It’s a common mistake to believe Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunts included the Hollywood blacklists. These were actually the doing of the House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC, a totally distinct body that often gets conflated with McCarthy’s own activities.
Perhaps that’s why Hollywood celebrities don’t seem to have learned the right lessons from McCarthy’s witch hunt. Instead, they seem to have learned his tactics.
Eric McCormack, as you may have forgotten, was the titular Will Truman in the sitcom “Will & Grace.” He continues to work, albeit probably not in anything you’ve watched.
However, he wants you to know that he’s not going to work with anyone who attends a California fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a Beverly Hills fundraiser for the president is going to take place Sept. 17, during the week of the Emmys. As might be expected, given the location, entrance will cost a pretty hefty fee.
“The evening event is hosted by Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, RNC co-chairman Tommy Hicks Jr., campaign manager Brad Parscale and Trump Victory finance chairman Todd Ricketts,” the Thursday report stated.
“It’s a pricey event, too, with tickets starting at $1,000 and going to $100,000 per couple (for a photo opportunity and VIP reception). No address has been given for the event.”
The report also quoted Trump on Hollywood: “Hollywood is really terrible,” Trump said Aug. 9. “You talk about ‘racist.’ Hollywood is racist. What they’re doing, with the kind of movies they’re putting out, it’s actually very dangerous for our country. What Hollywood is doing is a tremendous disservice to our country.”
The account said this was taken from when Trump “responded to a question about the influence his rhetoric had on America’s gun violence epidemic in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.”
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The quote actually referenced the since-delayed horror movie “The Hunt,” a sort of modernization of “The Most Dangerous Game” in which “MAGA types” are hunted down by rich liberals.
McCormack wanted a follow-up to THR’s report about the fundraiser. In a Twitter post, he insisted the newspaper name names.
— Eric McCormack (@EricMcCormack) August 30, 2019
“Hey, @THR, kindly report on everyone attending this event, so the rest of us can be clear about who we don’t wanna work with,” McCormack tweeted on Friday. “Thx.”
Lo and behold, Grace was willing to back him up.
Please print a list of all attendees please. The public has a right to know. https://t.co/YV4UoxrPHI
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) August 31, 2019
“The public has a right to know.” Why, pray tell? Well, because the attendees can be blacklisted, of course.
McCormack’s tweet got more attention, however, and not in a good way; former “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington went after him:
— Isaiah Washington (@IWashington) August 30, 2019
“Hey @jack is this tweet openly threatening to ‘blacklist’ American Citizens in Hollywood okay for the good of society? Just asking for a friend,” Washington wrote, tagging Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the process.
Maeve Quinlan, formerly of soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” also went after McCormack for his suggestion.
How wonderfully fascist of you @EricMcCormack ! Yes, how dare anyone in a FREE COUNTRY actually be FREE to support someone that you don’t or have an opinion that differs from yours. Anyone that doesn’t get in line with your opinion should absolutely be blacklisted from work. 🤦♀️
— Maeve Quinlan (@maevequinlan) August 31, 2019
Lawyer Ron Coleman, meanwhile, invoked the specter of McCarthy:
— Ron Coleman (@RonColeman) August 30, 2019
There were also plenty of other responses from accounts without the blue checkmark. Some were supportive of McCormack, but the majority seemed to be sentiments like these:
I strongly dislike Trump, however, everyone has a right to earn a living, everyone has protected characteristics. We all must protect our freedom to choose, even if it is the wrong choice.
— Kelly Ablethorpe (@KellyAblethorpe) August 30, 2019
In other words, this was a spectacular backfire.
Whether this actually affects anyone is an interesting question. My guess is there isn’t a whole lot of overlap in the Venn diagram between those who would pay to attend a Beverly Hills fundraiser for President Trump and people who work in the entertainment industry.
Even if you are a conservative in Hollywood, letting anyone in on that fact probably isn’t the best idea. In fact, The Hollywood Reporter itself has already done work on the fact that Tinseltown’s network of conservatives stays well underground.
A 2015 report on which openly conservative actors were supporting whom in the GOP primary noted that for the most part, “a stealth GOP operates outside the industry spotlight.”
Also, let’s assume one of Hollywood’s few open conservatives goes to this event. Eric McCormack decides he isn’t going to work with them. Same with Deborah Messing. And … nothing happens. The titular “Will & Grace” are best and only known for playing Will and Grace.
In fact, Trump himself on Sunday morning noted that Messing herself was actually nice to him back when it served her purposes.
I have not forgotten that when it was announced that I was going to do The Apprentice, and when it then became a big hit, helping NBC’s failed lineup greatly, @DebraMessing came up to me at an Upfront & profusely thanked me, even calling me “Sir.” How times have changed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2019
I remember Messing having another series called “The Starter Wife,” one that clearly worked out well because all I remember about it is that it was on basic cable and not for long.
Who this does end up affecting, however, will likely be people far outside of the milieu of Beverly Hills or Hollywood. Liberals like to talk about “normalization” a lot. Well, it works both ways: What McCormack and Messing are normalizing is naming and shaming people simply for mainstream political beliefs — specifically, support for the current president.
Consider the recent kerfuffle surrounding Texas Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro, brother of and campaign manager for Democratic presidential contender Julían Castro.
Joaquin decided it would be a grand idea to post the names of San Antonio, Texas, residents who had donated the maximum to President Trump’s re-election bid, leading to a campaign of harassment against the individuals and businesses he mentioned.
Rep. Castro tried to defend the decision to point and shame by noting that the information was publicly available through the Federal Election Commission. Yes, that’s true, but that’s not what Castro was doing by posting those names on social media.
He was instilling fear in people for expressing their political beliefs. And they weren’t expressing support for the overthrow of the United States government or support for some fringe politician like a David Duke. They’d merely donated to the sitting president of the United States.
McCormack and Messing are normalizing that fear. More than half a century after HUAC targeted Hollywood, Hollywood is apparently having its revenge by employing the same tactics liberals would all claim to abhor.
Even though Sen. McCarthy didn’t go after Tinseltown, one suspects he would approve of Will and Grace’s methods, if perhaps not their targets.
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