Are Conservatives Really Blacklisted?

Are Conservatives Really Blacklisted?

Primetime PropagandaIn the past few weeks, the book Primetime Propaganda by Ben Shapiro has caused quite a stir, not only in the Hollywood Community, but in the entire nation.  It has been the subject of coverage on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood, the Sean Hannity Show and many other sites in the blogosphere.  The thesis of the book is that there is an agenda amongst producers, writers and executives in the Television Industry to promote liberal ideology to the exclusion of Conservative viewpoints.  The book even goes so far as to say that there is actual blacklisting in Hollywood at the expense of Conservatives.  This column was one of the first to publish an article on this issue last week.  Since then, we have done a follow up article entitled “Blacklisting in Hollywood,” written by one of our owners Tim Ross.  In that article Tim points out some of his personal experiences and some commentary on Shapiro’s book.

As a result of the publication of the book and specifically comments made by prominent Television Producer, Vin Di Bona while Shapiro was researching the book, Lionel Chetwynd, a Hollywood Conservative and Academy Award Nominated Writer (“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”), resigned from his position on the Steering Committee of The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors.  I personally know Lionel and he would have not taken this step lightly.  His motivations are set forth in his open letter of resignation which is published on this web site and on many others all over the web.

Vin Di Bona has now started the typical Hollywood backpedaling.  In a Hollywood Reporter article, he claims that his interview with Shapiro was obtained under false pretenses:  Honestly, I don’t know why he is backpedaling.  He has got nothing to worry about at all as he will continue working in Hollywood.  After all, isn’t the alleged blacklist perpetrated by Liberals against Conservatives?  If that is true, not only doesn’t he have anything to fear, but he also should be optimistic.  He will probably work more because of his political slant.

Vin Di Bona
Television Producer, Vin Di Bona

To say that this is one of the major stories in Hollywood right now would probably be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is getting some serious attention.  Peter Bart, in his Daily Variety column this week never openly mentions Shapiro’s book, but he does make a point of stating that Hollywood makes movies from both a left and right perspective politically.  More pointedly and in almost direct allusion to Shapiro’s book, he states;

“Most stars today are wary about revealing their political positions and steadfastly avoid films with political subtexts (Sean Penn is an obvious exception).”

I wonder if he forgot about Susan Sarandon,Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand, et al?  Or, should has change his statement to, “Most Republicans today are wary about revealing . . . ?”  Bart also makes a point of stating that Kathryn Bigelow should know that “audiences prefer pirates to politics” and that maybe she should reconsider her next film about the Middle East.  Based upon these, Primetime Propaganda is on Bart’s mind, and, it is probably on everyone else’s as well.

Sean Penn
Sean Penn

But, does this blacklist against Conservatives really exist?  Personally, thank God, I have not been a victim of it as I work and develop my projects for a fairly Conservative Company.  However, I have seen it on a number of occasions.  All I can say is that if I had to seek employment in the industry now as a result of my openness about my politics, I might as well move to the South and open a pizza parlor.

During the presidential election of 2008, I was an avid supporter of John McCain even though I did not agree with him 100% of the time.  My simple thinking was anything is better than this liberal from Chicago right?  When I was having lunch with a very close friend, who coincidentally happened to be from Chicago, that I had known since the 1980’s, we began having a discussion about the election.  Conservatives, much more than Liberals, are known to have a tolerance of the other side.  Liberals, on the other hand, often explode and simply cannot handle anyone thinking opposite to them.  Well, this was the second time I got a full dose of this intolerance.  Once my friend, a television host and stand-up comedian, realised that I was promoting McCain over Obama, he got up in the middle of the restaurant, flipped me off and said in a rather loud voice, “I am through with you.” That day, he defriended me on My Space (it was before the Facebook explosion) and I have not heard from him since even though he is rather close to one of my nephews.  I must say I miss his friendship.

