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In an effort to promote a speech he made last week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of People for the American Way, founder Norman Lear posted a transcript and audio of the occasion online. His wish for publicity was granted Wednesday when talk-radio hosts and conservative bloggers ripped into the TV legend for alleged hypocrisy, bigotry and a whole lot of hostility toward his political opposites.
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The 20-minute speech, delivered Dec. 5 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, went largely unnoticed when posted at the Huffington Post on Tuesday, but two minutes was sliced out by the Media Research Center and the audio was widely circulated across the Internet.
“I want to suggest we lefties start laying claim to what we see as ‘sacred’ and serve it up proudly to the Religious Right – to the James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove hate-mongers, sheathed in sanctity,” said the TV legend who created All in the Family, One Day at a Time and Sanford and Son.
“Over the past several decades, the power-grabbing right has built a powerful infrastructure of radio and TV networks. They’ve built think-tanks, colleges and law schools,” Lear complained.
“And now, as frightening as it is, where do we find that holier-than-thou sanctity most apparent in politics today? Among the seven candidates attempting to prove in every debate we have seen that they are the right kind of Christian to be the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.”
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On hand for the event was 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin — prior to being kicked off his American Airlines flight for playing Words With Friends — where he was given an award. JJ Abrams, Tracey Edmonds, will.i.am, Rob Reiner, Jane Lynch and California Governor Jerry Brown were among the attendees.
“When you hear Lear speak this way,” wrote Noel Sheppard of the MRC, a right-wing watchdog group, “you have to seriously wonder whether he was the model for Rob Reiner’s character on the hit series All in the Family — aka Meathead.”
On Wednesday, nationally syndicated talk-radio host Dennis Prager played the clip and interrupted himself several times to refute the claims made by Lear. Then he summed up with:
“I am very saddened when my fellow Jews adopt values that I think are antithetical to Judaism and to the Judeo-Christian value system that I so uphold. He is angry at Christians, and when there are right-wing Christians, it is the combination of the two things he is most afraid of, the right and Christianity. So when you put them together, they really frighten a man like Norman Lear.”
“By the way. This will end. This is a generational thing,” Prager said. “More and more Jews realize that their best friends in the United States are Christians.”
STORY: Norman Lear Celebrates 30 Years of People for the American Way
Likewise, KABC host Larry Elder picked apart Lear’s comments one by one, interrupting the audio periodically to interject.
“This, again, is the open-minded, sensitive, caring, compassionate Democratic party who simply try to reach out and find common ground,” Elder said before launching into the Lear audio.
“What does the left have?” Elder asks after hearing Lear deride a powerful right-wing infrastructure. “They have ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNB-Hee-Haw, they have virtually every major newspaper in the country — almost every big-city newspaper is left wing, at least it’s editorial page — and they’ve got Hollywood.”
Audio is below. Lear discussion begins at 2:15 mark.
And of Lear’s claim of conservatives being “holier than thou,” Elder said: “Have you ever been at a party with a bunch of left-wing people and hearing them talk about politics? You wanna talk about arrogance? You wanna talk about in-your-face? Complete and total lack of respect for the other side’s point of view. Unbelievable.”
Lear declined comment.
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