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The left owns the microphone and is not going to give it up. Conservatives need to buy their own microphones…

If you want to reach the mainstream population with the message of conservative values, then you have a very difficult task before you. How is the conservative voice heard when the microphones of the mainstream media and entertainment are owned by liberals? Sure, you can post on YouTube, but how are people going to find your video? You can create a blog, but how are people going to even know that it exists? Twitter accounts do not guarantee that your message will be read. The point I am making is that it is hard to be heard by a large percentage of the population. If only you could be invited to comment on one of the news shows on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, or even one of the major networks. Perhaps The View would have you on as a guest. But, why would any of these shows want you as a guest? You are trying to become known. However, until you are well known, the shows that would help people get to know you do not value what you have to say.

Instead, the vast majority of those who get the mic passed to them to be heard are not worthy of being listened to. Of course, what I mean is that they are often given a voice for topics in which they possess no expertise.[1] The media seems to care very much about what actors have to say about politics, wars, and ethical issues.[2] While there are exceptions, the expertise of the entertainment industry does not go much further than their acting, singing, and dancing classes. Mark Ruffalo did not go to a place called “Stella Adler’s Studio of Acting and Political Theory.”[3] This is because Stella Adler’s area of expertise is acting and not political theory. Yet, the general lack of expertise does not stop many in film, stage, music, and the news from giving their opinion on what they perceive to be important.[4] What the common citizen must keep in mind is that these people are in a position to be heard; however, what they say has no more weight than what you and your friends have to say while enjoying beers and cigars. 

It is also important to understand that those who wield the microphone possess great power. Except for Fox News and much of talk radio[5], the Liberal Left owns the microphone, and they decide what gets heard and by whom. Actors explicitly state their political and ethical positions as though their views are obviously true, and those who disagree are either idiots or evil.[6] One does not need to look very far currently for examples of this. After Donald Trump won the presidential election, Hollywood had a metaphorical meltdown.[7] There has been a deluge of political opinions, much of which stepped far beyond the borders of hate-speech, by self-proclaimed political pundits. Bette Midler,[8] Madonna, Ashley Judd,[9] Loretta Swit,[10] Scarlett Johansson,[11] Snoop Dog,[12] Emma Watson,[13] almost every late-night talk show host,[14] the cast of Saturday Night Live,[15] and a much longer list than this essay has time for have taken time out of their busy schedules to try to save the world from the evil and idiotic Republican President.[16] Many of the “unbiased” news casters have weighed in on the election, rather than merely presented the facts.[17] Anderson Cooper openly rolled his eyes and mocked Kellyanne Conway during an interview.[18] 

Unspoken and implicit statements are just as important to controlling what people think about and what the options of opinions are. This is especially true when it comes to television and movies. Just as companies utilize product placement in film and television in order to get their product sold, writers and directors place a menu of political and social positions before the audience for them to take on as their own. This is a very indirect way to get one’s view across; but it works as well for ideology as it does for Coca-Cola.[19] The way it works in product placement is easy; the product is placed in the scene as a prop or part of the background. With the presence of the product in the scene there is an assumption that it is acceptable or preferred by the star. For example, if a can of Coca-Cola is held by the dashingly handsome star of the summer blockbuster, there is a presumption that he chose that beverage over the others. In other words, this cool guy likes Coca-Cola. The product does not even need to be the subject of the conversation; it only needs to be on the periphery in order to work. 

When it comes to ideology, something very similar happens. Take note that when religious characters are introduced in a story on television, film, or stage, they will often be portrayed as sexual predators, stupid, smarmy, sinister, and downright sinful.[20] The same is true about political parties. Political villains in entertainment are almost universally Republicans. One the one hand, you have the caring, warmhearted, intelligent, witty Democrat. And, on the other hand, there is the war mongering, old, rich, white, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic Republican.[21] Most often, the actors who play these roles come across as weak or weird. This is in contrast to the smart, handsome, charismatic characters that tend to be anti-religious, liberal, and enlightened. The lovably eccentric, opioid-addicted genius Dr. House made no bones about his diagnosis of religion as irrational. The whole cast of CSI at some time or another made off the cuff statements concerning ethical, political, or religious issues.  

