They're coming for your children! They're coming for the womenfolk! Then they're coming after you! Norman Lear, the famous television show producer, offered this hysterically paranoid assessment of the allegedly growing and presumably insidious power of "the right":
I want to suggest that we lefties start laying claim to what we see as "sacred" and serve it up proudly to the religious right – to the James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove ... hatemongers, sheathed in sanctity, and to the Koch brothers, the types that fund them and use them so effectively for their own political power-grabbing purposes. Over the past several decades, the power-grabbing right has built a powerful infrastructure – radio and TV stations and networks. They've built think tanks, colleges and law schools.
How accurate is Lear's assessment of the supposed power and influence of the right? Is the right steadily forming a formidable alliance of academics, media outlets, websites, etc., that serve as a fourth column for the "right wing"? Even if this were true, what about the power of the left?
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Let's look at the mainscream media. In "Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind," UCLA economist and political science professor Dr. Tim Groseclose uses three different methods to determine the SQ – or slant quotient – of the major media outlets. Of the 20 most prominent news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, "Good Morning America" and Time magazine, he found only two that leaned to the right: The Washington Times and Fox News.
True, the network evening news shows no longer hold the market share of years past, but nearly 25 million Americans still turn to Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams and Scott Pelley each night. That means eight times as many viewers watch ABC/NBC/CBS as watch "The O'Reilly Factor," the top-rated cable news/talk program.
When people like Lear speak of the growing power of the right-wing cabal, they believe Fox leads the charge. And Bill O'Reilly is clearly the face of the Fox News network. But as hated as O'Reilly is by the left, how legitimate is their description of O'Reilly as a right-wing ideologue?
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O'Reilly is not even a Republican. He is registered as an independent and opposes the death penalty. He supported – at least initially – the Senate's so-called "amnesty bill." His opposition to Obamacare is based on cost, rather than the Constitution. He believes that in "a system where everybody is guaranteed the same health care ... whether you have a lot of money or no money, you're gonna get the same health care. Now, in theory, that sounds good ... but in practice, we got a $14 trillion debt that we can't pay off, and this is gonna add to it, big-time." He wondered how a man can raise a family of four on minimum wage. In a recent interview with former President Bill Clinton, O'Reilly said, "I think I am paying my fair share (of taxes). Now, I didn't mind paying what you had me at. I didn't mind paying you that." Somewhere, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist is having heartburn.
Now let's look at academia. Given the dominance of left-wingers in academia, that Lear can even say this with a straight face is astonishing. Let's look at who is teaching our college-level students. The American Enterprise Institute's magazine examined the political registrations of professors at 20 colleges and universities, representing a cross section of higher education – public and private, big and small, in the North, South, East and West. The study divided the registrations into those belonging to a "party of the left" – Democrats, Greens or some other liberal political party – or a "party of the right" – either Republican or Libertarian. Overwhelmingly, by a more than 13-1 margin, the profs were registered with a party of the left. Many departments had no professors from a right-wing party.
Let's look at Hollywood. Ben Shapiro, a recent Harvard Law School grad, wrote a book called "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV." He interviewed, on the record, more than 100 industry bigwigs, including David Shore ("House"), Fred Silverman (former CBS programming vice president, ABC Entertainment president, and NBC president and CEO), Marta Kauffman ("Friends"), Larry Gelbart ("M*A*S*H") and Mark Burnett ("Survivor"). When asked whether there is a prevailing pro-left ideology, if not a left-wing agenda, several major players admitted that, of course, Hollywood leans left. Others bluntly bragged about their bias against conservatives and the extent of the left-wing messages inserted into their comedies and dramas.
Perhaps Lear might consider the advice the late Andy Rooney once offered to a CBS colleague: "There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions. And I think ... Dan (Rather) is transparently liberal. Now, he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him, too, but I think he should be more careful."
Given the left's dominance in the major media, academia and Hollywood, it is beyond insulting to hear influential Hollywood lefties like Mr. Lear whine about the supposed power of the right. Makes them sound like a, well, "Meathead."