tv Call-in with Roger L. Simon I Know Best CSPAN May 31, 2018 8:51pm-9:46pm EDT
storytelling -- that you must do this, it's necessary it's not going to make you a great writer. the, then you sit down and you discover that actually they could all do it. there is nothing about learning to do those things that impedes creativity. >> watch our special series, in-depth, fiction it edition on sunday from new to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book tv on c-span2. >> if you don't know the name we want to introduce you to author roger simon. he has written a few books, a detective series, novels, turning right, and here's his
most recent book called, i know best, how moral narcissism is destroying our republic if it has not already. roger is a hollywood screenwriter, busted loose, scenes from a mall and nominated for an oscar for his best adapted screenplay. is also the cofounder and ceo of pj media. roger, what is pj media? >> it was -- when we started at the early party of the century. they were blogs that had response for dan rather's line about the bush national guard
situation. then, i guess he was the editor or supervising editor of cbs called us all amateurs in our pajamas so we do decided to form a media company called pajama media. he did not realize that most of us were not that amateurish. he did not bother to look it up before he attacked us. but that's normal, that's what most people do. then in the evolved and now originally i tried to form it is a media company on the right and left with dialogue. but then that fell apart. in part because people on the left wanting more money. it was like if you wonder how
much someone gets paid by fox news, we were company so we cannot afford to negotiate that way. it became more of a lot of libertarians. i guess i consider myself libertarian. i don't like definitions much. but, that's what happened. then i would say it's a media company reporting and giving opinion and all the things that national review does. >> what people consider it conservative? >> i think that is fair to say. despite the honest intention of trying to do the impossible which in our culture doesn't exist. >> you heard the book that came out a couple of years ago called turning right on hollywood and vine.
this is an tensile town, were you not always a conservative or libertarian? >> no. as a matter fact you're looking at one of the original financiers of the black panther party. i was pretty far to the left when i was young man. i might be the living embodiment of that quote -- it with churchill, if a man is not a liberal he has no heart, if he's not a conservative at 30 has no brain. whatever the quote was given it was given people lived a lot shorter. you get the idea. i and more of a 9/11 person. >> so 9/11 impacted your politics. >> yes. my politics have been slightly impacted by the oj trial.
that was a gigantic deal. it took over the city is people who are a live then will remember. i went to the trial and was a civil rights worker for the south. it disturbed me to see someone obviously guilty getting off for racial reasons. back in the days when i was in the silver its movement i believed in integration and was essentially tribalism that got oj off. that did not change me that much. it just disturbed me. then, when 9/11 hit i kind of flipped over a lot. not entirely. to this day i'm pro- gay marriage for example.
but at that point, i switched over and started blogging at the same time. i'm an early adopter. my father's a radiologist and i grew up around all kinds. i started to blog early. because i had a novel coming out which is one of my detective series. i noticed that simon & schuster wasn't promoted the book very much. i've been an author for a long enough time that you could tell when they like to book and when they didn't. i decided i would blog to push the book, not just one of the static author sites. i started to blog and my opinions and it took off like crazy. but the book at them. nevertheless, something good happened.
the blog took off because i was going through political change and just being honest about it. a lot of people at that time were talking 2003 were going through a change like that. if you remember the immediate post- 9/11 time people thought what is happening here. but then a lot reverted to where they were before. somehow, it's a mystery to me, even the way wrote it to explain myself i did not fully explain myself because i think people are mysterious and why they believe what they do. the complex issue. i think it's a theme of my life and work going forward whether it's fiction or nonfiction. >> did you lose the friendships when you came out of conservative hollywood?
>> absolutely. >> did you lose work? >> is a terrible thing. it has gone on in this country all over the place. thanksgiving is not what it used to be. >> describe what happened in hollywood? >> it took me a while to realize how bad it was. i had an early title which was called blacklisting myself. the publisher changed in the second edition but, either way, in the beginning i think that writer should express what they feel, otherwise what is the point of writing. go manufacture ball bearings than or something. writing is about expressions of where you're at.
in this age of twitter where everybody wants to bite each other's head off it's crazy. at that point, took me a while to realize what happened. it took a while to hear back from my manager. it was interesting, in the case of a manager he was sympathetic to what i was saying. like many people in hollywood this what the mafia referred to as the code of silence. you don't say your opinion if -- unless your clint eastwood in which case you're so famous they like mount rushmore. the most people are not that. almost all writers are not that. another schmuck's with apples.