For the most part, these lines would have as little to do with the story line as a can of Coca-Cola. Yet, they are placed in the television show or movie. In a scene in Lethal Weapon 3, Danny Glover’s character’s daughter wears a tee-shirt promoting abortion rights. This is no accident; every detail of what will be in a scene is carefully and intentionally placed where the director wants it to be. In a scene in Lethal Weapon 4, the two stars, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, have a conversation directly in front of an anti-NRA poster that is advocating gun control legislation. This, again, is no accident. It merely reflects the ideology of those who make the films. Like the favorite cola chosen by the handsome star, the religious, ethical, and political views are presupposed in the character. These character traits are portrayed in a good light, of being intelligent, caring, tolerant, and correct. Movies and television shows do not take the time to defend why these positions are superior; they merely presuppose this and portray them as so. 

Another way the left places the products of their ideology is by leaving out the opposing voice. After all, they have control over what is said and what isn’t said. In this sense, those who control the microphone or visual production present a dearth of opposition to their own views. News, radio, television shows, and media simply do not seek out experts who oppose their political, social, and religious worldview. For the conservative who is aware of the experts who are available, it becomes scandalous that their voices are left to conservative journals and the Web sites on which their ideas reside.[22]

It is very rare indeed that talk shows, mainstream news outlets, and entertainment media present a robust response to liberal ideology. Given that these groups just leave out the conservative argument, those who watch and listen to these groups hear only one side of what tends to be very complex stories. There is an old warning that states: “beware of the sound of one hand clapping.” Yet, that is just what one gets when he takes in mainstream news, music, and entertainment. Because the other side’s argument is left out, many conclude that there are no good reasons to believe in conservative principles. They are left with the impression that conservative principles lack reason and are irrational.

Conservatives want to watch the news and be entertained, just as their liberal counterparts. Yet, by doing so, the conservative subjects himself to a barrage of passive aggressive insults of who he is and what he believes. Many believe that liberal entertainers use their medium to communicate how much they hate half of the country.[23] Actress Meryl Streep suggested that without her and her fellow “(Hollywood) outsiders and foreigners. If you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”[24] Because of the constant attacks, conservatives constantly must explain to their family and liberal friends why in fact their religious and political beliefs are not as ridiculous, closed minded, and hateful as they are portrayed by the news and Hollywood elites.

There is another microphone that is not held by the Hollywood and media elite. This microphone is held by educators. From kindergarten to their senior year in high-school, children are told what to believe and then they are tested on it. From there, students go to colleges and universities for at least four more years. Many colleges are bastions of Marxist ideology.[25] The bottom line though is that, as in Hollywood, the microphone of education is owned by the left. A Washington Times article states that liberal professors outnumber conservatives nearly 12 to 1.”[26] Conservatives have long known that the academic world is predominately run by liberals. Recently, there have been several studies that have confirmed what every conservative already claimed to be true: there is liberal bias in the academy. One of these studies revealed that many liberals openly discriminate against hiring conservative professors.[27] In the study’s questionnaire, survey takers were asked if they would not hire a candidate if he was socially and politically conservative. Many of the test takers admitted that they would not hire a candidate if he was a conservative, despite being qualified for the job. They found that the more liberal the person was, the more likely they were to discriminate against conservatives.[28] Why is this so? It is my contention that professors understand that being an educator places one in a very powerful position of influence.[29] Liberals understand that if they do not hire the conservative, his side of the story will not be heard. And, if the other side of the argument is never heard, then the student remains unaware that what his teacher says can be challenged.

The virtual monopoly that the left possesses in the academy again places the conservative thinker in a disadvantaged position. First, the liberal professors tend to expose their students to only the arguments for their conclusions. The books that are assigned are most often written by liberal authors. The conservative student is left to discover for himself the world of conservative thought. Just as with news and entertainment, the conservative student must defend himself from the constant one-sided onslaught that he faces when participating in the educational process.

There is an upside to all of this. Though conservatives are not often given a microphone to be heard, they have sharpened their minds against the assaults that occur daily. Unlike liberals, the conservative must answer for himself and his family as to why mainstream news outlets and the entertainment industry have it wrong when it comes to their beliefs. On the one hand, the liberals hear what they already believe, and it is merely confirmed by their favorite actors, news outlets, and professors.[30] There is rarely any further investigation from there. On the other hand, conservatives are forced to listen liberal professors’ biased lectures and read their one-sided book lists as well as read books that give a defense of conservative principles. After reading both sides of the argument, many conservatives have twice the education as their liberal peers. Not only do they receive a robust defense of liberal ideology from their professors, they also discover a robust defense of their own beliefs. This contrasts with the typical strawman caricatures that most liberal students are armed with.

