- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008


Last Monday on these pages, my article “Blacklist Then and Now” coincidentally appeared the same day as an op-ed penned by screen legend Jon Voight.

Since his Oscar-winning turn in the 1978 antiwar film “Coming Home,” the venerable actor has come to the conclusion that he and many in the “so-called peace movement” were manipulated by Marxist propaganda.

“The radicals of that era were successful in giving the communists power to bring forth the killing fields and slaughter 2.5 million people in Cambodia and South Vietnam. Did they stop the war, or did they bring the war to those innocent people? In the end, they turned their backs on all the horror and suffering they helped create and walked away,” he wrote in an article titled “My Concerns for America.”

Mr. Voight is not the first to connect these dots. But he is certainly the biggest Hollywood star associated with the anti-Vietnam War movement to do so.

In his newfound voice, Mr. Voight also boldly warns of the consequences of electing the current antiwar candidate: “If, God forbid, we live to see [Barack] Obama president, we will live through a socialist era that America has not seen before, and our country will be weakened in every way.”

It was the type of commentary that escapes scrutiny when submitted on the hour by left-wing celebrities at the exclusionary and often vitriolic Huffington Post (a site that I - gulp! - co-created). But since these ideas came from the rarest of pontificators - an open Hollywood conservative and an apostate liberal - Mr. Voight was swiftly attacked by establishment entertainment journalists expertly wielding the tools of the new McCarthyism.

The Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and People magazine alum Jeffrey Wells led the charge. At his influential Web site Hollywood-Elsewhere.com, Mr. Wells wrote, “If I were a producer and I had to make a casting decision about hiring Voight or some older actor who hadn’t [ticked] me off with an idiotic Washington Times op-ed piece, I might very well say to myself, ‘Voight? Let him eat cake.’ ”

In the hopes of exacting blood, Mr. Wells went well below the belt by attacking Mr. Voight’s parenting skills. And for what? Because one citizen expressed his contrarian political opinion in a town that doesn’t embrace free speech anymore.

“I finally get what Angelina Jolie has been on about all these years. (I think.) Most people reading the Voight piece will say, ‘[OK], the Times gave him the rope, and he hung himself.’ But you’d think an archconservative working in an overwhelmingly liberal town would think about restraining himself for expediency’s sake, if nothing else,” Mr. Wells wrote.

Talk about giving one’s self the rope.

Peter Bart, the powerful 76-year-old editor-in-chief of Variety, the industry’s daily bible, and co-host of AMC’s “Shootout,” didn’t challenge Mr. Voight on the facts, but classlessly recounted in his slightly trafficked blog a private conversation that allegedly occurred nearly 40 years ago:

“As a young production executive at the studio, I was trying to push ‘Love Story’ forward and joined colleagues in trying to interest Voight in the part. However, the more we prodded, the more reluctant he became. He finally blurted: ‘The character in this movie is a Harvard student. He’s bright. He reads books. I could never be believable as that smart young guy.’

Mr. Bart - desperately attempting to be as cruel as possible - wrote, “Reading Voight’s op-ed piece these many years later, I realize how right he was.”

His message to Mr. Voight: You’re dead. Hollywood never forgets.

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