Can Hollywood Help The Dems To Victory In 2004?
James Harding of the Financial Times has an interesting piece today that indicates Hollywood will be jumping into the presidential campaign behind the Democratic nominee once that candidate is determined. The piece reports that Bush’s effect on Hollywood is so polarizing that the Democratic Party’s appeal within the entertainment industry is almost “hegemonic.”
But when asked whether the Republican party is gaining ground in Hollywood, George Gorton, the long-time political adviser to Mr Schwarzenegger, answers bluntly: "The quick answer is no." A senior member of the Bush-Cheney '04 team in California says, resignedly, just the same.
Staunch Democrats such as Sean Daniel, producer of The Mummy movies and a host of others, says Mr Schwarzenegger has "a unique set of ties to the motion picture industry and is doing extremely well", but that does little for Mr Bush.
In fact, Mr Bush appears to have pushed Hollywood further into the Democratic embrace. David Karol, political scientist at Berkeley, says: "They are now so overwhelmingly Democrat, it is hegemonic."
He ascribes this partly to the well-known liberalism of the creative world and partly to the polarising presidency of Mr Bush: "Hollywood is especially concerned with cultural issues. Hollywood can feel threatened by the religious right," he says, particularly at the end of a week when the president has sought a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
And then there is the money. Executives at several companies such as Disney, Universal and Paramount, who chose not to be quoted when talking about politics, forecast a flood of campaign donations once the Democratic nominee is chosen. (John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, looks set to win most of the vote when 10 states vote next Tuesday and make himself the de facto Democratic candidate.)
But with Democrats sensing a new vulnerability in Mr Bush, the Hollywood money is coming: "A month ago, perhaps, people may have thought George Bush will get a second term and I will save my money for next time," says Mr Daniel. "Now cheques are being written to fund the Democratic ticket."
Along with the power and money of Hollywood to help the Democrats offset Bush’s large advantages with Corporate America and the far right, timing is playing into the Democrats hands as well. It hasn’t been lost on too many people what Clear Channel did to Howard Stern this week. I have no love lost for Stern, who I think sells himself and his intellect short by producing porn-laden trash for his TV show and a low-brow radio show. Yet it is also true that Clear Channel suspended him this week after he went after the FCC and the GOP over their reaction to the MTV Super Bowl half-time show debacle, and said he would support the Democrats this fall after supporting the GOP for years.
Stern, on the same show that compelled Clear Channel to act, suddenly vowed to back a Democrat after years of supporting Republican pols like New York Gov. George Pataki, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and President Bush. Clear Channel Radio president/CEO John Hogan is a huge Bush supporter. Was that a factor?
Clear Channel was quite happy to let Stern peddle his dreck for them when it got good ratings and cash for them, and didn’t cut too close to the bone for them. Now, he’s gone, and people in Hollywood are seeing the large hand of right-wing corporate censorship raise its head as a further manifestation of Michael Powell’s right-wing zealotry masquerading as free market competition.
Al Gore was not particularly loved by Hollywood in 2000 for obvious reasons. Yet Kerry and the DNC have the chance to appeal to the industry and their financial help this year over a set of common concerns and goals. The sooner the party or Kerry can get a high-level emissary out to Southern California to line up the resources and how the people and their money can be used this fall to get rid of Bush, the better.
Perhaps Bill Clinton could be of use here?