My prior experience of this intolerance by the other side occurred during the election of 2004.  At that time, a rather well know Hollywood editor whom was working for me came into my office and asked me if I was voting for Bush.  I replied in the affirmative.  She then asked me if I cared about a women’s right to choose and that Bush’s potential to nominate a Supreme Court justice may take that right away.  I told her that I might indeed be inclined to have that right taken away as I am pro-life.  She didn’t even respond.  She just screamed and ran out of the room.  We worked together on the remainder of the project and got along, but I have not heard from her since.  I would still hire her in a minute as she is very talented, but I doubt she would work for me.

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My only firsthand experience with actual blacklisting occurred while casting a film in 2007.  We auditioned a well know Conservative TV star and he nailed the part.  All of the producers, myself included, were inclined to hire him on the spot.  His audition was that good.  Immediately after he left the room, we began discussing our feelings.  The director then looked at us straight in the eyes and said, “Isn’t he one of them right wingers?”  My producing partner then said, “Yes.”  The director replied, “Well, I don’t want any of them right-wingers in my movie.”  That was simply the end of it.  The actor was no longer considered.  However, prior to our leaving the room, I looked at the director and told him/her, “Just be careful, there may be one of those right-wingers in the room talking with you right now.”  Needless to say, we did not get a long for the rest of the shoot even though we spent a lot of time together over the next six months.

Since I have started this web page, I have heard dozens of similar stories; some first hand and some second hand.  One of my favorites involved a meeting held on the set of a television series on the Monday before the 2008 election.  During that meeting the producers and director actually told the cast and crew, “If anyone is voting for McCain tomorrow, don’t bother coming to work on Wednesday.”  Can you imagine what would have happened had that been said by a Conservative Republican?  It would have been all of the news media the next day and the person speaking the lines would have been looking for work the next day.  Here, nothing happened and the few Conservatives working on the show just kept their mouth shut and exercised their Constitutional Right to vote the next day without anyone on the show becoming aware.

In conclusion, I would have to say that the blacklist definitely exists, and, it is more overt than covert.  However, there is some hope on the horizon as there are many more Conservatives in Hollywood than the media and the Hollywood community cares to admit.  I would say, it is closer to 60/40 than 75/25.  How much closer, I don’t know.  But, when it comes down to hiring, I will not allow their prejudice to get in the way.  I will hire the best person for the job regardless of their political leanings.  But, if there are two people just as qualified for a job and one is Conservative, I’ll let you figure out the answer to that.

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19 Responses to "Are Conservatives Really Blacklisted?"

  1. Excellent article. I have been defriended on Facebook by several people because of my conservative political views, yet I have not defriended one person based on their political beliefs. Who’s more tolerant?

    With women, it almost always comes down to the ‘choice’ issue. Look, I am becoming more Libertarian every day and I don’t like the government telling people what they can and can’t do. But, the government tells me I can’t kill someone else without consequences. Why should it be different for killing babies?

    I long for the days when Hollywood was Conservative – Frank Capra, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, etc. Your article has given me hope.

  2. I pray every night that someday the movie and TV industry will return to the days of the 40s and 50s when it was pro America and COMMUNISTS were blacklisted! Isn’t it amazing that even when Senator Joseph McCarthy was actually proven right by old Soviet Union documents that he’s STILL vilified by the MSM and left leaning entertainment business.

  3. My wife had people defriend her because she thanked the troops when Osama got killed. Apparently you can’t even thank the troops without giving praise to Obama.

    But to the point of this article, I would never criticize how anyone should talk about sensitive subjects and potentially risk their livelihood, but I don’t think these insider stories make as much as an impact when the names aren’t named. People don’t completely buy into the “so and so said” anymore than they buy into the “anonymous sources said.” I’m thankful for the insiders look and at least shining a light on the issue, but I think these stories will instantly have more impact when names are given. Look at Primetime Propaganda. Half the discussions being generated wouldn’t even exist unless you knew it was Vin Di Bona and Marcy Carsey and Maria Kauffman who were being accused of the conservative blacklisting.

