It’s hard to imagine, but for many years, conservatives and Republicans were rather common in Hollywood. Exploring that history is worth doing not just because it is informative but also because it illustrates that there is no good reason that people on the Right could not have a bigger presence in that industry today.
Arizona State University professor Donald Critchlow has done an important service in this regard with his new book When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. I had the pleasure recently of speaking with him about his work, the transcript of which follows this introduction.
Since the left-wing nonsense coming out of Hollywood can be just as obnoxious as anything you’d find on MSNBC, the MRC’s “Best Notable Quotables of 2013” once again includes our annual Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity.
Past winners of this prestigious prize include: actress Jessica Lange in 2002 (“I despise him [George W. Bush]. I despise his administration and everything they stand for.”); The View’s Rosie O'Donnell in 2007 (“I just want to say something: 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?”); and actor/director Rob Reiner in 2010 (“My fear is that the Tea Party gets a charismatic leader, because all they’re selling is fear and anger and that’s all Hitler sold.”)
This year’s winners and corresponding videos after the jump.
On the Friday, December 13, PoliticsNation, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank joined host Al Sharpton in complaining that conservatives "demonize" people who receive welfare benefits as the two discussed efforts to restrain welfare spending.
This month, the Boston Globe and the New York Times have published items on the growth of homelessness in the state of Massachusetts and New York City, respectively. Based on the content of each, it's clear that the topic was ripe for coverage in 2012, but received little if any. I wonder why? (/sarcasm)
The Globe's regular-length news story by Megan Woolhouse and David Abel cited the state's "record numbers of homeless families" as "another example of an uneven recovery" from a recession which officially ended almost 4-1/2 years ago. The Times published the first of what will ultimately five parts on the plight of one homeless family, with special emphasis on Dasani, their 11 year-old daughter. The Globe cites "federal budget cuts" and "a legacy of the Great Recession" as negative factors. The Times's Andrea Elliott needlessly marred her otherwise compelling profile by hyping newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio while taking swipes at "the wealthy" and "Reagan-era cutbacks," as excerpts after the jump will demonstrate (bolds and italicized comments are mine):
On Friday's edition of The Diane Rehm Show that's broadcast on many NPR stations from Washington, the host mangled her presidential history, but her guests and producers all humored her, like you might humor a nice lady who's 77. No one suggested a gold watch and an open space for a younger NPR liberal behind the mic.
As Rehm and a crew of reporters aerobically compared Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela, Rehm claimed Reagan was president in 1979 when she first took the microphone at WAMU-FM in Washington and he didn't want the U.S. involved in any anti-apartheid activities (video below):
Amid the tributes looking back at the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela following his death on Thursday, Friday's NBC Today and ABC's Good Morning America both managed to take shots at Ronald Reagan for not being supportive of Mandela during Apartheid. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Today, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: "The U.S. wasn't always on Mandela's side. In the 1980s, President Reagan supported the Apartheid regime, a cold war ally, even as protests broke out on college campuses across America demanding that the U.S. punish the regime....Finally, Congress, including key Republicans, overrode Reagan's veto, imposing the economic sanctions that helped break the Apartheid regime."
On Tuesday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reacted to GOP complaints about President Obama's Iran deal by cracking that Republicans "would have reflexively disapproved" even if Obama made a "deal to promote motherhood, baseball and apple pie."
But later, Milbank still predicted that the Iranian government "probably are not for real," as he recommended making the effort at a six-month deal anyway. Host Al Sharpton surpisingly also seemed to think it more likely than not that Iran would cheat as he asserted that "it's likely they may not live up to it."
After Sharpton introduced the segment complaining about a "deranged" response from conservatives who have attacked the deal, he went to Milbank, who began:
You would think given all the heat MSNBC’s Martin Bashir is taking for his vile comments about Sarah Palin earlier this month, comedians might want to lay low for a while in attacking the former Alaska governor.
Not HBO’s Bill Maher who on Real Time Friday said, “When Reagan was elected, Sarah Palin was barely 16, probably pregnant, but still in third grade” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On the plus side, here you have an example of a liberal not blaming George W. Bush for, well, whatever. Instead, this specific left winger, radio talker Thom Hartmann, is going with the liberal fallback position - It's All Reagan's Fault.
