Bush Attacks Hollywood’s ‘Sick’ Anti-Police Themes
President Bush on Monday repeatedly condemned the entertainment industry for what he labeled its “sick” practice of producing films, television programs and music that glorify cop-killing.
Issuing a stern challenge to Hollywood, Bush told law officers here that he felt a “moral obligation” to speak out against certain rap songs and other “filth” that “rejoice in standing up against law enforcement.”
“It is wrong for any company--I don’t care how noble the name of the company--to issue records that approve of killing a law enforcement officer,” Bush said earlier in the day at opening ceremonies for a Drug Enforcement Administration office in New York City.
Bush’s unforgiving words added his voice to a campaign that his vice president had until now waged alone. Though Bush chose not to criticize any artist or studio by name, his remarks were likely to give new force to protests aimed at Time-Warner for its role in distributing a controversial new album by the rap artist Ice-T.
Among the songs on the recording is “Cop Killer,” a tune that Vice President Dan Quayle singled out last week in questioning whether Time-Warner should accept profits from a record with such a destructive message.
Quayle continued his attacks Monday at a fund-raiser in Middletown, Ohio. “I am outraged at the fact that Time-Warner, a major corporation, is making money off a record called ‘Cop Killer’ that suggests it is OK to kill cops,” he said.
Bush stopped well short of joining his running mate in declaring political war on the “cultural elite"--as Quayle did recently. Instead, Bush assured police officers in Michigan that he was speaking from the heart, not out of any political motivation, and said that he opposes censorship. But, he said, “good taste” ought to prevail.
His pointed attack on Hollywood served as a potent focus for Bush’s renewed efforts to characterize himself as a bulwark against unidentified others who might hold a less wholesome vision of the nation’s future.
Using law officers as the backdrop for that mission, Bush also spoke out Monday against those who would raise “the white flag of surrender against the white scourge of cocaine” or “soft-pedal the need to be hard on crime.” At the new DEA headquarters in New York, he portrayed the anti-drug cause as a new American crusade.
He nodded approvingly as the former American ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Charles Gargano, introduced him at a New York fund raiser. Gargano asked darkly of the coming election: “Which would be worse for America? What we know? Or what we don’t know?”
Bush himself continued to cloak his criticism of his political rivals. But he too described the issues at stake in the presidential race in extraordinarily stark terms.
Using words like integrity and honor to differentiate himself from his two challengers--Democrat Bill Clinton and independent Ross Perot--Bush also resorted to schoolyard terms to threaten what was still to come. “Let them see if they can take the heat,” he told the New York fund-raising audience, “because I am going to dish it out.”
With his sharp criticism of the entertainment industry, Bush ventured for the first time into terrain that his advisers regard as fertile for a campaign that will emphasize family values. He complained broadly about “the content of some of the filth and some of the portrayals that go into the families, into the living rooms through the television.”
But he was careful to aim his most specific attacks only at the most extreme forms of anti-Establishment expression.
At the DEA office in New York, Bush proclaimed his “stand against those who use films, or records, or television or video games to glorify killing law enforcement officers. It is sick.”
Clinton stirred a controversy within his own party earlier this month when he spoke out against another rap star, Sister Soulja, for her comments that seemed to urge blacks to kill whites. Clinton made the comments at a meeting of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, which had hosted Soulja the day before. Jackson protested that Clinton’s comments were an effort to attract white voters at the expense of blacks.
By contrast, Bush’s words were most likely to stir opposition from Hollywood, where Time-Warner and other entertainment giants have defended the controversial rap songs as vehicles of free speech. Time-Warner has been seeking to fend off efforts led by a Dallas police group and others to organize a boycott of its products in protest of the Ice-T album.
Bush issued his condemnation of Hollywood on a day when his frustration with the presidential race was deeply apparent. At the New York fund raiser, he warmly thanked Gargano for an introductory speech that had sounded a relentless attack on undeclared candidate Perot.
Bush himself spoke repeatedly of the “bizarreness” of this election year, and at a fund raiser in Detroit later Monday night launched into a tirade against “weird talk shows” and “crazy groups on Sunday who tell you what to think.”
With his appearances before the police groups--all filmed by a camera team from his presidential campaign--Bush sought to solidify his claim on the law-and-order issues important to his conservative base of support.
CLINTON LEADS IN POLL: A Washington Post-ABC News Poll finds Democrat leading both Perot and Bush. A16