In his 2011 book Primetime Propaganda, author Ben Shapiro makes the case that television-industry executives, writers, and producers consciously seek to advance a liberal/left political agenda. The author based his thesis, in part, on 39 videotaped interviews which he conducted with high-ranking TV professionals. Among the noteworthy quotes and revelations contained in these videos were the following:
- Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman said that when she cast Candace Gingrich-Jones, half-sister of Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the minister of a lesbian wedding, “There was a bit of ‘fuck you’ in it to the right wing.” Kauffman also acknowledged that she had “put together a staff of mostly liberal people,” thereby confirming another major point of Shapiro’s book: that conservatives are not welcome in Hollywood.
- Soap and Golden Girls creator Susan Harris explained that Hollywood's hostility toward conservatives stems from the fact that the latter are “idiots” who have “medieval minds.”
- M*A*S*H writers/producers Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds proudly acknowledged the pacifist messages they had sought to promote in their program.
- MacGyver producer Vin Di Bona noted that anti-gun messages were a recurring theme in that program. When asked what he thought of conservative critics who claimed that Hollywood was overwhelmingly liberal, Di Bona responded: “I think it’s probably accurate, and I’m happy about it.”
- Leonard Goldberg — who has been the executive producer of such programs as Blue Bloods, Fantasy Island, Charlie’s Angels, and Starsky and Hutch — stated that liberalism in the TV industry is “100 percent dominant, and anyone who denies it is kidding, or not telling the truth.” When asked whether politics were a barrier to entry into the industry, Goldberg replied: “Absolutely.”
- When author Ben Shapiro told Fred Pierce, the president of ABC in the 1980s who was instrumental in Disney’s acquisition of ESPN, that “It’s very difficult for people who are politically conservative to break in” to television, Pierce responded: “I can’t argue that point.” Those who do not lean to the political left, Pierce said, “don’t promote [that reality]. It stays underground.”
- House creator David Shore acknowledged that "there is an assumption in this town that everybody is on the left side of the spectrum, and that the few people on the right side, I think people look at them somewhat aghast, and I'm sure it doesn't help them."
- When producer-director Nicholas Meyer was asked whether conservatives are discriminated against in Hollywood, he replied: "Well, I hope so." Meyer also admitted the political agenda behind The Day After, a 1983 TV movie which he directed for ABC that was seen by 100 million people: "My private, grandiose notion was that this movie would unseat Ronald Reagan when he ran for re-election."
- William Bickley, a writer on The Partridge Family and a producer on Happy Days, said he had infused anti-Vietnam War protest messages into the latter.
- Family Ties creator Gary David Goldberg explained how he had tried to make Republican character Alex Keaton a villain, but had been unsuccessful because actor Michael J. Fox (who portrayed Keaton) was too likable.
- A number of executives -- including Soap and Roseanne producer Marcy Carsey, and Desperate Housewives producer Marc Cherry -- acknowledged that they sought to advance a gay and lesbian political agenda in their programs. Carsey also said that she had insisted on portraying characters smoking marijuana in That ‘70s Show. “If this is a problem for you, we certainly understand, and we just won’t do the show,” she told executives at Fox.
- Cops creator John Langley said he was partial to segments where white people were the criminals.
- Fred Silverman, the former head of ABC and later NBC, said that in TV comedy today, “there’s only one perspective, and it’s a very progressive perspective.”
This section of Discover The Networks explores leftwing bias not only in television, but also in motion pictures and other aspects of the entertainment industry.
Adapted from "TV Executives Admit in Taped Interviews That Hollywood Pushes a Liberal Agenda," by HollywoodReporter.com (June 1, 2011).