Yet, after all of this, how can conservatives be heard? After the conservative has truly discovered an answer for why he believes as he does, he then wants to share it. Of course, this happens in one-on-one conversations and perhaps on talk radio. But, what can conservatives do to get the mainstream microphone out of the left’s hands and into their own? Nothing! The left owns the microphone and is not going to give it up. Conservatives need to buy their own microphones. Metaphorically, and literally, this has already happened. Conservatives are very successful in the realm of talk radio. Fox News’ political pundits and talk show hosts are by and large conservative. Many of them are also conservative radio talk show hosts.

Owning the talk show circuit is a great accomplishment indeed. However, these shows and Fox News tend to draw those who already agree with the conservative worldview. Talk radio and Fox News do not draw a general audience; they draw a specific audience—a conservative one. In order for conservatives to report on the strengths and triumphs of conservatism, there needs to be more stations owned by conservative entities. To place the conservative product in scenes with handsome action heroes and beautiful heroines, conservatives need to “buy” the advertising space. That means conservatives need to make more movies for themselves, placing these cherished values on strong charismatic characters. In short, conservatives should invest in the creation of media and entertainment. This is not to say that the conservative message must be up front and explicit. Conservatives should merely take a page out of the liberal play book and tell interesting stories that imply the correctness of conservative values.

The microphone is an expensive one, for sure. Yet, liberals learned long ago that it is both lucrative and socially advantageous to invest in it. Moreover, the investment in such things does not yield overnight success. It is through repetition that the liberals have gotten their points across. As Thomas Smith wrote:

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.[31]

Smith’s point is clear that if there is not consistent awareness of a product’s existence, it is not likely to be purchased. The same can be said about ideas. Liberals have long understood this, and perhaps that is why they own most of the marketing vehicles for ideas. Conservative investors should understand that there is a demand for conservative ideas and borrow from the liberal operating manual, recreating the same medium for advertising ideas. Christian production companies and pro-family channels have explored this. However, these productions, like talk radio, are predominantly explicitly Christian or with an explicitly conservative message. This contrasts with the liberal modus operandi that simply tells a funny, romantic, or action packed story and hides their ideas in plain sight. Hollywood producers are more concerned that their movies are bought than their ideas. It just so happens that the two come as a package deal. Conservatives need to start telling stories and, like the left, place their product in plain sight. And, though their products might not be bought the first time the shopper sees the advertisement, perhaps by the twentieth time he will make the purchase. 

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[1] For an example of this see, Leonardo DiCaprio, “Before the Flood,” speech, Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement, United Nations, 2017. The full speech can be seen at: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/articles/leonardo-dicaprios-un-speech/

[2] At least one actor has taken note of the attention celebrities receive about their political views. See Cavan Sieczkowski, Celebrities Should Shut up about Politics, Says Mark Wahlberg, Huffington Post, 12/02/2016. See, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mark-wahlberg-celebrities-politics_us_5841e0f1e4b017f37fe498c3

[3] I have had the pleasure of getting to know Mark over a few months several years ago while working on the film Windtalkers. He is genuine, friendly, congenial, and educated as an actor. This is not to say that what he has to say is not correct. It is merely to say that I would rather learn acting technique from him than about why Donald Trump’s political views are so bad. Thankfully, when I met him Donald Trump was not running for president yet.

[4] See, Peter W. Stevenson, “This celebrity-packed political as eviscerates Donald Trump”, Washington Post, 09/21/2016.

[5] See, Abram Brown, “Why All the Talk Radio Stars Are Conservative”, Forbes, 07/13/2015.

[6] For a good account of this see, Dan Gainer, “Media: Conservatives ‘Crazy,’ ‘Stupid,’ ‘Racist’ and ‘Evil,’ Media Research Center, http://www.mrc.org/commentary/media-conservatives-crazy-stupid-racist-and-evil. Also see, Charles Krauthammer, “Stupid vs. Evil,” Townhall, 07/26/2002. According to Krauthammer, conservatives see liberals as well-meaning but uninformed, while the liberals see conservatives as just plain evil.

