Kiefer Sutherland Discusses the Politics of ‘24’ and His Own Socialist Leanings

While media outlets carped and whined about a perceived conservative slant to the hit television series “24” as reported by NewsBusters here, here, here, here, here, and here, none seemed interested in asking the opinion of the star of the show who also happens to be the executive producer.

In fact, all of the hyperventilating left could have just watched the Charlie Rose Show on PBS on January 12 to find out the truth, assuming of course that this is important. If they had, they would know that Kiefer Sutherland believes he "[leans] towards socialist politics."

How's that for a kick in the head? Confused? Well, you won't be when you read Sutherland's response to Rose's question, “What are your politics?” (this is where all of the "neo-con" conspiracy theorists must pay particular attention if they dare): 

To a large degree they`re private, but I believe - I believe inherently that - that we have a responsibility to take care of each other, so when you can talk about socialized healthcare, absolutely, that`s a no-brainer. Free universities, absolutely, that`s a no-brainer for me. So in the definition, I guess those are leaning towards socialist politics. To me it`s common sense. And I do believe the wealthy have a responsibility to the less fortunate. Some people call that communism. I disagree. Again, it`s common sense. But I would have to say that my politics would be leaning towards the left.

Leaning to the left? I’d say if you advocate socialized health care and free universities. This set up an interesting exchange between the two concerning the use of torture:

CHARLIE ROSE: And do you get a lot of grief from your friends because we`ve had lots of discussions about torture in the last -- since we have been in Iraq ...

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: Yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: ... whether it`s Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or -- or other places where it is the Patriot Act ...

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: No, what happened in Abu Ghraib was just absolutely criminal. And not only was it criminal but it was as a nation it`s going to go in and trying to tell people how to live, which is exactly what we`re doing, and we`re going to tell you that democracy and freedom and this is the way to go, and then go and behave like that. Inexcusable.

CHARLIE ROSE: But you get some grief for what the show does?

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: Absolutely. And it is widely known that torture - - you can torture someone and they`ll basically tell you exactly what you want to hear, whether it`s true or not, if you put someone in enough pain. Torture is not a way of procuring information. The way of procuring information is actually -- is in fact quite the opposite, and, unfortunately, that takes a lot of time. Within the context of our show, which is a fantastical show to begin with, the torture is a dramatic device to show you how desperate a situation is.

CHARLIE ROSE: Right, right.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: And how urgent and - and desperate these characters are to solve this one specific thing, and time is running out. And so it is a dramatic device. It is not to be confused with what we think is right or wrong. And it`s a television show.

Some conservative, huh? Later in the interview came another fascinating sequence that those foaming about this program being a tool to promote Bush administration views should find most enlightening:

CHARLIE ROSE: I think I read somewhere that Cheney was a fan.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: I`ve heard that as well. I`ve heard that as well.

CHARLIE ROSE: And other fans within the national security apparatus ...

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: Yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: ... of the Bush administration.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: I think what`s - what`s funny is that, you know, you`ve got John McCain ...

CHARLIE ROSE: But John McCain was on the show last year.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: Yes, and Dick Cheney and various people that are huge fans of the show. And then you`ve got the Clintons and you`ve got Barbra Streisand, and I think one of the great testaments of the show is that the show is incredibly balanced as well. I don`t think you could have it embraced by members of the right and members of the left at the same time. And if you ever took a look at our writing staff and their politics ...

CHARLIE ROSE: It`s all over the place?

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: It`s all over the place, yeah, absolutely. There is a representative from the right, and there is a representative from the left.

CHARLIE ROSE: It`s used by people from Barbra Streisand to Rush Limbaugh to make a point, "24" to make a point.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: Yeah, yeah. Who am I to tell anybody how to interpret what we`re doing? We make it and we put it out there for you. Again, the thing that I can look back to with pride is that it`s that balanced, that the polarity of the audience is that diverse. Me, I kind of see things from a left perspective, so I`m always amazed when I see it galvanized by someone on the right.

Now, to put this even further in perspective, this interview was aired on January 12. The premier of the first season was January 14. Time magazine’s review wherein the writer asked “[I]s “24” a conservative show” was published January 14. Keith Olbermann whined about this program on January 16. And, though Newsweek’s article that suggested “24” was a “neocon sex fantasy” was published on January 12, maybe the author could have spoken to the admittedly socialist star/executive producer to get his take.

Alas, that would be too much like the lost art of investigative reporting, wouldn’t it?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.