The Politics of George Clooney, Actor and Liberal Activist

The Politics of George Clooney, Actor and Liberal Activist

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American actor George Clooney is a liberal, a strong supporter of liberal causes and charities, and an outspoken critic of conservative politics and warmongering. Clooney supported John Kerry for President in 2004; Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Hilary Clinton in 2016. Among other causes, he actively supports gay rights.

  • "I'm a liberal. I'm confused when that became a bad word. It's interesting. I think what happened over a period of time, probably in the late '80s when it became sort of a political tool… The liberal movement morally, you know, has stood on the right side of an awful lot of issues. We thought that blacks should be allowed to sit at the front of the bus and women should be able to vote, McCarthy was wrong, Vietnam was a mistake." George Clooney to CNN's Larry King on February 16, 2006.

Actor, Director, Producer

George Clooney is best-known as having been a television and film actor since early 1980's, and as a director and film producer since 2002's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Most Americans first noticed him as the handsome Dr. Doug Ross on the popular television program ER from 1994 to 1999. Clooney regularly appeared in five other television shows prior to ER.

Clooney's acting credits range from the goofy Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) to the seriocomic O Brother Where Art Thou, the Coen brothers' 2000 take on Homer's The Odyssey. His writing, producing, and directing credits include political-commentary films such as Syriana (2005) and The American (2010), as well as historically-themed films such as The Monuments Men (2014) and Good Night, and Good Luck (2006).

The Clooney Family

George Clooney was born in 1961 near Lexington, Kentucky to Nick Clooney, a regional newscaster and well-liked TV personality, and Nina Warren Clooney, local city council member, and former Kentucky beauty queen. He's also the nephew of the singer Rosemary Clooney and cousin of actor Miguel Ferrer. One 2003 article dubs the Clooney clan "the Kennedys of Kentucky" for their formidable liberal influence in the conservative northern part of that state.

By all reports, the Clooneys are a close-knit, Irish-Catholic family, and George is fiercely loyal to his father. When Nick Clooney ran for Congress in 2004, George raised over $600,000 from fellow celebrity-activists for his father's unsuccessful campaign and made personal appearances on behalf of his father.

Charity Causes

In the charity world, Clooney is known for his work with numerous disaster relief efforts, including America: A Tribute to Heroes in 2001 for victims of 9/11; Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, to benefit victims of the late-2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; and the Hope for Haiti Now for the victims of the 2010 earthquake.

Clooney donated $1 million in September 2005 to the United Way Hurricane Katrina Response Fund to help out the victims of the hurricane. Clooney is a member of the United Way Board of Trustees. Said Clooney when he made the donation, "Today our neighbors need food, shelter, and health care, but the very near future is when the difficult part of rebuilding lives and homes and cities starts. We're all in this one together." In March 2006, Clooney donated his Oscar gift-bag (Value: about $100,000) to the United Way, to be auctioned off to benefit that humanitarian organization's programs.

Preventing Mass Atrocities

Clooney has also contributed money and time to the recognition, prevention, and cessation of genocides and mass atrocities. He was instrumental in the creation of Journey to Darfur, a program on the ongoing conflict in Darfur; the recognition of the Armenian Genocide; the Satellite Sentinel Project reporting on the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan; and the Aurora Prize, which awards people who risk their lives to present genocides and atrocities.

In 2006, Clooney's longtime liberal activism and unabashed political views also rose to headline-attracting public prominence. After a 5-day visit to Darfur, Clooney spoke out against genocide in that country and urged greater US and NATO involvement. In September 2006, Clooney testified before the UN Security Council, urging that UN peacekeepers enter Darfur.

Clooney and the Conservative Media

Clooney has been the focus of attacks from conservative media outlets. In September 2001, Clooney was a primary organizer on a telethon to raise money for victims of 9/11. The program, America: A Tribute to Heroes raised US $129 million which was donated to The United Way. Conservative political commentator Bill O'Reilly took Clooney and his associates to task for not appearing on The O'Reilly Factor program to respond to scattered news reports that the money was not, in fact, going to the victims.

Infuriated, Clooney responded in an angry letter to O'Reilly on November 6, 2001, in which he scolded, "The fund is not only the most successful single fundraiser ever, it is doing exactly what it is designed to do. Responsibly. The money is going out to the right people… "

In 2014, the British tabloid The Daily Mail reported that the family of his then-fiancee, Amal Alamuddin, opposed their marriage on religious grounds, saying that some of her relatives had joked about killing the bride if she disobeyed her parents. Clooney wrote an open letter in the USA Today calling the paper a "laughable tabloid" that "crossed into the arena of inciting violence."

A Few Political Films

Over his career, Clooney has appeared in and had some creative control over the production of several films with political content. Here are a few of the best known.

  • Three Kings (1999)-At the Gulf War's end, four US soldiers come across a potential jackpot: a rolled up treasure map to Saddam Hussein's stashes of confiscated gold hidden bewteen the buttocks of a captured soldier. While pursuing selfish gain, the men collide with Iraqi civilians and experience a different side of the war.
  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)-Based on the life of Chuck Barris, who claimed dual careers as loony game-show host and CIA operative for the US government. Also directed by Clooney.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)-Taking place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950's America, this film chronicles the real-life conflict between newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee. In a political climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS news crew persists. McCarthy is brought before the Senate and made powerless as his lies and bullying tactics are finally uncovered. Clooney was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for this film.
  • Syriana (2005)-In this political thriller that unfolds against the intrigue of the global oil industry, Clooney plays the role of career CIA operative who disturbing truths about the work to which he has devoted his life. He won the 2006 Best Supporting Oscar and a Golden Globe for this role.
  • The Ides of March (2011)-Clooney directed and co-wrote the screenplay for this take on modern-day dirty politics,
  • Money Monster (2016)-A financial TV hose and his producer are taken hostage by an irate investor who is convinced there is a conspiracy driving fluctuations in global high tech markets.

Summing Up Liberalism

When asked in 2005 by the German magazine Brigitte, why conservatives continually vilify liberals, Clooney succinctly summed up liberalism…

  • "It's quite amazing that 'liberal' nowadays has become a swear word as in the history of our country it always meant to be on the side of justice. It started with the witchhunt in Salem, the conservatives' point of view was: 'Burn them at the stake', and the liberals' point of view was: 'There are no witches.'
  • And that's how it continued with the civil rights movement and women's suffrage. The liberals were always right in the end.


  • Carr. 2005. A ringside seat for Murrow versus McCarthy. The New York Times, 18 September 2005.
  • Cieply M. 2010. Within days, a global benefit takes shape. The New York Times 21 January 2010.
  • Gibson, C. 2017. George Clooney takes aim at powerhourse D.C. lobbying firm over its ties to the Sudanese government. The Washington Post 7 July 2017.
  • Somaiya R and Haughney C. 2014. Heard the News on George Clooney? This Much Is True: He's Livid. The New York Times, 11 July 2014.
  • Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 2017 George Clooney. Downloaded 24 November 2017

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