The cable network HGTV recently cancelled a reality show called “Flip It Forward,” featuring two social conservatives who, as the name suggests, try to make a living by flipping homes.
Some on the right apparently aren’t pleased with the network’s decision. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) delivered a speech on the House floor late last week, comparing the cable network’s decision to Nazism. Indeed, the congressman likened the situation to “going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. First they would call people haters and evil and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage.”
And while Gohmert’s eccentricities make him easier to ignore, the right-wing Texan isn’t the only Republican elected official taking an interest in the story. My colleague Will Femia reported over the weekend:
…Jindal on Saturday decried “another demonstration of intolerance from the entertainment industry” in HGTV’s cancellation of a reality TV show about flipping houses for profit featuring two men with histories of social conservative activism.HGTV “cancelled the show this week, allegedly because they learned that one of the brothers protested at the Democrat [sic] Party Convention, and the other had protested at an abortion clinic,” Jindal said in a commencement speech at Liberty University, according to excerpts of the governor’s prepared remarks. “Think about that for a minute. If these guys had protested at the Republican Party Convention, instead of cancelling their show, HGTV would probably have given them a raise.”
Liberty University, of course, is the Virginia school founded by Jerry Falwell, the radical televangelist who died seven years ago this week. The “Flip It Forward” hosts, twin brothers David and Jason Benham, are Liberty alumni.
For Jindal, who appears to be laying the groundwork for a national campaign, the cancellation is further proof of what he described as the left’s “war on religion.” The Republican governor added, “Under the Obama regime, you have the protection of the First Amendment as an individual, you see – but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections.”
Let’s unwrap this a bit, because it’s easy to see this becoming part of a larger conversation.
First, Jindal still doesn’t seem to understand what the First Amendment means. Second, President Obama is not leading a “regime”; he’s a two-term democratically elected president. Third, to see HGTV as “the left” is to take an overly narrow view of contemporary liberalism. Fourth, if you’re looking for evidence of a “war on religion” and you’re stuck with David and Jason Benham, then there probably is no actual “war.”
But even putting all of that aside, what is with Bobby Jindal and his interest in reality television?
In December, the Louisiana governor took it upon himself to lead the criticisms against A&E after it temporarily suspended Phil Robertson, one of the stars of a show called “Duck Dynasty.” Six months later, Jindal is worked up all over again, this time about the fate of “Flip It Forward” on another network.
To be sure, ambitious would-be leaders often advance their careers on different issues. In advance of 2016, it’s easy to imagine various Republican presidential candidates focusing on all kinds of areas, most of which will be built on condemning President Obama for one reason or another.
But note how Jindal’s vision is taking shape – the Louisiana governor not only wants to position himself as a leading culture warrior, he’s doing so with a specific preoccupation with reality TV.
I suppose everyone needs their own shtick, but this seems like an odd approach to pursuing national office.