It is television, not just the people who make it, which has a Left-wing bias

It is television, not just the people who make it, which has a Left-wing bias

Personally I can spot Left-wing bias on the side of a cereal packet, but I doff my cap to Ben Shapiro, the US conservative who has written a new book outlining the secret Left-wing messages that have been “pumped out” by television programmes such as Friends, Sesame Street and Happy Days. According to this paper:

Conservative columnist and author Ben Shapiro accused television executives and writers of pushing a liberal agenda in several high profile American television entertainment shows.

His book “Primetime Propaganda” will show how the “most powerful medium of mass communication in human history became a vehicle for spreading the radical agenda of the left side of the political spectrum,” according to the publishers HarperCollins.

Shapiro interviewed dozens of leading industry figures, some of whom admitted to including a left wing bias in their shows. The results showed “unrepentant abuses of the Hollywood entertainment industry” and how movers and shakers in the television world tried to “shape America in their own leftist image”.

One of the founders of Sesame Street told him that the show had sought to address how conflict could be resolved peacefully after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Of course he’s right, almost to the point of making a truism. The entertainment industry, and the arts in general, are intrinsically Left-wing; not only are they made by and aimed at a younger demographic than the population at large, but by its very nature the artistic mind – childlike, inquisitive – tends to be liberal. As a rule the better an actor is, the more Left-wing; compare, say, Pete Postlethwaite with Ronald Reagan.

But it’s also the case that television is itself Left-wing. The very medium makes it easier to present liberal messages, which tend to revolve around more obvious and simple cases of right and wrong, and which tend to trigger positive emotional responses in the audience. So, for example, it’s easier to present, whether it’s a kid’s programme with a talking bird or a 30-minute sit-com, the idea that conflict can be resolved peacefully. It’s far harder to present the argument that sometimes it cannot, that not all grievances are legitimate and that just because people hate you, it doesn’t mean you deserved it.

It’s easier to present a situation – as television often does – where lone mothers overcome stigma and heroically win against the odds (many, many do); it’s harder to illustrate via television why social stigmas against lone parenthood are beneficial to society. And on a range of issues, from immigration to taxes to defence, it is just far more difficult to present a conservative argument using this medium, because the whole point of TV is to make us feel good. This is not necessarily a positive thing; to take an extreme example, how hard do you think it would have been for Winston Churchill (himself banned from the BBC in the late 1930s) to present his argument that the Nazis could not be reasoned with on television? And how easy would it have been to present the argument that the Germans, like us, just want peace?

This is not the same with previous mediums. British theatre might make the BBC look like Fox News, but it wasn’t always so, as surviving works from Euripides to Shakespeare demonstrate; the same goes for literature, and all other art forms going back to the birth of western civilisation and The Iliad (not a liberal sentiment throughout).

But there may also be a cultural shift which goes beyond the medium; since becoming a father I have noticed – and I’m sure this is not impending lunacy on my part – that children’s books, when they have an underlying message, basically have a left-liberal one, most often about the environment. And yet almost all fairy tales have a deeply conservative message: think about Red Riding Hood, a lesson to pubescent girls that the world is a dangerous place full of dishonest and aggressive men; or the Emperor’s New Clothes, a warning against innovation that explains an aspect of human nature so well that it has become the most overused cliché in political discourse. Meanwhile The Ant and the Grasshopper, like all of Aesop’s Fables, has a very conservative message: save or starve.

It may be that the media has become Left-wing; but perhaps it is just the case that those stories which say something about human nature, which tend to be conservative, last the test of time.

This article was published at Telegraph Blogs

What do you think?