To hear Democrats tell it, you might think the National Rifle Association
is the most powerful lobby in all of America. And there's some truth to that. After suspected gunman James Holmes massacred 12 people in a Colorado movie theater, Republican and Democratic leaders offered their prayers and sympathy, but little in the way of ideas or legislation about how to make the country safer. In fact, Democrats have spent most of their time painting the gun lobby as unstoppable, even suggesting that lawmakers are too chicken
to cross the NRA and support tougher gun control laws.
But Republicans, weary of the NRA invincibility narrative, wonder why there's no discussion of Hollywood's lobbying clout. After all, some argue, movie studios and television stations reap huge profits selling violence -- like the kind featured in the Batman movie whose fans Holmes targeted -- and have developed a sophisticated
political and lobbying strategy to ensure government doesn't get into the business of regulating it.
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For instance, Time Warner
, the parent company of Warner Bros.
, the studio that produced "The Dark Knight Rises," has given almost $22 million in campaign contributions since 1989, mostly to Democrats. And that's just one of the six major studios. The NRA, by contrast, has given almost $19 million, mostly to Republicans, over the same amount of time. George Clooney's Hollywood fundraiser raised
almost that much in one night for President Obama.
But more than the political money, both the gun and entertainment industries know how to play the Washington game. Both spend millions each year lobbying to keep government out of their business. And both have high-profile inside players representing them in Washington: Wayne LaPierre atop the NRA and former Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd at the helm of the Motion Picture Association of America.
When a gun tragedy befalls the nation, both industries end up in the headlines as the media and the public examines, yet again, how guns and violent entertainment may have influenced the shooters.
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This time, it would be worth examining how the gun lobby and Hollywood exert their influence on Congress and to what extent that shapes public policy.