CBS Focuses on Hollywood Money, but No Mention of Hollywood Values

In yet another news story cum tale of infatuation over Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, CBS Evening News used Obama's visit to Hollywood on February 20th to showcase the importance of Hollywood money – and influence – in the 2008 presidential election.

Reporter Bill Whitaker cast Obama as a “movie star,” quoting liberal blogger Arianna Huffington as saying Hollywood “had found a leading man.”  Whitaker strongly emphasized Tinseltown's singular adoration of the freshman senator from Illinois, detailing the “top-tier” guests who shelled out $2,300 a pop for the pleasure of dining with the political “box office draw.”

All isn't wine and Brie for Obama, however.  Whitaker reports that key “money people” like Steven Spielberg are “hedging their bets” by throwing fundraisers for both Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Woe is Hollywood.  It seems candidates just go there for the money.  Whitaker predictably included the ubiquitous scene from the movie Jerry McGuire where Tom Cruise yells “Show me the money!”

One California politician quoted in the story bemoaned the fact that politicians have treated California like nothing more than a “political ATM machine” in the past. He went on to say that Hollywood politicos want candidates to come and “talk to us about the issues that are important.” 

Which are …what? We never learn.  Instead we find out that with California planning to move up its primary date to February of next year, the 2008 elections will play differently.  According to Whitaker, California will “overshadow” the smaller states that also have February primaries.

The California primary will cost candidates $20 million, while the national election will cost “10 times that” according to this report.  Whitaker sums it all up by opining, “Hollywood's money is more important than ever” in this election. 

What goes unsaid is that Hollywood money is tied to Hollywood values – whatever they are. 

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer for the Culture and Media Institute (, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.