Streep, Clooney Compare Right Wing to Nazis, Salem Witch Burners

The 40th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone interviewed several top actors on their political views. Meryl Streep and George Clooney each disparaged conservatives in different ways. Streep compared the Bush administration to the Nazis, and Clooney compared conservatives to the Salem witch burners. In line with Streep's current role in the flop Lions for Lambs, Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers asked about playing the part of "the hated, compromised media," and she replied:

The dilemma of the journalist is everybody’s dilemma. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights protected the Fourth Estate so vehemently because we rely on these voices. And if we don’t have them, then God bless Sean Penn for speaking up. God bless the people who put themselves on the line to be fodder for Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s next raise. We all have to be citizens first, and then whatever our job is.

The Nazi comparison came when Travers asked: How to do things change for the better?

Change is precipitated by outside events, big cataclysms like 9/11 and Katrina, that cause the public to wipe the gunk out of its eyes. One thing that really bothers me is when the media cedes its responsibility. When the government said, ‘you can’t photograph coffins coming home from Iraq,’ that was a clear abrogation of the right to a free press. And the press rolled over. Look at how the German people have lived, for all these years, with a legacy of "How could you let that happen?" We might be living with that kind of legacy in the next fifty years.

Streep also said feminine voices were superior: "The nurturance of what we have, as opposed to conquering the new territory and making them submit." When asked how we should get politically engaged, she hit that point again: "Nobody wants to hear me give a political speech. But I can align by sensibility and my heart, my voice, and all my stamina with [Marxist playwright] Bertolt Brecht and do Mother Courage onstage and feel that it’s getting out there, that idea of ‘wars go on, and who suffers over and over again?’ It’s the women and children. That’s the whole story. It’s a story worth telling."

Travers also interviewed Clooney, who unspooled the usual frustrating notion that liberalism is equal to open-mindedness:

Personally, I want a campaign to stop making "liberal" a bad word. Look it up in the dictionary and you’re basically saying, "I’m willing to hear everybody’s point of view." It makes us lousy debaters, but I can’t apologize for being a liberal.

And conservatives? They've always been wrong:

Go through the history of time. During the Salem witch hunt, the liberals thought there was no such thing as witches, and the conservative view was "They’re witches and they all have to die." I don’t argue with conservatives over morality. I don’t preach morality, certainly, but I won’t be told that liberal is immoral.

Clooney said if he ran for president, it would be on the platform of "yeah, I did it," – did women, did drugs, and "Now, let’s talk about the issues." He added: "Anybody who’s running who’s gone through the Sixties and didn’t smoke a joint, I don’t want you for president. You haven’t lived at all. What the f–k’s wrong with you?"

Clooney was encouraged by the notion that Rudy Giuliani would draw support from the religious right, and then somehow draws a straight line from Jesus to Hamas:

That tells you the rest of the country is a little bit moved away from the idea of this "Jesus is right about everything" kind of mood. I’m not knocking religion, but there was a reason we left England: Church and state have to be separate. I love that we fought to get all these democracies in place, and they vote in theocracies, including Palestine. It worked out really well, now that we’ve got religious leaders everywhere.

Clooney doesn't seem to realize that many the people who came over from England were religious people looking for freedom to worship God in their own way, not set up Haight-Ashbury.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis