Actor-producer-activist Tim Robbins used the bully pulpit of the NAB Show to criticize media consolidation, chide conservative talk radio and lambaste the Bush administration’s Iraqi war policies.
Employing language that would have undoubtedly resulted in a broadcaster receiving a $325,000 “indecency” fine, Robbins began by issuing a tongue-in-cheek apology to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and “Laura what’s-her-name” for his skepticism over reasons for going to war in Iraq.
Robbins sarcastically admitted that he had been a “dupe of left-wing appeasement” for questioning the Bush adminstration. Now that he sees “all the smiling faces” in Iraq and that “democracy is spreading throughout the Middle East,” Robbins slyly admitted that “the talk radio geniuses” were right.
The activist continued with entertaining and biting commentary on the broadcast industry, before issuing this challenge: “We are at an abyss, as an industry and as a country. We are at a critical juncture in this nation’s history. This is a nation divided and reeling from betrayal and economic hardship,” he said.
“And you, the broadcasters of this great nation, have tremendous power, and the tremendous potential to effect change. You have the power to turn this country away from cynicism. You have the power to turn this nation away from the hatred and the divisive dialogue that has rendered such a corrosive effect on our body politic.”
Robbins’ comments came after he initially hesitated on whether to give the speech. His remarks were peppered with occasional “F-words” and other colorful language.
Asked to respond to the Robbins speech, NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said the NAB “found Mr. Robbins’ remarks to be entertaining and thought-provoking, although we were not expecting the expletives that were not deleted. We obviously disagree with some of his comments regarding media ownership, but we respect his right to give them.” ©2008 NAB