Good Morning, all.
1 The blacklisting of R. Lee Ermey. Ermey, the ex-Marine turned actor who gained fame playing a Marine drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” died this week. I had thought he might already be dead, since I hadn’t seen him show up in movies or TV shows for quite a while. No, it appears that he was blackballed by Hollywood after he criticized President Obama in 2010, while he was being hired with some regularity. Speaking at a Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots rally, he said it was difficult to raise money for the charity because “the economy sucks” and went on to blame the Obama Administration, saying,
“We should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing, and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.”
Ermey’s agent and the sudden reduction in his offers persuaded the tough Marine to beg for forgiveness with an abject apology for daring to critique Obama so harshly. Never mind: His contract as a GEICO character was terminated, and the company removed Ermey’s commercial from their official YouTube channel. He later told interviewers that he had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and that he never had major film offer after he criticized Obama.
a) I wonder when fair, decent, ethical Americans who believe in freedom of thought and expression will become sufficiently alarmed about progressives and Democrats using blacklists and boycotts to enforce ideological conformity. This increasingly totalitarian end of the political spectrum needs to be informed that its ethics alarms are seriously malfunctioning.
b) Actors identified with products and companies cannot complain when they lose those jobs after making divisive political comments. If Ermey wanted to do commercials for anyone other than the NRA, his comments about Obama were just plain stupid.
c) As an actor in films, however, Ermey played villains and parodies of military characters. His political views in those contexts should have been irrelevant, and certainly wouldn’t harm receipts for movies he was in. If he really was blacklisted, it was an act of punishment for refusing to accept the Hollywood community’s lockstep worship of a weak and divisive President.
d) In contrast, recall this public rant from actor Robert DeNiro in January regarding the current President of the United States:
“This fucking idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fucking fool. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed. Our government today, with the propping-up of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’
I don’t think Bobby has lost any roles over this. To be fair, if there is a place where The King’s Pass, aka “The Star Syndrome,” rules supreme, it’s Hollywood. A major star like DeNiro obviously has more leeway than a narrow-range character actor like Ermey, and Ermey had to know that. Still, the double standard is striking.
e) Writing about Ermey’s fate, Hollywood blogger Jeffrey Wells wrote…
“The Right wrote the book on political blacklisting in the late ’40s and especially the ’50s. So much so that they kinda “own” blacklisting in perpetuity, as they put many good people of conscience and principle through considerable misery, and thereby earned a good amount of poison karma for themselves, and so any blacklisting that comes back at their descendants is just too effing bad. Blacklisting is a bad thing, but they can’t deny the discriminatory karma that’s in their blood. If you hatch ugly eggs, you can’t complain when the chickens come home to roost, even if it’s a half-century or more later.”
What an idiot. This lowers Ethics Dunce-hood into Ethics Retardation territory. So R. Lee Ermey deserves to be blacklisted because Hollywood was blacklisting suspected Communists during the Red Scare and the McCarthy era. I wonder how many people read garbage like this and nod in agreement. If it is even one, it is one too many.
2. And speaking of no tolerance..It’s hard to imagine a strong rebuttal of conservative blogger Jim Treacher’s verdict on the Starbucks mess:
I hope this fiasco proves instructive to Howard Schultz and everybody else at Starbucks. No matter how liberal you are, no matter how hard you work to establish and maintain your #woke credentials, all it takes is one slip-up. Just one viral video, taken on one of the cameras that we all carry now, and the angry mob will descend on you. Nothing you do or say will appease them. No apology will be sufficient. You can’t grovel low enough.
Treacher reminds us that the same Starbuck management now threatened with a boycott based on one mishandled incident once distributed this questionnaire in its stores:
3. Sean Hannity’s undisclosed conflict of interest. During the hearing this week over materials gathered during the raid of Michael Cohen’s office and home, it was revealed that Fox News pundit was one of Cohen’s clients. The problem? Hannity had forcefully condemned the raid, while never telling his audience that he had a personal stake in the incident, which might have vacuumed up some of his secrets as well as the President’s.
That’s a bright line breach of ethics, extending beyond the obvious conflict of interest into outright dishonesty. Hannity is presenting himself in such commentary as an objective, disinterested observer and analyst. By definition, he was not and is not.
When the relationship between Hannity and Cohen was revealed, Fox News provided a statement from its star pundit:
“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”
Sorry, Sean, but to be a lawyer’s client, you don’t have to retain him, get an invoice, pay legal fees, or use him in a matter between you and a third party. If you get legal advice from a lawyer, you’re his client. You are admitting that by saying that you assumed your conversations with him were confidential.
Some of Hannity’s defenders are trying to make a distinction between his ethical duties as a pundit as opposed to his disclosure obligations as a journalist. In this scenario, there is no distinction.