There wasn’t a lot of love lost between conservatives and the entertainment industry, prior to the 2016 election. But it goes without saying that Donald Trump’s victory only deepened the wedge between Hollywood elites and the political right.
Christian Toto (a contributor to this website), has documented much of Tinseltown’s public disdain for our president and his supporters on his website, Hollywood in Toto. Recent stories include director James Gunn (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame) using Holocaust Memorial Day to compare Trump to Hitler, and the Big Sick’s Zoe Kazan calling Trump and the GOP “murderers.” As shocking as these statements are, the industry gives us dozens of examples of this level of hate just about every week.
And judging by the outcry on social media and the steady decline in viewership for entertainment award-shows (where anti-Trump sentiment is hot and heavy), the feeling from fans of our president is mutual.
But there is one area in which these two groups have found some common ground. They’re engaged in a joint crusade to assure that a specific individual remains inorganically relevant, and a perpetual hot topic, in our national discourse.
I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.
If someone would have told me the day after the election that Hillary Clinton would still be making headlines over a year after Trump’s inauguration, I wouldn’t have believed it. But heavy-hitters from both sides of the political aisle seem to need for this to be true, and thus it has become our reality.
We saw the latest example of the entertainment industry’s Hillary fixation on Sunday night’s Grammys. In a sketch involving host James Corden, Clinton (along with a number of musical artists) was shown reading an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s controversial book on the Trump White House, Fire and Fury. Unsurprisingly, the celebrities in attendance loved the bit, wildly cheering and applauding.
Righties weren’t nearly as amused, including United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
In a rare offering of pop-culture commentary, Haley tweeted, “I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it. Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it.”
For Haley, the bit was personal. In an effort to soak every last sale out of his highly contested (and much discredited) book, Michael Wolff has recently been peddling the completely baseless rumor that Haley had had an extramarital affair with President Trump, in order to get her position inside the administration.
Many on the left complained that Haley’s tweet was unprofessional, but NBC’s Megyn Kelly had the ambassador’s back.
“If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times,” said Kelly on her show the next day. “Powerful women get dismissed as nuts or sluts. And what [Michael Wolff] said about her was a sexist smear, and there’s a question about whether we should have had people including Hillary Clinton reading from that book.”
Kelly brings up a good point. Ever since the Harvey Weinstein story broke, the entertainment industry has been embattled by a tsunami of sexual misconduct allegations and provable offenses. This cultural reckoning became known as the #MeToo movement, and it was celebrated (even if disingenuously) at the Golden Globes less than a month ago.
Yet, just weeks later, the same industry chose to air a cutesy clip of Hillary Clinton (a longtime Weinstein ally who slammed victims of her own husband’s sexual misconduct) reading from a book whose author is currently slandering a prominent female leader with phony sex allegations. And the audience loved it.
It’s almost as if liberal entertainers aren’t a particularly self-aware crowd.
But while the political right can justifiably take on the entertainment industry for how they’ve chosen to use Clinton, they can’t exactly blame them for keeping her relevant. Republicans, the pro-Trump media, and our president himself have invested far more time and effort into assuring that Hillary doesn’t fade from our national consciousness.
As president, Donald Trump has brought up Clinton numerous times in his public addresses and interviews, and has tweeted about her over 70 times just since being sworn into office. Media-conservatives on television, radio, and the Internet have gone much further, spending countless hours obsessing over anything and everything related to the former Democratic nominee.
Sean Hannity in particular has made Clinton a focus of nearly every episode of his Fox News show, whether it be on her Russian connections, past scandals, potential future scandals, past investigations, potential future investigations, what she’s wearing, what she’s saying, who she’s spending time with, or who she’s appeared in pictures with. Hannity event spent several weeks last year trying to tie Clinton to the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich (until Rich’s family finally convinced him to stop politicizing their loved one’s death).
And not to be outdone, Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro recently brought cameras with her to a forest and neighborhood in Chappaqua, New York to “search” for Hillary Clinton. The segment for Pirro’s weekend show included her yelling at local shop-owners, screaming Hillary’s name in the woods, and interviewing a rabbit (no, I’m not joking).
All that was missing was an Elmer Fudd hat.
Sadly, being that Hannity’s and Pirro’s shows are ratings juggernauts for their network, there’s clearly an audience for this garbage. After all, if pro-Trumpers didn’t want Hillary Clinton, they wouldn’t be getting so much of her.
Now, none of this is to say that there aren’t legitimate reasons for Hillary to be in the news from time to time. She did a book tour last year, during which she made some pretty provocative statements. Also, there was a New York Times report last week that Hillary (in 2008) had shielded one of her advisers from a sexual harassment charge. Those are legitimate news items.
However, the rest of this stuff — whether it be from Hollywood elites or media-conservatives — is just entertainment. Hillary Clinton should no longer be a part of our mainstream political culture, but these two groups — for very different reasons — are hellbent on keeping her around.
For the sake of our nation’s brain-cells, I would implore both sides to let her drift off into the sunset. But that would require some grace and maturity, so I’m not counting on it anytime soon.