[7] See Lawrence Yee, “Election 2016: Hollywood Reacts to Presidential Results,” Variety, 11/08/2016. Yee cuts and pastes several celebrity tweets that went on as Donald Trump won the presidential election. It is clear that many of them had a very strong reaction. http://variety.com/2016/biz/news/election-2016-results-reactions-hollywood-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-1201913001/

[8] See, Judy Kurtz, “Bette Midler: I’d ‘make a better president … and I’m about clueless!’” The Hill.Com 05?16/17. http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/333641-bette-midler-id-make-a-better-president-and-im-about-clueless

[9] See, Catherine Pearson, “Ashley Judd Explains Why Trump Triggers So Many Sexual Assault Survivors,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ashley-judd-explains-why-trump-triggers-so-many-sexual-assault-survivors_us_587fdb35e4b04b69667e2795

[10] See, Daniel Halper, “Celebrities beg electors to be ‘heroes’ and vote against Trump,” New York Post, December 15, 2016. 

[11] See, Nick Romano, “Scarlett Johansson advocates for Planned Parenthood in passionate Women’s March speech,” Entertainment Weekly, 01/23/2017.

[12] See, Lisa Respers France, “Snoop Dogg ‘shoots’ Trump clown ‘Ron Klump’ in new video,” CNN, 03/15,2017.

[13] See, “Emma Watson on Gender Equality and the Struggles of Activism,” Transcript, Newsweek, 09/30/16.

[14] See, Joseph Curl, “Comedians hate Trump so much they can’t be funny anymore,” The Washington Times, 05/9/2017.

[15] For a good indication of what many on the left truly think, see, Bob Burnett, “The Birth of the Stupid Party,” Huffington Post, 05/25/2016. Here the author says “First came the stupid party. And then came Donald Trump.”

[16] See Jim Rutenberg, “Trump is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism,” New York Times, 05/07/2016.

[17] See, Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor, “Anderson Cooper’s eyeroll is all of us right now,” CNN, 05/10/2017. 

[18] See, Ian Zimmerman, “Product Placement Can Be a Lot More Powerful Than We Realize:

[19] Product placement makes us prefer and identify with brands…we might not like,” Psychology Today03/ 25/2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sold/201303/product-placement-can-be-lot-more-powerful-we-realize.

[20] See, Michael Medved, Hollywood vs. Religion, W Pub Group; VHS edition (1995). “This compelling video exposes the entertainment industry’s ignorance, distrust and fear of organized religionespecially evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, and traditional Judaism. Using clips from well-known movies, Medved reveals what prompts Hollywood’s anti-religious bias.”

[21] A short list of television shows and movies that portray political parties in such a way is: “The American President,” “Wag the Dog,” “Dave,” “Bulworth,” “Bob Roberts,” “Nixon,” “W,” “Selma,” “Fahrenheit 9/11”, etc…

[22] See, Nicole Hemmer, eternally frustrated by “liberal” universities, conservatives now want to tear them down,” Vox. 03/08/2017. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/3/7/14841292/liberal-universities-conservative-faculty-sizzler-pc.

[23] See Kyle Smith, “Celebrity divas insult half of America with their Trump ‘resistance’,” New York Post, 1/07/2017.

[24] See, Meryl Streep, “Here’s the full transcript of Meryl Streep’s powerful Golden Globes speech,” Bazaar, 2017. http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/news/a19828/meryl-street-golden-globes-speech-transcript/. 

[25] It is interesting to note that two major targets of the Red Scare of the 1950’s were Hollywood and university professors. It is also important to note that it is these two groups that tell the history of the Red Scare. The Red Scare according to Hollywood and the history books tells us that Joseph McCarthy led a witch hunt that ruined innocent lives. What these two sources of information do not tell us is that there was good reason to be afraid of communism. They also do not tell us that there really were and still are Marxists among us who would be happy to usher in a communist revolution.

[26] Bradford Richardson, “Liberal professors outnumber conservatives nearly 12 to 1, study finds,” The Washington Times, 10/06/2016.

