Trump Team Detects Anti-Donald Bias In TV Dramas: Reports

MSNBC is not the only place on TV where anti-Trump plot lines are the order of the day.

Now, scripted shows from broadcast TV to pay cable are getting in on the act, producing storylines by the boatload that reflect today's divisive politics. Or more to the point, they represent the prevailing point of view in Hollywood, which is: Trump is bad.

The trend has not gone unnoticed by Trump and his White House team, according to this New York Daily News story.

The story is a gossip-column item citing an unnamed source who says the Trump administration is “upset” about what some of its personnel have apparently noticed when watching recent episodes of shows such as “Designated Survivor” on ABC and “Madam Secretary” on CBS.

“They feel the Hollywood elite is using its power to make these innuendos about President Trump,” the story quotes its “insider” as saying. “People in the administration are upset about it.”

In “Designated Survivor,” Kiefer Sutherland (pictured on the show, above) plays a low-ranking cabinet member who suddenly becomes president when he emerges as the only government official in the line of succession to survive an attack on Washington.

He is, therefore, a president with very little experience in the highest levels of government, just like you-know-who.

In “Madam Secretary,” Tea Leoni plays a hard-charging Secretary of State who seems loosely modeled on Hillary Clinton.

In a recent episode cited by the Daily News story and a follow-up story on the Hollywood Reporter Web site, the Leoni character was groped by a fictional president -- a president of the Philippines, that is. Viewers were evidently supposed to recall the accusations last year by some women that Trump had groped them.

The Hollywood Reporter story delves even further into the topic with plot lines about questionable presidential practices on a number of shows beyond just “Designated Survivor” and “Madam Secretary.”

These shows include “The Good Fight” on CBS All Access, “Quantico” and “Scandal” on ABC, and Showtime’s “Homeland.”

With the exception of “Homeland,” I don’t follow or watch any of these shows sufficiently to pass judgment on the appropriateness of these storylines cited by The Hollywood Reporter and Daily News.

What is interesting to me is the implication in these stories that members of Trump’s administration -- and possibly Trump himself -- are always so well-informed about, and in tune with, how aspects of their world are portrayed or talked about on TV.

I happen to make my living watching TV (laugh all you want at that statement--– I’m used to it), and even I don’t have time to watch as much TV as these people seem to watch. Don’t they have better, more important things to do? The answer is: Yes.

One also wonders whether producing these plot lines is good business for these shows and their networks. In conversations I’m having with friends and acquaintances, I’m hearing more and more often that people are turning away from content that reminds them of the political turmoil we have all been living with through the media since at least June 2015, when Trump first threw his hat into the ring.

It’s no wonder that ratings are up for networks such as Hallmark Channel and HGTV. In my world, HGTV shows such as “Fixer Upper” and “Flip Or Flop” come up far more often in conversations than “The O’Reilly Factor.”

The fact is, TV’s dramas -- even on our most mainstream broadcast networks -- have long trafficked in storylines about the dark and shadowy corners of the government, although it is probably accurate to say the trend subsided noticeably during the eight years of the Obama administration.

Today, with Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway in the White House, the floodgates are apparently open once again. I wonder what the “Property Brothers” are up to?

11 comments about "Trump Team Detects Anti-Donald Bias In TV Dramas: Reports".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 30, 2017 at 2:40 p.m.

    I remember The West Wing in the 1990s. It was preachy about politics, almost always from the standpoint of big business is bad, big government is good. Hollywood is predictable if nothing else.

  2. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, March 30, 2017 at 2:49 p.m.

    It's interesting to know that the Trump team noticed it in Madame Secretary, since it lay solely in the description of the newly elected leader of the Phillipines. You only got it if you picked it up in the description of the fictional character — an unhinged, woman groping business man who rode the populist wave to win the Phillipine elections. But heck, if he sees himself in that description, if that shoe fits, I don't know what to say.

  3. Steve Beverly from Union Broadcasting System, March 30, 2017 at 3:10 p.m.

    You nailed all of it, Adam.  Truth is:  the Hollywood creative community, which has never engaged in a balance of ideas (i.e., if you aren't a liberal Democrat, you don't belong), is already creating a huge fatigue factor with its overt anti-Trump scripts and it's not going to be long before that fatigue factor carries over into the late night talk shows that operate with a hammer.

  4. Chuck Lantz from, network, March 30, 2017 at 4:24 p.m.

    It's interesting that some see any storyline that attacks corruption, trolling, groping, etc., as being anti-Trump.  I can't recall anyone complaining because a TV show villain was black back when Obama was president. 

    And for those who feel "fatigued" when faced with all the real and imagined "anti-Trump" storylines; Just switch to Fox News. It's on 24 hours a day.  Problem solved.

    ... And you might want to seek medical advice about your extremely thin skin. 

  5. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, March 30, 2017 at 6:10 p.m.

    Maybe these shows well help him get IMPEACHED!

  6. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, March 30, 2017 at 6:19 p.m.

    Steve: Maybe the reason right-wingers can't get many decent Hollywood rolls is because they act badly?

    (Sorry.  I couldn't stop myself)

  7. Tony Nino from PADV Pasadena Advertising, March 30, 2017 at 7:34 p.m.

    Oh good Lord.

    The government has long lamented their treatment in popular entertainment.
    In the ‘60s:
    Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (pretty vicious at times)
    Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (always vicious all the time)
    The Twilight Zone (could be vicious at times)
    Still the government survived.
    In the ‘70s:
    All in the Family (Also pretty vicious at times)
    M*A*S*H (always vicious all the time)
    Maude (combination of vicious and just plain bitchy)
    Saturday Night Live (always vicious all the time)
    Still the government survived.
    In the ’80s:
    Lou Grant (could be vicious at times)
    All in the Family (even the spin-offs were pretty vicious at times)
    M*A*S*H (always vicious all the time)
    Saturday Night Live (always vicious all the time)
    Not to mention the often irritating Fact-Based News of Jennings, Rather and Brokaw.
    And still, somehow, the government managed to successfully survive.
    Sometimes with a sense of humor.
    Sometimes not.
    And so it continues. And will as long as the audience enjoys it.
    The only difference now is the unending wailing and whining from the tippy top.
    Perhaps it's time to call a Wahmbulance. Somebody dial 1 (800) wah wah wah - wah wah wah wah.

  8. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, March 30, 2017 at 7:44 p.m.

    Did you just accuse someone else of being predictable?  Wow. And I was about to post something about the Right not being funny. 

    (And yes, I too am very predicatable)

  9. John Grono from GAP Research, March 31, 2017 at 12:53 a.m.

    Would it be series 3 of Madam Secretary on air that is under question?

    If so it was renewed back on March 25, 2016 and premiered on October 2, 2016.

    Most renewals and commissions require final scripts (or close to final) and it is rare for a series to commence without the broadcaster having seen all episodes in at least first edit.

    So let's pay credit where it is due.

    All hail the writers, producers, actors and crew for being so prescient of a Presidency that didn't even exist at that stage, and a President that wasn't to secure his nomination until some months after Series 3 was announced.

    I'll be getting them to buy my lottery tickets and make stock recommendations.

  10. Jon Currie from Currie Communications, Inc. replied, April 16, 2017 at 9:17 p.m.

    So are your comments.

  11. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, April 17, 2017 at 2:08 a.m.

    Jon: Wow. You picked right up on that. What gave it away?

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