>> is there a code of conservatives in hollywood? >> it's not entirely underground. there's an organization called the friends of a for a while those very underground. then they had an event in 900 people went to a party as if that was a secret. can you imagine in hollywood, big bash at a fancy house with 900 people being the secret? ridiculous. there are always a certain number of people, they were conservatives. the original post of a hollywood movie was conservative. yankee doodle and andy, we could go on and on.
i think now, in the trump era there are doubts going on because trump is hated like poison ivy or worse. at the same time, you realize there's a giant audience out there that's alienated. stockholders of these companies should be a little annoyed. >> since you have been identified as a conservative or libertarian as you say i am a libertarian what you might ask? i resolve the contradiction this way, i'm a libertarian most domestically. >> that's interesting, it's a book -- the thing about books is the leg time.
i think trump did the right thing in syria, he didn't go very far which is good, but he made it clear that were america we don't like people gassing people. but domestically i'm very much on the libertarian camp. i think change comes from the people themselves and from pulling themselves up. it is what made this country great. >> since you have come out as a conservative, how has your work changed? >> i am old enough -- a lot of people i work with die. my great collaboration with paul -- is over. because he's over. he's a wonderful man. but he was say i know what happened to roger, i think he is dead. i know he didn't mean it because he loved me.
it was the jewish humor from new york that he practiced and his way of expressing i feel disappointed in you. but i was there the day he died. so is an hour or two before it happened and we were very close. some people are not able to get past that. it's not just hollywood, something very bad is happen. it's very weird. i often think of freud's famous narcissism of small differences. , people don't like trump because he's a loudmouth, he tweets insults people, but what is he actually done? he lowered taxes, is negotiating with north korea for the first time, that's good. the reality of it and what
people attacking for our like from a different planet. that's not to say the right is pure. they're not. but were living in this complicated culture. you look at the l.a. festival of books in this it beautiful environment. everyone is welcome and eating well. in the history of civilization things cannot be better. it's pretty strange if you think about it. >> good afternoon and welcome to l.a. this is the last segment of our book festival. our guest, screenwriter, author, roger simon. we will talk to him for a little longer. we want to put the phone lines up c can participate as well. we're talking about conservatives in hollywood and political opinions. we will explore this a little
more. mr. simon, the most recent book is i know best, how moral narcissism is destroying our republic. he spent quite a bit of time identifying what you consider to be royal narcissist. what is this? >> it's how so many people identify themselves as being good because of what they believe. not because of what they do. >> as lyons you say the right thing or what is culturally accepted is the right thing, t whether the results are good or bad is immaterial.
we have so many moral narcissist. i'm an undocumented worker, oh baloney. he is the son of a rich man thomas jefferson, what was he talking about? after i wrote the book people came up with the turn virtual signaling which is what a moral narcissist us. >> virtue signaling. they signal how virtuous they are because they are moral narcissist. what that does is established a -- in the united states.
his people who know their russian and the soviet union of those people who live tie up in the soviet society. stalin was a filing cabinet. now we have our media politics and our own george stephanopoulos is who i think the same way according to what they're supposed to think if we are to become part of that class. the entire russia collusion event which happened not long after the book is a morally narcissistic idea. they all wanted there to be collusion but there was no collusion. if there's no collusion there the worst detectives on the planet. it feels like it's been going on
for a century with no evidence of collusion whatsoever. when obama talked about collusion we saw it on television. is that i will be easier on this one. there is no evidence. there's lots of things you can say that about trump. but that is not one of them. but with moral narcissist and you have to think a certain way. therefore the entire media, even the front pages of the wall street journal spent the last year taking weeks and investigating something that was not in existence. that is moral narcissism. your part of the club. you are a respected person if you believe this. there's a line in the book it
was from a great writer, one of the greatest things is a song in a picnic and it says nothing so bad for a woman than a man who thinks he is good. on a site is true. it is true. the minute you start to think you're good, you're not good. this whole thing is that people think they're good and trump is bad. >> what are some of the other issues that in your view liberals believe that perhaps you disagree with. >> has an civil-rights worker, i think the approach to race is dead wrong. there was an interview in 2006,
morgan freeman. he said to morgan freeman, what are you doing for black history month? morgan freeman said, nothing. and they said, what are you doing for american history month? and wallace said, nothing. it is said what about jewish history month question what you want there to be a jewish history month? and mike said, no. but then he said but, what do we do about racism? morgan freeman said, will how about you call me morgan and i call you mike. chills went down my spine.
