Celebrities sell – that’s largely why they’re celebrities. Britney Spears’ rehab-rotation makes headlines and sells newspapers. Anna Nicole Smith’s death is fodder for nearly every media outlet in America. When Oprah Winfrey talks, millions of people listen. Unfortunately, when celebrities talk politics, it also sells, and buyers should beware.
HBO’s Bill Maher regularly skewers conservatives in the basest way, with words he would never use against liberals. For instance, on Feb. 20, he told NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno (audience: 5.7 million) that President Bush is a “vain half-wit” and a “Gilligan who cannot find his a** with two hands.”
Rosie O’Donnell, a co-host of ABC’s The View, which reaches nearly 2 million Americans every day, declared on the Sept. 12 edition of the show: “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America ….” A few weeks later, Nov. 9, she lectured co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck to “get away from the fear” of Islamic radicals. “Don’t fear the terrorists,” said O’Donnell. “They’re mothers and fathers.”
On Oct. 24, O’Donnell told The View’s audience that apartheid South Africa is “very similar today to what we have in the United States, thanks to the Patriot Act.”
Ms. O’Donnell is free to express her views – that’s her right in “apartheid” America. Yet ABC has provided her an influential platform and clearly does not oppose her views. In fact, the only public action taken by ABC, by Executive Producer Barbara Walters, was to try to smooth things over between O’Donnell and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who had feuded for weeks with O’Donnell over personal issues.
Radical Christians and paternal terrorists are okay, but don’t mess with “The Donald.”
Other left-leaning celebrities get lots of airtime, on the networks, on cable, and in other top media.
Actor Charlie Sheen, for instance, thinks that 9/11 may have been a government conspiracy – that sinister U.S. sources engineered the airplane attacks and blew up the World Trade Center with timed demolitions. Sheen’s loopy view was broadcast on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! CNN also picked it up, and Fox’s Hannity & Colmes tried to ridicule it. Actor James Brolin, on ABC’s The View, also peddled the 9/11-conspiracy line, urging the audience to check out a well-known 9/11-conspiracy Web site.
Not surprisingly, Brolin’s wife, Barbra Streisand, a long-time Hollywood liberal, confided to some of her friends that the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone in a 2002 plane crash was “no accident,” reported The New York Post. Apparently, Wellstone was bumped off to make room for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
This is the same Streisand who consented to an interview on ABC’s 20/20 with Barbara Walters in 2000 only because ABC reportedly promised to let her explain why she supported Al Gore and the Democratic platform during the broadcast. That’s a convenient form of political advertising.
The celebrity liberal lunacy is nearly limitless. Actor and singer Harry Belafonte traveled to Venezuela in 2006 and told its socialist president, Hugo Chavez, “No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we’re here to tell you … [that] millions support your revolution, support your ideas, and we are expressing solidarity with you.”
One may oppose the Iraq war and reject Bush’s other policies but when it comes to the greatest terrorist, reason suggests that the leaders of al-Qaeda, communist North Korea, and Red China make more suitable candidates than George W. Bush.
John Cusack would likely disagree, however. The successful actor wrote on HuffingtonPost.com on Nov. 11, 2005, that Bush & Co. are “lying about the war and profiting from it. … This is indeed a league of bastards – these men are human scum.”
Actor Alec Baldwin, in April 2005, declared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that “the leadership of the Republican Party are a bunch of sociopathic maniacs who have their lips super-glued to the a** of the conservative right.”
At an anti-war rally broadcast by C-SPAN on Oct. 26, 2006, actress Susan Sarandon warned, “let us find a way to resist fundamentalism that leads to violence – fundamentalism of all kinds, in al-Qaeda and within our government.”
Sean Penn, another actor-cum-activist, told CNN’s Larry King Live on Sept. 14, 2006 that President Bush has “devastated our democracy.” Three weeks later, of course, the Democrats won both the House and the Senate in a national election.
Liberal celebrities can have their say. No fair American would knock their right to free speech. But it’s also fair to remind Americans just what the limousine liberals are saying, and how the likes of ABC and CNN and other media seem to do all they can to accommodate them.
Michael Chapman is director of communications for the Media Research Center, www.MRC.org.