Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV is a 2011 book by political commentator Ben Shapiro. In it he argues that producers, executives and writers in the entertainment industry are using television to promote a socialist political agenda.
As one part of the evidence, Shapiro presents statements from taped interviews made by celebrities and TV show creators from Hollywood whom he interviewed for the book. The book include quotes from, amongst others, the co-creator of Friends, Marta Kauffman, and the creator of Soap and Golden Girls, Susan Harris. Another argument is that conservatives are shunned in the industry. For example, Vin Di Bona, a producer responsible for a large number of hit television shows, agreed during an interview with Shapiro that Hollywood promotes a liberal political agenda, commenting, "I'm happy about it, actually." Di Bona also said that MacGyver, the cult hit show on which he was a producer, promoted an anti-gun movement position, as the character of MacGyver does not use a gun, but rather his own intelligence. People involved with television shows M*A*S*H and Happy Days told Shapiro that the series had pacifistic and anti-Vietnam War agendas. Another example is the television show Sesame Street which is accused of deliberately spreading left-wing propaganda to children.
Producer Leonard Goldberg stated to Shapiro that in the industry liberalism is "100 percent dominant, and anyone who denies it is kidding, or not telling the truth," and when Shapiro asked if politics are a barrier to entry replied, "Absolutely."
Producer and director Nicholas Meyer replied "Well, I hope so," when asked if conservatives are discriminated against, and stated regarding the 1983 made-for-TV film The Day After that, "My private, grandiose notion was that this movie would unseat Ronald Reagan when he ran for re-election."
Executive Fred Silverman stated regarding TV comedy nowadays that "...there’s only one perspective, and it’s a very progressive perspective. And if you want the other perspective... well it's just not there right now."
Shapiro states that he was "...shocked by the openness of the Hollywood crowd when it came to admitting anti-conservative discrimination inside the industry". He argues that nepotism in Hollywood rarely is familial, but rather is ideological by friends hiring friends with the same ideological views: "The same people who talk about tolerance and diversity have no tolerance for ideological diversity." He also states: "...the liberal content we see on primetime television and in daytime soaps is typically hidden in plot and character...I go through probably 100 shows in detail in Primetime Propaganda – and virtually all of them are messaged, either blatantly or subtly."
Portions of some of the interviews which were released onto the internet to promote the book, particularly the Di Bona interview, caused the director and producer Lionel Chetwynd to resign from the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors. In an open letter, he wrote about the reaction of other members of the caucus to Republican Party politicians: "In preparing his book, Mr. Shapiro interviewed a large number of our Hollywood notables on the subject of diversity -- not the sacrosanct melange of race, religion, gender orientation and the like, but a more challenging diversity: that of opinion and policy. The vast majority felt quite comfortable endorsing discrimination against those whose political philosophy was not rooted in the reflexive Leftism of Hollywood," and "I knew most of my fellow members looked upon the political positions of these people as distasteful; what I now understand is the disgust was not for their views, but for their very person".
Another argument by Shapiro is that Hollywood has overemphasized the importance of the 18-49 market for advertisers. Initially, as admitted by executives during the taped interviews, this view was promoted by ABC in the late 1960s since the network had poor ratings and needed to increase advertising revenue in some way.
Shapiro argues that the situation may change quickly in future since new technologies, such content delivered by the Internet, may dramatically change the media landscape.
Shapiro explained how he was able to interview numerous celebrities for the book: "I...told them I was profiling the biggest names in Hollywood over the last 50 years...They must have assumed that with a name like Shapiro and a Harvard Law credential, there was no need to Google; I would have to be a leftist. When I spoke with them, I used certain liberal code words – 'social justice,' 'tolerance,' 'diversity.' And they spoke freely with me, with permission to tape." Vin Di Bona stood by the statements quoted from his interview but added that the material "was obtained in a duplicitous manner" accusing Shapiro of misrepresenting the nature of his book prior to interview. Marta Kauffman said that "The idea that we are pushing an agenda is nonsense," adding that "...the dangerous thing about the book is it implies we don't want a dialogue." Another of the interviewees, George Schlatter, rejected suggestions that Hollywood is conspiring to exclude the conservative perspective and accused the right wing of being "guilty of everything they accuse the left wing of."
Reviewing the book and interviewing Shapiro, Los Angeles Times reporter Patrick Goldstein questioned Shapiro citing The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Simpsons as examples, as Goldstein argued those shows have ..."gone over like gangbusters with middle America."
- Paul Bond (June 2, 2011). "TV executives confirm Hollywood's liberal agenda". Reuters. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Guy Adams (May 29, 2011). "Sesame Street's pinko puppets brainwash our kids". London: The Independent. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- Fagen, Cynthia R. (2011-05-31). "Elmo's really a pinko". New York Post. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
- Paul Bond, TV Executives Admit in Taped Interviews That Hollywood Pushes a Liberal Agenda (Exclusive Video), 6/1/2011, The Hollywood Reporter, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tv-executives-admit-taped-interviews-193116
- Jamie Glazov (May 31, 2011). "Primetime Propaganda Interview with Ben Shapiro". Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- Ted Johnson (June 6, 2011). "TV tome: Left has heft". Variety. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Switching TV to the Right, June 15, 2011, National Review Online, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/269181/switching-tv-right-interview?pg=1
- Carol A. Taber, Primetime Propaganda, June 2, 2011, American Thinker, http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/06/primetime_propaganda.html
- Goldstein, Patrick (June 13, 2011). "'Propaganda' is hard to prove". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011.