ABC Anchor Blogs: Why Is Hollywood So Liberal?

February 23rd, 2007 6:20 AM

It's interesting how some network TV reporter blogs show more interest in examining liberals than the network news product does. In his Media Reality Check yesterday, Rich Noyes reported that the networks have yet to touch the controversy over the anti-religious bloggers John Edwards hired for his presidential campaign website, and yet ABC Nightline anchor Terry Moran really got the ball rolling in the blogosphere on the story when he asked if a Republican would be ignored with smash-mouth bloggers like that.

Moran's blog now features a post on the liberalism of Hollywood. Moran says what Jake Tapper didn't quite say in his report on the political importance of a Democratic power center: "Hollywood money is a crucial factor for any Democrat who seriously wants to be president. You simply cannot get the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party--and you cannot win the White House as a Democrat--without the money-raising muscle of Hollywood." Do the top producers snip lines like this, lines of simple common sense?

Moran said this makes the Clinton-Geffen-Obama spat important: "The whole incident demonstrates that fact once again, and it also reminds us how liberal Hollywood is. A conservative Democrat or a Republican is simply not going to find anywhere near as much money out here as a liberal--a 'real' liberal. Why is that? Why is Hollywood so liberal?"

And why won't Moran explore this on television, on Nightline?

The anchor explained that this was not always so, that studio chiefs used to be Republican Party officials, that "Irving Thalberg led the effort to defeat progressive Democrat Upton Sinclair when he ran for California governor in 1934 on a platform of ending poverty in the state. Daryl Zanuck was a staunch Cold Warrior who, like many moguls, helped enforce the notorious blacklisting of actors, writers, directors and others who might have had some association with communism. And Walt Disney was a deeply anti-union, anti-communist social conservative."

Now Sinclair was a raging socialist, not some tame New Deal Democrat, and the presence of communist directors and screenwriters in Hollywood does tend to at least rebut in part Moran's notion of a much more conservative entertainment capital back in the day.

Moran has a theory that Hollywood is liberal because sex sells:

The cash Niagara of more explicit, more sexually liberated movies has had a political consequence, it seems to me. Imagine, for a moment: If social conservatives had their way and American culture was remade in the manner they advocate--Hollywood would take a beating. Movies would change--they'd be less sexually suggestive, less "transgressive" of middle-class morality, less likely to champion lifestyles at odds with "traditional values." (They also might be a lot more boring--but that's beside the point.) And the big moguls would make less money--a lot less. (Artists would certainly and rightly rebel against the constraints on their freedom to imagine and depict the world--but I'm not talking about artists. I'm talking about businessmen and businesswomen.) So: Sex sells. And that shapes Hollywood's politics.

I'd say an easier theory is that liberals flocked to Hollywood because they (A) craved the natural human desire for fame and fortune and/or (B) realized that entertainment is a force of mass persuasion. There's one major flaw in Moran's argument here: family-friendly "middle-class morality" movies have often been box-office smashes. Moran ought to know that. He works for Disney.