To earlier generations of leftists, Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy also proved useful as all-purpose boogeymen who could be cited repeatedly in vain attempts to end an argument. (Audio after the jump)
Craig Shirley, author of several large tomes on Ronald Reagan's political history, is merciless on Real Clear Politics toward MSNBC star Chris Matthews and his new book on "Tip and the Gipper."
This isn't a book about Reagan or Tip O'Neill, he writes. "It is the history of Chris Matthews before he became the Chris Matthews we see on cable television today. It falls into the category of micro personal history, but is so elfin as to be inconsequential." You can't find Matthews even mentioned in the index of Tip O'Neill's memoir, he reports.
The old Norm McDonald joke was “Germans love David Hasselhoff.” The liberal talk radio equivalent is “Thom Hartmann really hates Ronald Reagan.”
On Thursday afternoon’s show, Hartmann blamed Reagan for this whole Tea Party trend of “anti-American crazies who hate our government,” with that unpatriotic hatred somehow including veterans of every war, and George Washington, who “signed the first legislation that provided housing, food, medical care, and clothing to poor people.” Footnote, please?
The best-selling author Tom Clancy died at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 66 after a brief illness. Our condolences go to Clancy’s family. Foxnews.com reports Clancy’s career was jump-started by President Reagan saying he couldn’t put down “The Hunt for Red October.” (Historian Tevi Troy confirms this.)
For liberals, Clancy’s name became synonymous with rah-rah patriotism and the military-industrial complex. Let's rewind to a Brent Baker item about a Clancy interview with Newsweek.com in 2003. Brian Braiker asked if patriotism in the U.S. creates hostility abroad. Clancy shot back that the most arrogant people in America work at the largest newspapers:
As NewsBusters previously reported, Tea Party Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Id.) on Sunday's Meet the Press made a fool of MSNBC's Chris Matthews over his lack of knowledge regarding how many times the government shut down when his former boss Tip O'Neill was Speaker of the House.
As it turns out, the Washington Post also mocked Matthews for his ignorance last Thursday in a piece deliciously titled "Sorry, Chris Matthews: Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan Were Terrible at Averting Shutdowns."
On Monday’s edition of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, fake conservative Stephen Colbert mocked the “fan-fiction foreign policy” of Reagan admirers. He ran clips of Bill O’Reilly telling James Carville that Reagan would have gone to war in Syria, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen saying Reagan "would stand up to this...he would say chemical use was unacceptable."
Then Colbert claimed Reagan “looked the other way when Saddam gassed his own Kurdish citizens.” Wrong. Get out the Pinocchios. It's true Reagan didn’t go to war in Iraq -- if you want to call that "looking the other way" -- but Reagan did denounce the gassing of the Kurds in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1988. Colbert doesn't care about accuracy. He just wants to mock his "fellow" conservatives:
Earlier this evening at NewsBusters, Tim Graham noted that the Washington Post gave space, in an item entitled "Reagan Historians to Decry 'Ahistorical Caricature' as Racist in 'The Butler' Movie," to refute the false portrayal of the Gipper in that film.
One more anecdote should be added in rebuttal to counter the "Reagan was a racist" lie. I'm referring to an event in 1982. Note that the related the unbylined AP report couldn't resist getting in a gratuitous dig (both reports at this post are reproduced in full for fair use and discussion purposes):
Kudos to the Outlook section editors at The Washington Post for allowing presidential historians Steven Hayward, Paul Kengor, Craig Shirley, and Kiron Skinner to address how the movie “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is inaccurate and unfair about Reagan, who they say proved his lack of bigotry in Dixon, Illinois, in Hollywood, and in the White House.
They recalled a 1983 reception for the National Council of Negro Women in July of that year, Reagan declared: “I’ve lived a long time, but I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t believe that prejudice and bigotry were the worst of sins.” That isn’t what the fake Reagan is like:
Well, if you can't say anything good about how your guy's foreign policy is going, you can at least try to trash one of his predecessors so your guy doesn't look so bad.
That would appear to be the idea behind David E. Sanger's attempt at the New York Times today to falsely inform readers that the two towering leaders of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, angrily disagreed over the UK's choice to retake the Falkland Islands after Argentina had seized them. Sanger linked back to a previous Times story which clearly pointed to the real disagreement, but never described anything resembling anger. Additionally, a cable from Secretary of State Alexander Haig during that era directly refutes Sanger's contention.