of all the years, that is the answer. what happened in recent years is that we went back. people have nostalgia, hate to use that word. people have nostalgia for that need to feel self-righteous about this is bad and this is good. the only open answer to racism is to forget about it. when i say that to some people they say you can't forget about that. the more you talk about it, the more you create it. it is an interesting phenomenon. if you just say, look at the city, this is nothing more multicultural than los angeles. you can see right here in the crowd around us, who cares. let it be, forget about it. that is why when i see black lives matter i say why, that is not helping anything?
the whole thing about the recruit of the clan, to know how many that is? 250. to know how big this country is? 330 million. will there always be 250 idiots like that, of course. you look at the starbucks incident, something like i say no, most people are very good about it. speaking for myself when i was hiring people of a person of color some group, or a gay person came and i was happy. i wanted to feel like a good guy and hire you. that's unfair to the other guy, i understand that. but that is where most people are. it should be accepted.
i was on the left, i knew everybody in the chicago senate. but it's over. forget about it. that was then, this is now. and of sermon. >> we want to make sure to get some calls in. we have some waiting for you. let's hear from keith in delaware. neuron. >> caller: mr. simon, thank you for. today on book tv. did you make any mention in your book, i know best about david and charles coke and things about libertarianism and so forth? >> what you think of their views keith? >> caller: i work for one of their companies for five years.
and i am not particularly an agreement with the way they see things. >> thank you sir. >> guest: i don't believe in any ideology completely. i think that dangers you. you get home by it. but i think the koch brothers are often misunderstood. they start attacking the koch brothers, a say you know you're in for a gay marriage before obama, they don't believe me. they say will go to google and look it up. >> host: mike is calling in from new jersey. good afternoon.
>> caller: good afternoon. my question has to do with political correctness. what is roger's opinion about political correctness and the effect of our culture, particularly in the universities and as far as having an international dialogue, how does he feel about political correctness? >> guest: i will answer that. you bring up the university, going to get into it heavily now because it's premature. but my wife and i are starting a company that deals with political correctness in the university. the university is a place where the chairman -- should roll. because he famously said, let a hundred schools of thought
content. in our universities today only one school of law contents. that's not good for education. i'm sure you would agree. >> you are right about higher education a moral narcissism. social science and humanity faculties are largely a collection of morally narcissistic yes men and women,'s students are forced to comply with their views in order to succeed when they do so automatically assuming it is fruitless to adjust. >> that is what i believe. i went to two universities and i visited again lately and they're not the same places. i was a student protester. go figure. something is on. >> i don't know if you saw recently the college in portland, oregon is dropping a
lot of their year-long humanities classics course because it is too focused on white men. >> ucla, not far from where we are now, you no longer have to read shakespeare ordered new to get a degree in english. >> host: wise that a bad thing? >> guest: because, there is such a thing as good and bad work. the politically correct people don't agree. but, i would say that shakespeare's probably the most talented human being who ever lived, i'm a writer, i am a little bit prejudiced. if you study literature and have not studied shakespeare, you are it's like studying religion and not reading the bible. is that extreme.
because he was a white man, so what. i don't care. i think it's interesting to read eugene -- about a black russian. i don't care whether they are white or black. i'm a follower of the chinese who said famously, i don't care if a cat is black or white, i only care if it catches mice. >> host: we mentioned you are the screenwriter, what other kind of work to do here in hollywood? >> guest: i did a lot of work in hollywood and never got paid. that was typical. one thing that did get made eventually was rewritten, a film
called a better life that just came out a couple of years ago. the lead actor got nominated for the academy award on that one. what was interesting is that i wrote it 20 years ago. under the title, the gardener. it was an american latino version of the bicycle the, classical italian movie. i was directing it but the money never showed. it's such a typical story in hollywood. if you promote it, then you are just like a victim knowledge is. that's a bad thing to be. people who come to hollywood and then complain about hollywood, it was all there, or what makes sammy run are those great books about hollywood. it's always been the same. >> host: what is it like to be a top of this town?
>> guest: is great for ten minutes. i had my ten or 20 minutes. when i wrote enemies and people are saying it was the best -- ever, i felt like a million dollars. part of me was saying, this will not last more than ten minutes. it lasted 20 minutes. an earlier version of that when i wrote the big fix and the screen adaptation of my about, there was a burst of that. that i worked with richard pryor there is a burst of it. but unless your name is steven spielberg, that's what it is. it is nowhere near as glamorous as it used to be. now it is more industrialized. there's not even the attraction.
