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Looking for Mr. Right | The Nation

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Looking for Mr. Right

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David Corn
David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. Until 2007, he was Washington editor of The Nation. He has written...

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Not all of Horowitz's compatriots feel besieged by an oppressive leftism haunting Hollywood. "People have been asking me for thirty-five years if I was losing jobs because of my conservative politics," says Charlton Heston. "I've never felt that was the case." Neither does Rob Long, a successful, 34-year-old sitcom writer and club member. "It's never been tough for me," he remarks. "The default position in this town is liberal. But they don't run you out of town if you're not. The worst I've gotten for being conservative is bemused indifference. That's not so bad." Long notes that he has never heard of anyone not being hired in Hollywood because of politics. "I've read many film scripts from conservative writers. They're god-awful and deserve not to go anywhere. It's much easier, though, to lull yourself to sleep at night saying I'm not being hired because of my politics." On the set of Cheers, Long worked happily with two of the town's most notable lefties: Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson: "They were interested in talking issues with me. They were incredibly respectful and thoughtful."

Actor Kurt Russell, a registered Libertarian often misidentified as a conservative or a Republican, says that a few times he has been told that someone in the industry did not want to work with him because of his presumed politics. "I was surprised it would make any difference," he comments. "But I don't pay much attention to it. The bottom line here is the color green. And, in the end, they will find a way to shut their ears or eyes to make money in this town, and I'm very much for that." Edgar Scherick, a veteran miniseries producer and a Wednesday Morning Club steering committee member, recalls that in his decades-long career, he has seen "one or two occasions when a writer was deemed too conservative to get a job, but they got it because I stood up and said, it's ridiculous." And Chetwynd, who frets about liberal groupthink in Hollywood, acknowledges that his own career has not been hindered by anticonservative bias: "My political views are tolerated because I'm a good salesman and I do my job well."

Although Horowitz insists political discrimination is rampant and ideological intolerance rules, he maintains that his Hollywood campaign strives for no more than "to restore dialogue in the entertainment community. We've established a civil place." He wants to be a "bridge-builder" who engineers "honest debate."

This is the kinder, gentler David Horowitz, an author and jouster otherwise known as a fierce ideological warrior. Last year, after Steve Wasserman, editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, sliced in half a brief commentary Horowitz had written on The Communist Manifesto for a forum in the review, Horowitz sent a scorching letter to the publisher asserting that "Wasserman has an agenda in defending Marx." (Months earlier, Horowitz had praised Wasserman as a "fair-minded" fellow who had "improved" the book section.) At a recent talk at Harvard, Horowitz declared, "Inside every Leftist lurks a totalitarian" (not much bridge-building there). He assailed author/academic Cornel West as "an empty intellectual suit, he's not that smart, and he got his place because of the scramble for black faces in the university." Horowitz recently bought an ad in The New Republic that announced he intends to out The Left. The ad claims The Left is absent from "the radar screen of American politics." Thus, under the headline "Who is Left?" he produced a j'accuse list pronouncing Hillary Rodham Clinton, Marion Wright Eddman [sic; he meant Edelman], Sydney [sic] Blumenthal and–what a shock!–Senators Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy as national figures of The Left. He "exposed" the causes of The Left: prison reform, affirmative action, a living wage. He also ID'd Senator Robert Torricelli, a devoted anti-Castroite, as a leftist. "We think," the ad shouted, "it is time to…identify the political left."

Is such simplistic pink-sheeting the work of a man who yearns merely for civil and honest exchange? "I have various incarnations," Horowitz explains. "On campuses, I'm confrontational. In Hollywood, I'm not confrontational at all. I defend this town. Oliver Stone has been to my events. I have participated in Alec Baldwin's events."

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