    Still, thanks for at least revealing those stories. Each one cracks their foundation a little at a time.

    1. Brian: I can give you the names in a private email, but I don’t want to do it publicly as people’s livelihoods are at stake. Ben Shapiro is naming names because he has them on tape and it’s the point of his book.

  4. It burns me up to think that the movie going, record buying and concert going i had been engaged in for over 4 decades was me to ignorantly put money into the pockets of these entertainer liberals spouting their leftist, diatribe and socialist agendas. No more.

    Back in the day when watching these tv shows or movies i just thought that when an actor started expousing those philosophical lines it was just something to get me thinking a little deeper than i always had. Little did i know that i was being subliminally conditioned to think in ultra liberal ways.

    After hearing Ben Shapiro speak on the bias of Hollywood, i went to youtube to look at some tv episodes of some popular shows that i loved watching. I was blown away by what i, at the time didn’t know, the studio heads hadwere concocted.

    Case in point: On an episode of Happy days titled Fonzie saves The Day, Richie, Potsy and Ralph Malph were about to get their noggins beat in by a gang in a pool hall. Sure enough Richie goes into long spiel about ‘violence never solves anything, the only way to win is if our army is bigger than your army, we have the UN; no more wars, why can’t people be like governments’ and so on. After seeing this all i could say was “well i’ll be doggone.”

    No way in a million years would i have known at the time that i was being indoctinated with liberal think through these shows. But now i know. I’m done with Hollywood; for the most part. I used to be a movie and tv junkie from the 60’s to the 80’s.

    I don’t go to movies anymore nor do i watch ANY tv sitcoms or drams. I watch TCM, the Western Channel, Pawn Stars, Logging shows, sports and etc (gotta watch them for hidden messages too you know; now that’s paranoia, or is it?)

    These stars today won’t be getting my dough to help pay for one of their cars or multiple mansions again. They rail against capitalism but seem to have no problem banking those million dollar salaries for their work. We’re finally hip to you tinsletown.

    I hope one day a few conservative billionaires will get together and form their own movie companies, have their own network shows, their own award shows and Hollywood or should i say Liberalwood can go straight to…well, you know where.

    In the late 70’s i was shacking up with my girlfriend in my parents apartment. My mom said “either get married or get out.” I said “the marriage license is just a piece of paper.” Know where I got that piece of “liberated” garbage from? You guessed it. TV!

    Watch Happy Days episode here:

  5. While I agree that conservatives have been blacklisted in Hollywood I think it may be a house of cards. I believe many Hollywood types like to consider themselves open-minded and will feel ashamed as they realize how they’ve unintentionally hurt friends, associates and other members of the community.

    The abject failure of the Obama presidency has given them pause and may lead them to consider other opinions. They may also realize that the stagnation of ideas and originality in the industry may in part be due to a narrow mindset.

    They can see that anti-American and overly political movies continually bomb at the box office. After all, movies and television is a business and the business must survive first and foremost.

    This could be the beginning of a new Hollywood revival…I hope.

    1. “I believe many Hollywood types like to consider themselves open-minded and will feel ashamed as they realize how they’ve unintentionally hurt friends, associates and other members of the community.”

      Sorry Mister B but this thinking — ironically — is akin to the Liberal calculus which says that showing our enemies love and/or making them feel guilty about their actions will provide sufficient motivation for them to be kinder, and it never works that way.

      In my experience, whenever two sides are in direct opposition to each other and that opposition is ideological (as this one is), such things as Guilt and Self Awareness are rarely if ever a palliative. It’s just simple human nature.

      In other words, Don’t hold your breath.

  6. By the way, Frank, this essay was tremendously revealing and insightful and, dare I say it, pretty damn scary.

    And I think I know the identity of that blacklisting director that you worked with back in 2007 (“Isn’t he one of them Right Wingers?”)

