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Switching Sides — A Speech

After I finally got to see it, sitting in the surprisingly small room in L.A.’s Superior Court, I was mightily depressed. The miscarriage of justice was overwhelming.  I had been a civil rights worker in the South in the sixties and was appalled to see racism turned on its head with obvious DNA evidence disdained.  In this one case at least, the blacks were worse than the whites.  The great lie of political correctness stalked the land and I was just beginning to see it, even though I didn’t want to. Change, as I said, is hard.

But when step 3 happened, 9/11, all the scales dropped from my eyes.  There was no longer any way I could hold them up.

I started writing about this change online — and that is some of the reason Pajamas Media, now called PJ Media, was born.

But let me roll back on that a little bit.

I had written one of my crime novels shortly after 9/11 in which my very liberal detective hero, Moses Wine, was starting to undergo a political change similar to his creator's.  In fact, the opening line of the book was “I knew I was in trouble when I was starting to agree with John Ashcroft…”

I could tell the publisher, a branch of Simon & Schuster, didn’t care for this and wasn’t going to promote the novel.  I had to do something myself.  But the author websites I had seen were static advertisements and scarcely worth anyone’s time.

This was all at the beginning of blogging and I had been reading the work of this Tennessee law professor, Glenn Reynolds, whose pioneering blog Instapundit went live just a few weeks before September 11. I decided, in imitation of Glenn who eventually became my business partner, that I would blog to promote my new novel.

It didn’t work.  The novel sunk like the proverbial stone.  But something else happened.  The blog itself became immensely popular with tens of thousands of readers online every day because I was writing about… political change…. something a lot of people were undergoing in those days, as I mentioned.

Glenn, I, and others started talking to each other about this new form and, being pro-capitalist, decided to do something with all this Internet traffic we were getting,.  That led to the debut of Pajamas Media in the fall of 2005 and of PJTV at the Republican Convention of 2008.

Our company got its name from a slur by CNN executive vice-president Jonathan Klein.  When some of us alleged that a document being flogged by Dan Rather on 60 Minutes as proof that George W. Bush had not completed his National Guard service was a forgery — Klein called us “amateurs in our pajamas.” We thought that would be a nice name — hence, Pajamas Media. Of course, we were right about those National Guard papers.  The exec, like Rather, lost his job.  PJ Media is a thriving online media company with page views roughly equivalent to National Review and Weekly Standard, with many of the same writers like Victor Davis Hanson and Andrew McCarthy.  We have recently added former Congressman Allen West for a new television initiative.

And I have been an accidental CEO for over seven rather amazing, incredibly fast-moving, years. My only regret is in that time I have not done as much screen and novel writing. That’s about to change.  The last election… not that I want to bring up that ugly subject again (my mission being to make you laugh)… has convinced me, if I even needed convincing, that my friend the late Andrew Breitbart was right when he said “politics was downstream of culture.”

Many on the right love to attack Hollywood and make fun of the likes of Sean Penn and Oliver Stone and they deserve it. But this abjuring of the entertainment industry happens at our peril. The rest of the world is watching that entertainment no matter what you say or do, most especially your children.  Rather than boycott Hollywood, take it over – at least part of it.  But do it well and professionally. Otherwise there’s no point.  No one’s interested.

As one who was given by God, or my parents’ DNA or something, the ability to write dialogue and make up stories, I am going to be devoting more of my time to that in the future, putting some of the skills I learned as a liberal to work as a conservative.  Toward that end, my wife and I have written the play The Party Line I referred to earlier and have several other screen projects in the hopper.

One I am doing for a young Russian director may actually get me truly blacklisted this time. (The title of an earlier version of Turning Right at Hollywood & Vine was Blacklisting Myself.) That screenplay posits an America where everybody is working for the government.  I’m writing that one fast.  I don’t want it to be passé before I’ve even finished — and the way things are going, that’s a genuine risk.

And people like me need the support of people like you more than you know. After decades of pervasive liberal culture, we need an audience, financial support, and new means of distribution.  That’s a whole infrastructure, if you think about it. And then there’s educational system and the media to think about…. Whoa…. No one ever said it was going to be easy.  Thank you.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)