>> host: you mentioned that you and your wife are starting a new company dealing with higher education and political correctness. does she share your politics? >> guest: yes. we cannot do it together she didn't. it would not be a marriage made in heaven. i would say if a company is going to try to open up the higher educational system through a variety of ideas, i think everybody should study marks. i think those who have not read that are uneducated. but you also have to read smith and friedman to make your judgment. >> host: george's calling in from minnesota. go ahead. >> caller: hello. thank you for taking my call. can you hear me okay? >> host: we are listening, please go ahead. >> caller: okay.
mr. simon, you have said some very interesting things. i was a bit in a quandary about the title of your book about moral narcissism. to me, i cannot imagine a better example of being a moral narcissist than being a libertarian. that's about as morally narcissistic as i can imagine. that is just one. >> guest: i understand that a little bit. >> caller: the other one, the big moral change for you you say was 9/11. for me it was two. i am not going to get into a big argument about culpability and conspiracies, just want to ask you, did you ever consider that
the bush administration may have had some complicity in 9/11? i'll hang up and listen to what you have to say. >> host: libertarian is a moral narcissist, and 9/11 is a conspiracy. >> guest: first, i understand there's a level of moral narcissism and everything. when i say i am a libertarian i mean i'm half libertarian. i don't believe that hearing 100% any ideology is smart. there's a lot to learn from a lot of things. if you want to nail me as a libertarian, go ahead. but i am not really -- you go to rand paul for that. the other thing is asking if the bushes are guilty about 9/11, i think absolutely not. i think that is cuckoo conspiracy stuff. >> host: will try alan, good
afternoon, you are on. >> caller: thank you. i have the impression, though i have not read a lot of books or seen movies, that movies and books tend to pick sides these days, right and left. undefended thing criticize the other side of perhaps there are movies or books that do not do this, but given your bipartisan background, perhaps we need a movie author to produce some movie that actually has people coming together for a way to come together rather than to always emphasize fighting the other guy to death. thank you.
>> guest: i could not agree with you more. there is a great quote from the french filmmaker, the sun of a great painter. the quote is, everybody has his reasons. i was believe that is true. the great fiction writing and great film making all the characters have the reasons for being who they are. if we understand that, a lot of what we're talking about comes true. i'm always working on a book and i'm writing a novel now. the novel will never be as explicit as what i write a nonfiction. >> host: from your book, from what i know best -- a form of -- is being performed by elise that is intended to blur and make a see a situation that is not there that should be in that would be consistent with their worldviews and maintenance of
power. >> what are we talking about? >> guest: i could be talking about the russian collusion. that could be happening. in general, political elites and the extreme sense, but also here and everywhere the primary interest is power. therefore, their manipulating ideas tease power all of the time. but narcissism makes them feel good about it. all those people were saying trump colluded with russia, they were feeling good about themselves because the other guy was saying yes. never bothered to really check it out. once in a while, i remember they asked dianne feinstein whether she found anything and she said no. it's almost comical if not sad. a severed country.
but, a lot of time and money was wasted. >> host: what was your opening of ronald reagan contemporaneously? >> guest: contemporaneously i thought he was a terrible right wing, awful, stupid person. then in the middle of the reagan administration i was sent to washington, d.c. by universal pictures to write a movie for whoopi goldberg. she has been around for a while, too. anyway, i went to washington and i never had a red carpet like that in my life. in the midst, is welcomed into the pressroom by reagan's press
representative, he was always drinking bourbon, anyway i rode on the press plane. i never seen reagan speak. i wrote on the press plane to tallahassee, florida. reagan was giving a speech for the day to a pretty much all black high school in tallahassee. all of a sudden i'm in the audience and watching the sky speak and i say, my god, he was wonderful with those kids. the kids loved him. i was thinking there something wrong here. this is not the monster who said if you have seen -- you've seen it all. then i realized he was making a deal with gorbachev and the wall was coming down. i got confused.
one of the great stories of our times. why i won't read the book. >> host: this is your call him what the quote right here at the top. >> guest: i still believe that is true except i could learn a little bit more about the pathology of james comey, but it's hard to get into it. he's a strange human being and what is interesting is people that strange could rise to those tweet director of the fbi is a powerful decision.
speech [inaudible] i wrote a novel while i was a student and it got published much to the consternation of my fellow students. it was bought by the movies by albert hitchcock. i told you it was like an amazing experience and i never wrote a screenplay that this could never happen now. they just like the dialogue in the novel. it is a different place now. and who is to say no. >> host: so you came here to hollywood. are you going to stay here? >> guest: no, it's time to leave. that doesn't mean i'm going to stop writing. it's in my dna.