    Don’t worry, though. I won’t be revealing any names. In fact, I will take his/her name to the grave, if necessary. I swear to God, I would leap out of an airplane without a parachute or play Russian Roulette with six bullets in the chamber or drive my car over a friggin’ cliff before disclosing the name of that director.


    I think it’s safe to say that he/she is real intolerant jerk-weed.

  7. I’m not in the entertainment field, I’m an academic at a significant north american university, and practically everything you say here is true in academia, except that it has more to do with working environment than hiring, which is pretty strictly monitored in our environment. In academia I would say the ratio is more like 75:25 than 60:40, though it may be even steeper. Academics, however, are generally — paradoxically — uninformed about political issues. I am astounded by the ignorance and pack-mentality of my colleagues in this domain, people who are leading thinkers in their own fields. I imagine Hollywood folks on both sides of the political sphere are more conversant; perhaps that’s natural because articulation, backstory and worldview are central to the entertainment industry. Your job, after all, is (to be very shallow) to take an audience’s mind and emotions captive.

    It’s hard being a conservative in the academy, but collegiality goes a long way. There are folks who never forget that you’re “the enemy”, but others who are golden, and their friendship and goodwill transcend political lines. Among those for whom I have the deepest respect (and I believe it is reciprocated) are several whom I would categorize as soft (or not-so-soft) socialists. Outing yourself politically, if you’re a conservative, can be a traumatic thing in academia or the media, but you sure find out who your REAL friends are.

    1. Professor, I thank you for your insight into the academic world. I’m sure that you are subject to a much stronger majority than we have in the Entertainmnet Industry. The only difference that us Conservatives in the industry must put up with is the level of exposure our industry has.

      Academia has its issues of indoctrination, but our industry is all over the preess 24/7.

      I applaud you for your guts.

  8. Clotilde Soupert · Edit

    When Tom Hanks ponied up $10,000 for Clinton’s “defense fund,” that’s when I stopped watching Hanks. My family thought I was being terribly unreasonable—Tom Hanks is a wonderful actor they cried. And I agree. But I have never spent another dime on Tom Hanks, and I don’t watch him “for free” either. The industry of “Hollywood” would probably make a lot more money if the liberals were as careful and circumspect as the conservatives.

  9. It’s funny, I have the same experience with liberals in northern California. You tolerate their views and in return you are yelled at, called names (literally) and hated. I see I am not the only one who experiences this. The funny thing is, if you want to win elections you want to get people to your side. The liberals approach assures I would never vote Democratic even if I supported their views.

  10. It should have been the opportunity…experience…of a lifetime, especially for a gay man. To meet the one and only Barbra Streisand…OMG. But was it a dream come true or a nightmare? In his new book Marc Freden describes meeting, talking with or interviewing three of the most iconic women in Hollywood. In his chapter “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, Freden talks about an interview he had with Barbra Streisand…could she have rated Good, Bad or Ugly in Freden’s eyes. Well, suffice it to say, Freden believes he must apologize.

  11. It should have been the opportunity…experience…of a lifetime, especially for a gay man. To meet the one and only Barbra Streisand…OMG. But was it a dream come true or a nightmare? In his new book Marc Freden describes meeting, talking with or interviewing three of the most iconic women in Hollywood. In his chapter “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, Freden talks about an interview he had with Barbra Streisand…could she have rated Good, Bad or Ugly in Freden’s eyes. Well, suffice it to say, Freden believes he must apologize.

  12. California Real Estate Blog · Edit

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  13. I know this article is a couple years old now and nobody is really looking at it anymore, but I came across it during my personal crisis in this industry. I began 15 years ago and rose quickly. Within 5 years, I was holding an Emmy in my hand on stage at the Shrine. I’m very easy to work with, I put in long hours for the love of my job, and have nothing but accolades about my talent, speed, and work ethic. However, I was never completely comfortable with the political environment in my industry. I kept a closed mouth since it was never very intolerable. But in the past few years, it’s become oppressive. In 2008, I was cutting a film for a director who hired me on the spot as we meshed in the interview. He was so funny and we just clicked from a work and a friendship level. He also has a working relationship with the Zucker brothers. One day he bought that topic up, demeaning their political views. I don’t remember to this day what it was that I said. I only remember his response. “Please don’t tell me you’re conservative, because I’ll never hire you again.”

    I was shocked. I didn’t consider myself conservative, I was just not comfortable with this cult of personality of Obama. I was weird to me. I did, however, depend upon the misconception that politics doesn’t matter when it comes to work or social relationships. Again, I never came near to proselytizing, I just felt comfortable enough to express that I don’t get why people were blindly worshiping certain people and principals. I thought, coming to the table with facts, that liberal associates would at least try to understand my side and agree to remain respectful of me. Unfortunately that was the beginning of my downfall.

    On my Facebook page, I felt I could no longer remain silent as half of my friends posted politically facile opinions and at the same time, my conservative friends posted their opinions. Although I didn’t agree with all of my conservative friends, I still was on their side for most of the important issues. I was careful though. But not careful enough.

    I thought that Facebook privacy settings were strong. I didn’t think that anyone out here could see posts I made on conservative friends’ pages that were private. I didn’t know about the “ticker” unfortunately.

    Leading up to and after the Obama win in 2012, I posted many things that I just feel had to come out. I didn’t think any of the writers or producers or actors or fellow editors that I am friends with on Facebook were going to see them. I was wrong.

    After the win I was disgusted by the arrogance and poor sportsmanship of my colleagues in my industry. I posted scathing things about them on friends’ pages, comfortable in the thought that they would never see it. I was never disrespectful. Just dismayed. They won. Why all the aggression? Why the vehemence. The anger and mean attitude toward anyone who didn’t agree with them right down the party line?

    These posts I made started years ago. I didn’t know about the damned ticker. Despite having an Emmy. Despite my overall reputation of being a great editor. Besides being known, as was told to me by the head of Fox, as one of the top five comedy editors available, work began to dwindle. I NEVER discuss politics in my office, although they always do. I remain silent or even agreeing to some point. I felt like a whore, but I wanted to work. But over the past few years, apparently word got out.

    Now I’m looking at two years, with the exception of a short lived ABC sitcom, with no work. My agent tells me to hang in there. But in the same breath she tells me how stupid Americans are who didn’t vote for Obama.

    I’m just typing this out without proofreading it, so forgive my lack of eloquence. I’m just so frustrated that my once lustrous career has come to a terrible end simply because I don’t feel the same way as most others in this industry. I can’t force myself to change. I’m a deep thinker. A skeptic. And their arguments make no logical sense. But I remained quiet about my views except on Facebook. But that has come back to haunt me.

    As much as I hate to leave this industry, I haven’t a choice. I am forced to move back home as I can’t live on the street in L.A. Everything I have is gone as I feel that I have been blacklisted, despite my talents. It’s time to move on, but not without at least expressing myself in forums such as these.

    It was a great run. But not one for people who don’t have liberal extremist views.

    Goodbye Hollywood. Thanks for the deception that this is the most accepting place in the world. It isn’t. It’s the most hateful and discriminatory I’ve ever seen.

  14. Maureen Langford · Edit

    I have been de-friended by relatives. If I wasn’t so out spoken about it, may not have happened. I am strong in my beliefs. I do not align with either party but I am definitely a conservative and that fact alone will be my deciding factor on who I vote for if I feel equal about each candidate. Sometimes voting can be just voting for the lesser evil, so to speak. It is hard to believe in politicians anymore, either side. Too many rinos out there now.
    I do believe the right is far more tolerant than the left. They have no clue what a real conservative is. They also do not see the importance of having more than one party and one view.
    Loved the article!


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