[27] See, Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers, “Political Diversity in Social and Personality Psychology,” Perspectives on Psychological Science, XX(X) 1–8, 2012. See also, George Yancey, Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education, Waco, Baylor University Press, 2017. In this excellent book: “Yancey finds that politically—and, even more so, religiously—conservative academics are at a distinct disadvantage in our institutions of learning, threatening the free exchange of ideas to which our institutions aspire and leaving many scientific inquiries unexplored.”

[28] Inbar and Lammers, Supra.

[29] See, Diana Hess, “How Do Teachers’ Political Views Influence Teaching about Controversial Issues?” Social Education, 69, 47-48. In this short essay, Hess takes note of the debate over whether teachers should reveal their political beliefs to their students. She quotes one of her colleagues as saying, “The longer I teach the more I understand about how much power teachers have over students. I don’t want to abuse that power—and I don’t want kids to agree with my views just because I am the teacher.”

[30] For an excellent short discussion of this, visit Matthew Woessner, “Liberal University vs. Students,” Prager U., 2014. https://www.prageru.com/courses/political-science/how-liberal-university-hurts-liberal-student.

[31] Thomas Smith, Successful Advertising: Its Secrets Explained, 17th Ed. (Smith’s Press, 1890).

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5 replies to this post
  1. One place to start is humorous and action-packed adventure novels written by conservatives and libertarians like Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia.

  2. While I agree that conservatives have an uphill battle in being influential in the media, I personally believe that conservatives need to avoid being too partisan in the expression of their beliefs. I often wish a William F. Buckley style show would emerge in the present, in which conservatives interacted with liberals in a constructive, thoughtful way. I believe there is actually a large market for more thoughtful content.

    I listen to a lot of podcasts, and there is a lot of creative output that caters to niche markets of thoughtful intellectuals and politics junkies in a way the major news outlets never will. As an example, Dan Carlins’ “Common Sense”, while not inherently conservative, is very respectful of conservative points of view. Thoughtful conservatives, I believe, have an edge in this growing medium, and on other social media as well, because I believe people are increasingly growing tired of partisanship, hence the growing number of people calling themselves “independent.” Conservatives need to exploit these new media. I think they can easily if they create content that, as the author says, isn’t directly political, but at the same time gets people to start thinking about their political presuppositions.

    • Conservatives will never win so long as they allow themselves to be intimidated by the left wing. Being “Nice” or “Civil” doesn’t work, since they only see it as a sign of weakness. Gay “Marriage” is a good example. Conservatives tried to be “Nice”, to only stick to “Facts”, but the left wing in turn called us homophobes and bigots (in other words, moral intimidation), and they won and we lost.

      The lesson is intellectual arguments do not work. Establishing the other side as morally inferior does work.

      • I think conservatives should take the high ground and be civil, but they should not be intimidated either. Frankly, I don’t see much civil discussion anywhere, and thats because the format of most media does not allow it. Discussions of any issue on Fox news or msnbc is a joke. Its simply just a few people trying to yell over each other for a few minutes. Such a format is not conducive to constructive dialogue.

        I see your point about moral intimidation. The unfortunate reality is that without more conservative input its too easy for the media to paint conservatives in a negative light. I think conservatives need to first focus on having a voice, any voice, in media. Only after conservatives have a real presence in media that average people watch can conservatives begin to change the narrative.

  3. Another microphone is the martyr microphone. Liberals showed that it could not be purchased however…Selma was teed up for the liberals even after the Democratic history of racism, but you will never catch wind of the prolifers who endured violence for their cause. Martin Luther king bought a ocean of publicity with his 11 days in jail. But have you ever heard of Linda Gibbons who spent 11 years in jail. have you ever seen video of the pro-life protestor who was literally driven over with a car? No when it comes to buying microphones, conservatives need not apply.
    Furthermore even when buying the Mike, the conservative is ridiculed as the fat cat. Remember how churlish Reagan sounded when he said I paid for this microphone?

    No the most effective microphone is the father who will sacrifice so that the mother can stay home and tel the stories the children need to hear. and then stay Together. Couple by couple by couple by couple. Children may reject it for a season of young adulthood but this living witness will accompany them to their deathbed. Mom and dad matter.

Please leave a thoughtful, civil, and constructive comment: