The Right’s Phantom Menace

When it comes to how the right should deal with Hollywood leftism, Andrew Breitbart, much as he did on the night of his passing, took a long way home. He advocated a complex battle plan to deal with a problem that, it turns out, has a deceptively simple solution. During his life, he worked tirelessly to popularize the phrase “Politics is downstream from culture,” and he never wasted an opportunity to pound that message into the heads of conservatives. As goes the entertainment industry, he would argue, so goes the political landscape. The entertainment biz creates our shared narrative and, as a result, influences how we vote. If the right ever wants to regain the White House, we need to get out there and make movies, TV shows, and popular music. It’s the only way!

This was the dream behind Friends of Abe (which I was a member of for five years), the organization of Hollywood Republicans that Andrew was instrumental in guiding: conservatives making their own entertainment, not so much FUBU (“For Us By Us”), but FYBU (“For You By Us”). Copy the Hollywood model of dishing up entertainment for the masses sprinkled with political propaganda. This was the theory behind not only Friends of Abe but also the Kelsey Grammer-fronted RightNetwork, Glenn Beck’s GBTV, Bill Whittle’s Declaration Entertainment, David Zucker’s An American Carol, and Aubrey Chernick’s PJTV.

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Notice a common trait among the entities I just listed? Yep—they all failed miserably. Friends of Abe? Folded last year. GBTV? DOA. PJTV? R.I.P. Grammer’s RightNetwork? Aborted in utero. Declaration Entertainment? Website shuttered. American Carol? Seen by fewer people than Bigfoot. And as each attempt at creating a right-of-center entertainment outlet folded, Hollywood cranked up the volume on its leftist bias to eleven and beyond, inundating the public with an ever-rising flood of left-leaning messages in movies, TV shows, and pop music.

But wait…even with all that Hollywood “interference,” didn’t we just win the last presidential election? Don’t we have the House and Senate, too? Haven’t we also won an unprecedented number of statewide legislative seats and governorships?

I hate to say it, I hate to even suggest it, but what if Andrew was wrong? What if our fight against Hollywood has been nothing more than an obsession with a chimera of our own making? Maybe Hollywood doesn’t have that much influence after all; maybe the public isn’t that impressionable; maybe it turns out politics really isn’t “downstream from culture.” If I live another hundred years, I doubt I’ll ever see the entertainment industry wage the kind of war against a presidential candidate that it waged against Trump. Every stop was pulled out, every heartstring was tugged, every manipulation technique was used, and it didn’t work. Breitbart, Beck, Chernick, Zucker, Whittle, etc., had exerted a great deal of effort trying to create an entertainment infrastructure to counter the Hollywood narrative…and what if it was all a complete waste of time? What if the entertainment industry never had the awesome powers we ascribed to it? What if it turns out that the menace we worked so tirelessly to counter is easily defeated by the cheapest and least time-consuming trick in the book—ignoring it?

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