This past July’s dismal jobs report was no outlier. Job gains during the Obama recovery have been slow at best.
If monthly job gains going back to 1946 are ranked in order of best to worst, the difference between job growth during the first four years of economic recovery under President Ronald Reagan and Obama is astounding. Total job growth during the first four years of the Obama recovery has been 4,657,000 or just 97,020 jobs per month. That's not even enough to hit the breakeven level of 150,000 jobs per month when population growth is taken into account. (video after break)
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has been making some fairly conservative arguments on his program as of late. On Thursday’s Morning Joe, for instance, he took his liberal guests to task, blasting Politico’s Jim VandeHei and The New York Time’s Steve Rattner for characterizing the House GOP as a do-nothing, radical conference.
Scarborough insisted that Republicans have stood for the same principles “for 100 years,” while dismantling the relentless claim from liberals that the current House of Representatives is the most extreme in American history:
With Grover Norquist’s help, Bill Maher once again made a fool of himself Friday evening.
In the middle of an HBO Real Time discussion about ObamaCare, the host seemed shocked to hear that Bob Dole isn’t a real conservative leading Norquist to derisively comment to former Congressman Connie Mack (R-Fl.), “He doesn’t understand the difference between Reagan and Dole” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
On the Friday, June 21, PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton brought up former President Ronald Reagan giving a speech in 1980 near the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights activists were famously murdered in 1963.
Referring to then-candidate Reagan's first speech after the Republican convention which he delivered at the Neshoba County Fair a few miles from Philadelphia, Sharpton incorrectly claimed Philadelphia was where Reagan "announced he was running for President" as the MSNBC host related:
Not surprisingly, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan is not pleased with Republicans talking about agreeing to an immigration reform bill that ends up being another amnesty without closing the border.
On the Laura Ingraham Show Tuesday, Buchanan equated it to Neville Chamberlain giving Sudetenland to Adolf Hitler.
HBO’s Bill Maher went on another irrational, nonsensical rant against Ronald Reagan Friday.
After calling arguably one of the best presidents in American history “the original, official pitchman for bats—t,” the Real Time host said Reagan was “the man most responsible for our decline” (video follows with transcribed lowlights and commentary):
Earlier this week, a blogger argued that inspiring words from a famous Californian had much to do with the eventual dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Since the blogger was writing for Daily Kos, however, it's unsurprising that the Golden Stater he had in mind was not Ronald Reagan, but rather musician-composer Frank Zappa.
The Kossack who goes by "toncuz" devoted most of his piece to trashing Reagan's presidency, claiming that Reagan turned America over to "corporate fascists" and further griping that conservatives have "completely 'white-washed' [Reagan's] legacy" to such an extent that they've "completely bamboozled so-called progressive journalists and so-called historians...Progressives must stop coddling Reagan as the 'better' Republican just because so many of today’s Republicans truly sound like escaped mental patients. Reagan was no better." Then, towards the end of the post, "toncuz" declares:
NewsBusters reported Wednesday that MSNBC's Martin Bashir disgracefully accused Republicans of using the acronym "IRS" as the latest racist dog whistle in their "war against the black man in the White House."
It turns out that Bashir used a selectively edited quote of former Reagan aide Lee Atwater to make his pathetic case.
As MSNBC's Al Sharpton hosted a panel on Wednesday's PoliticsNation to discuss Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's retirement, MSNBC analyst Karen Finney claimed that Bachmann never had an idea "that wasn't about hate or wasn't about being against something," while MSNBC analyst and former Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Ed Rendell similarly charged that historians will put her "in a group of people during this era who were just haters, who breeded hate and discontent."
After Sharpton introduced the panel by asking how history would treat Bachmann, Rendell replied:
On the Tuesday, May 14, All In show, Chris Hayes linked former President Ronald Reagan to a former Guatemalan dictator convicted of genocide as the MSNBC host seemed to suggest that the story was as worthy of attention as Benghazi and ended up sarcastically challenging Fox News to give attention to it.
After playing a clip of Reagan from 1982 praising the then-ruler of Guatemala, Hayes continued: