of crime and hatred of police inherent in rap music possibly contributed to the recent mayhem in Ferguson? (Quayle's remarks about Murphy Brown came weeks after widespread rioting in Los Angeles following a verdict in the Rodney King trial). After all, if police criminality is exacerbated by cop shows, as Hartmann suggests, doesn't it stand to reason that aimless and unemployed youth are influenced by angry rap? We should include fatherless families in this mix while we're at it.

Agreed, let's have that conversation. But only if the liberals involved can go at least two minutes at any given time without alleging racism.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts