Published July 13, 2011
There's a familiar adage that recognizing you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. And Hollywood certainly has a problem with discrimination against conservatives.
As I detailed in my new book, "Primetime Propaganda," Hollywood insiders routinely discriminate against conservatives, believing them to be untalented hacks and political barbarians undeserving of a paycheck.
I spoke with top executives, writers, and producers in the industry who agreed that discrimination is common – and some even celebrated it.
But many in Hollywood continued to deny this truth. Marta Kauffman of "Friends" fame – whom I interviewed, and who told me that her writers room was made up of liberals – dismissed such criticisms were “silly.”
Patrick Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times said that such accusations were largely unsubstantiated, despite the tape I released.
Now, however, the worm is turning. Last week, for the first time, Hollywood openly acknowledged that it has a discrimination problem against conservatives.
As The Hollywood Reporter reported, the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors, a major industry insider honor society, passed a resolution in the wake of revelations springing from my book.
The resolution amended the organization’s charter to stand against discrimination based on “political ideology.” It was approved unanimously; only a few weeks after the Caucus refused to pass such a resolution, claiming that it was a “non-partisan” organization and therefore could not stand against political discrimination.
What prompted the reversal?
Public pressure from the Caucus’ conservative members, who resigned from the Caucus after one of its top members, was caught on tape stating that he was happy conservatives are blacklisted in Hollywood. Lionel Chetwynd, multiple Emmy nominee and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and Norman Powell, producer of 24 and former CBS Television executive, walked out of the Caucus.
At first, the Caucus stonewalled. That’s no surprise – in Hollywood, discrimination against conservatives is an accepted way of doing business.
I called "All in the Family" creator Norman Lear, for example, who also co-founded the Caucus and the First Amendment liberal organization People for the American Way, asking him to join in the fight against political discrimination in Hollywood. He pretended no such discrimination existed. He asked me to name the names of those who discriminated – an odd request from such an ardent opponent of McCarthyism. He then refused to accept the names I did give him, and told me that he’d call me back on the subject after doing some research. Three weeks later, I’m still waiting.
But inside the Caucus, members were standing up for political openness. Greg Strangis, producer of "Eight is Enough" and "Falcon Crest," among others, insisted that the Caucus take up the resolution. He also penned a statement that the Caucus approved, supporting the ideal that the TV industry embrace a “diverse pool of talented men and women working in an open, free and supportive environment,” including “the American tradition of free speech.”
The Caucus finally caved and accepted what they should have accepted all along: that discrimination based on political orientation is wrong.
Now, Powell, Chetwynd and Strangis – and I – will be petitioning the Writers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Producers Guild, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Academy of Television Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for similar resolutions.
Resolutions won’t solve the problem. But they will serve as a great start toward Hollywood imposing a higher moral standard on itself: the standard of free speech they were always supposed to embrace.
Ben Shapiro is the host of the Ben Shapiro show on WEUS in Orlando, Florida and is the author of four books including his newly released "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV," published by Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.