if you stay in one place for too long. >> host: when is this happening. >> guest: shortly. to some extent always i have lived here at odds with many of my neighbors for quite a while. there is deeper reasons than that. it is a strange comparison. but after years of using your mouse with a right hand, use it with your left hand. it is the pathways. my pathways here are very
circumscribed and i think that happens to a lot of people as they get older and i just want to break it up. i hear that nashville is they go to place. it's very mixed politically. i like that. i like action. the part i like about la is the action. >> host: greg from illinois, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hello, roger. i'm a big fan of pj media. it is a pleasure to speak with you. i've gotten very bored with hollywood.
the these days are some of the same category. you know it's going to happen the characters may change in the circumstances may change. who are some of your favorite authors that you'd like to read? >> host: that was in illinois. >> caller: >> guest: i have to say i share your admiration, he's a friend of mine and is writing the most interesting political material in the country today, no question. on the other larger issue of movies and books getting repetitive and boring, i don't
think it is and how eerily true, but there is some truth. the other problem is as you grow older and i noticed myself that i hate to admit, i have seen so many movies now i know what's going to happen because i've been down the road myself so many times. i'm the worst critic when people ask me should i go see this movie i say don't ask me. i'm a member of the academy. they come out every year in dvd form to vote and it's like the sorcerer's apprentice because it's a ten day the doorbell will ring and it will be 30 movies and it's like i don't want to see them anymore but of course what you do is call your friends and to say i say as this one wog because nobody watches them all. i mean i can't believe they do.
>> host: are you a voting member of the academy, the oscars has been in the news the last several years because of politics etc., political correctness. >> guest: it is a symptom of our times. everything has become like that. i'm just bored with it. i hate to say that. if someone wants to attack me for my white skin privilege is come of this finger got broken in the civil rights movement. i think it is all counterproductive because as long as i've been a member of the academy since 1985, it's been welcoming to the minority members. people want that. nobody was more of a hero to the academies than sydney.
who doesn't want that. it's a great talent. but the idea of putting quotas on their race. we live in this situation where we are obsessed with this stuff. >> host: roger simon's book is turning right at hollywood and vine and i know best. karl is in joshua tree california and you are on book tv. >> caller: i have been really enjoying this.
i would like to know the definition of what political correctness is, this term that has been thrown around for decades but yet nobody can tell me what it is. it seems to me politically correct is not insulting people. i will take me answe my answer e air. >> guest: good question. if that's politically correct, i am not for it because it is fine to a insult people like hitler but i'm not going to insult you or anyone. what people react against in the political correctness is that it
is a forced font. you can't say one thing because it i isn't the right thing "-end-quotes. that's kind of the enemy of truth assuming there is a truth, but i am not getting into that. political correctness is the enemy. >> host: stuart mechanicsville georgia go ahead with your question or comment. >> guest: >> caller: i was sitting here reading a book and also watching you at the same time. i put down my book and i'm smoking a pipe so that isn't correct either, but i've been listening to you and by the way,
i spent some time in kentucky, a hop skip and a jump from nashville. you will enjoy a nashville. but here's my point. obviously i am a male. i am white and i speak with a southern accent. when i call into programs, i think 90% of the public already assumes that i'm a racist, and that is the furthest thing from the truth. >> guest: that is very sad to me today. and i will say something else about that. because i was in the civil rights movement in south carolina in the 60s. and more recently covering the political campaigns for the pj media i was in charleston i was struck by something rather amazing.
i think it is interesting. the south has made more racial peace and the north. i don't know how that happens, but it did. part of the thing is people knew each other better. >> host: charles in lexington virginia you have 30 seconds to get the last word. >> caller: thank you very much. just a quick question. i think it's been true hollywood certainly since the days of griffin that there have been people on all ends of the political spectrum both the left and the right strongly articulating their viewpoints. what happened in the last 20 or 30 years that the conservative side of the spectrum has largely disappeared? why don't we hear from the conservatives? >> guest: my generation i think i will tell you why i
think so. 1968 was a civil year and a lot of people thinking and since 68, hollywood gradually switched over to become a left-wing mouthpiece and it was a product of my generation. i am a 68 by for a long time i was 6 68 and we all came to take over hollywood so that's what happened. >> host: the most recent book how narcissism is destroying the republic. if it hasn't already. thank you for being on book tv. >> guest: thank you.
have said that his stubbornness was a kind of leade the kind ofn to his father's strictness into the confined to a story where his father made him revise a thing he wrote a whole bunch of times and the suppositions are that he resounded this, he was a good boy and he put up with it. but when you read every mentioning, they never had an unkind word to say. sunday at eight eastern on c-span q-and-a. a discussion about feminism, sexual harassment and the need to movement with four female writers jamie, camille, melissa and kathy. from the unbound