Twenty-seven-year-old Ben Shapiro is a conservative writer and columnist who did some interesting legwork for his new book, Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV. Shapiro interviewed over seventy industry bigwigs in his quest to expose the left-wing bias that has allegedly infiltrated television programming in the last several decades. Shapiro believes he was granted his unique access as a right-winger thanks to certain assumptions. He says:
"There was a certain amount of stereotyping on their part in granting the interview. Many probably assumed that with a name like Shapiro and a Harvard Law credential, there was no need to Google me: I would have to be a leftist. In Hollywood, talking to a Jew with a Harvard Law baseball cap is like talking to someone wearing an Obama pin."
Poking around, Shapiro learns some interesting behind-the-scenes details. For instance, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman informs him that she hired a "bunch of liberals" to run the show, and also cast Newt Gingrich's sister, Candice, to play a minister at a lesbian wedding as an f-you to right-wingers.
Sesame Street is hammered pretty hard, whether it's for Grover vibing with a hippie, or Fox News slyly being referenced as "Pox News." And Jill Biden and Michelle Obama's high-profile cameo speaks for itself.
Happy Days writer Bill Bickley tells Shapiro that there was an anti-Vietnam subtext permeating the show, which was actually pretty obvious in retrospect, when you recall Fonzi's antipathy towards Robert McNamara. (Or Mrs. C's dove-shaped oven mitt.)
MacGyver was anti-gun, M*A*S*H had a pacifist agenda, Ann Coulter gave it a glowing blurb, you get the idea. The notion that Richard Nixon appearing on Laugh-In could be an electoral difference-maker in the '68 presidential race sounds crazy, but is perhaps the case. Since cathode rays are pretty much synonymous with brainwashing, the whole Manchurian Candidate intrigue supposedly infecting the boob tube may be less far-fetched than it sounds. When you consider Sesame Street's target demo, it's hard to deny that it's less about the sabre than the rattle.