Plus: The Brady Campaign's Dan Gross on the Aftermath of Lafayette; Cecil the Lion and Mass Outrage
When President Obama went on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” recently, he spent much of the half-hour highlighting the merits of the deal with Iran to limit that country’s nuclear program.
That drew criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who said Obama’s appearance lacked class, as he “goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran.”
But the political environment is not a battle for decorum, but attention.
This week, a group that has been warning of the threat of the world’s nuclear arsenal, Global Zero, went a step further with the release of a web video that mixes Jack Black, Natasha Lyonne, Farshad Farahat and Morgan Freeman with Thomas Pickering and Valerie Plame, all in an effort to build congressional support for the deal.
The video is a satire of an earnest PSA while still getting serious about what is at stake.
“It is not usual that you crack a smile about nuclear issues or get Jack Black involved or Morgan Freeman,” Plame tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “We were very lucky to have both of them on board.” She said that their goal was to reach “out to all different demographics, especially young people. They respond well to humor, but we are using it as an entry point. You come into it and say, ‘You do need to pay attention to this.'”
Plame says that opponents of the deal have been able to “set up a narrative, and it is hard to cut through that,” although she said that she is hopeful to get their message through in the coming weeks.
She warns that “if we miss this opportunity, we will regret it deeply,” noting the likelihood that the sanctions regime will collapse and “sure enough, Iran will get a nuclear weapon.”
“It is an absolutely fantasy to believe that there is some better deal out there,” she says. “Sure, it is not a perfect deal, but I also wish there were magic unicorns in the forest, but there are not. You have to deal with reality.”
Plame also talks about the prospects that the deal could lead to a more moderate regime in Iran. And she says that Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying on behalf of Israel, should spend his life in prison. He was granted parole, and will be released later this year.
The organization says that the video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times online. YouTube’s counter shows 431,000 views.
Update: The latest totals on views: Global Zero’s YouTube page, 562,000; Global Zero Facebook, 457,000; Huffington Post Facebook, 822,000; Huffington Post AOL, 200,000; Huffington Post YouTube, 38,000.
The Aftermath of Lafayette
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that he thinks momentum has been building for greater action on gun laws, despite perceptions following mass shootings like that in Lafayette, La.
That shooting was followed by talk of greater security at movie theaters, even of installing metal detectors, but Gross says that can be a diversion from the real issue, which is to expand background checks.
Big Money Bunch
Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban each gave $1 million to a SuperPAC backing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. While the $15.7 million raised by Priorities USA Action is just a sliver of that raised by the Jeb Bush SuperPAC, Right to Rise, it nevertheless shows that major figures in the entertainment industry are willing to pony up early. When Priorities launched to support President Obama’s re-election campaign, many donors were reluctant to give as so many were appalled by the flow of big money into politics. But donors picked up as Obama gave his tacit blessing to the group, and later said that “we’re not going to just unilaterally disarm.” This time around, Clinton already has embraced the group, even if she herself has called for getting “unaccountable money” out of politics. In fact, showbiz sources accounted for about one-third of Priorities’ take in the first half of 2015.
For all the talk of how much more difficult it is to draw national attention in a fractured media universe, doesn’t the case of the dentist who killed Zimbabwe’s beloved Cecil the lion show just the opposite? It seemed to take just hours for the story to spread on Facebook and Twitter, and that same length of time for the dentist to become the most reviled man on the Internet.
Variety‘s David Cohen and U.S. News’ Nikki Schwab talk about how quickly reputations can be wiped out in the digital age — and how misinformation is all the more difficult to correct.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS 124.