Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday took on the creator and executive producer of the hit television series "CSI" over the season premiere which featured teen heartthrob Justin Bieber as a "domestic terrorist with Tea Party leanings."
"If that’s not a drive-by hit against the Tea Party movement, then I don’t know what is," Ingraham told her guest Anthony Zuiker (audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):
LAURA INGRAHAM: It seems like this was just classic Brentwood, Malibu elitism, and making these Tea Party people out to be a bunch of yahoo morons who want to burn down the United States to try to take it over. It’s just, to me it seemed like such a facile treatment of the subject.
ANTHONY ZUIKER: Well, the thing is, you know, here’s how it started. It started, we were in the room in June breaking the episode, and we wanted to take, you know, a position of a faction – and, again, Tea Party, I have no idea what all that means, so, forgive me. But, in terms of taking, we call it the Church of Crazyology in the room, meaning when we were breaking the story, we just wanted to have, you know, a faction taking a position that we shouldn’t have driver’s licenses, and why pay taxes, and just take that position.
Great. So, he has “no idea” what the Tea Party means, but he and his crew did an episode about an anti-government group they view as the Church of Crazyology.
INGRAHAM: Anti-government, anti-government.
ZUIKER: Yeah, exactly. Somehow it turned into, once [Justin] Bieber hit, you know, got on and did it, then all this stuff started going across the internet about Tea Party this, and Bieber was a vehicle to have, and I guess it was weird timing, but it just got made to be a bigger deal than what it was. But we had no intention of that at all.
Ingraham then played another clip from the episode wherein a man talks about having burned all of his identification and credit card saying he emancipated himself. “We’re on the same side, sister. Revere our Constitution, but dark forces are afoot.”
Ingraham commented to her guest, “If that’s not a drive-by hit against the Tea Party movement, then I don’t know what is…Do [the writers] believe people who believe in the Constitution are radical crazies?
ZUIKER: No, they think, first of all, the guys who wrote that episode, one’s a surfer that doesn’t care about religion…
INGRAHAM: No kidding.
ZUIKER: …and one doesn’t care about politics.
INGRAHAM: So, they don’t care about religion or politics. Do they know anything about either, because it doesn’t sound like it the way this was written?
Ingraham then really drove home the point:
INGRAHAM: There’s a whole country out there that’s like in a revolt against what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and when they see these episodes, you know, you got the Bieb on, you got the Bieber on, it’s all cool because he’s out there. You have these episodes and they think, “Do you guys ever get out of the bubble of Malibu or Brentwood? I mean, do you ever leave that place? Because in the middle of the country, there’s this place called America, and the people are not liking what’s happening at the hands of this administration. And they’re good people. They’re not crazies, they don’t want to blow up cop funerals, or whatever that episode was about. That’s not who they are. So, I think whether it was intended or not, that’s what people take away from it. And because there’s not equal treatment on both sides of the crazies on the Left, don’t quite get the same treatment as the supposed, you know crazies in all groups obviously. But there’s not, you know, the equal treatment I think oftentimes isn’t there. I don’t mean to filibuster, but go ahead.
ZUIKER: That’s fine, but you know, we took a position in that particular fictional faction to be anti-government, and that’s about as deep as it went. It’s really, it’s really media that likes to look deeper into it make it a bigger deal than what it is and then blame the show for not taking both sides and being politically correct. It’s not our job. Our job is to be, just entertain people. And that’s what we did.
Forgive me, but that seems simplistic and myopic. As Ingraham pointed out, there’s a major political movement in the nation that does possess some anti-government sentiments, although not as extreme as depicted in this episode. If you’re going to do a program featuring an anti-government group, it’s logical to assume viewers are going to perceive that group is the Tea Pary.
To after the fact when folks supportive of that group are offended by your presentation to say that wasn’t your intention and you’re only trying to entertain people seems preposterous. As Ingraham countered:
INGRAHAM: I talk to millions of people every day, and I can tell you that there is a concerted feeling, and I believe a growing feeling, that the entertainment industry you know, really isn’t playing to the heart of the country, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t criticize conservatives. I don’t really have a problem with that. But it just, the criticism again, just going back to that point, always seems to go one way. It’s the crazy, religious zealots, it’s the Catholic priest, it’s the evangelical Christian, it’s the anti-government group, and they all tend to be, for some bizarre reason, the surfer and the guy who doesn’t like politics, only seems to criticize the group that seems to be a lot like the Tea Party movement. I mean, and the country’s going, “They don’t even know me.” I’m just telling you that’s how a lot of folks see this, and, and they respect your talent, and they respect what you’re doing I think, and you have a huge audience, and huge success. But all I would say to you, Anthony, is that there’s a huge country out there, and I think you guys could have double the audience if you did those kinds of shows that don’t insult I think the intelligence of and the, and the movement known as the America movement or the Tea Party movement, whatever you want to call it. I think you could even be bigger.
As a fan of this series, I agree.
Readers should note the respectful way Ingraham treated her guest. There wasn't any shouting, or vitriolic insults. Just a nice, professional exchange of ideas involving a difference of opinion.
Nicely done, Laura. Brava!