ABC's Sawyer Swoons Over Liberal Agenda of Robert Redford Film

According to Robert Redford and ABC co-host Diane Sawyer, you're either a liberal activist or you are apathetic. Those are the two options. The famous left-wing actor/director appeared on Tuesday's "Good Morning America" to promote his new anti-war film, "Lions For Lambs." After playing a clip of the movie that shows Redford's character, a college professor, deriding a student for not opposing his government, Sawyer breathlessly asked the star, "You've been touring colleges. Is it true? Are they not awake out there? Are they waking up? What's the difference? What's it going to take?"

Redford, who also directed the film, asserted that "the pendulum is beginning to swing back" and repeated the cliched liberal claim that young people aren't aggressively opposing the war because "the fact that there wasn't a draft...let a lot of people off the hook and they didn't get involved." So, essentially, young people either support a liberal agenda or they simply don't care?

The conversation between Redford and Sawyer oddly seemed to skirt around what the film is actually about. (The plot is rather involved, but it includes a liberal professor who tries to "inspire" his students. Other storylines see two of those students ending up fighting in Afghanistan and a presidential candidate who is giving information to a journalist, played by Meryl Streep.) However, both Redford and Sawyer tried to portray the movie as simply posing questions. In a tease for the segment, Sawyer proclaimed, "And it is a powerful new work about questions, not necessarily answers, but very potent questions." A few minutes later, she described "Lions For Lambs" as a search for "questions and the consequences." Redford claimed he wanted to "knock something aside right off the bat. It's not about the war. It's not about Iraq." Despite these denials, the movie is clearly a liberal argument against the current efforts in the Middle East. Sawyer skirted this issue when she paraphrased the film's title. She wondered, "And are the real lions fighting for lambs in air-conditioned offices, making decisions?" It should also be noted, as already pointed out by Newsmax, that the screenwriter on the project, Matthew Michael Carnahan, is a former intern for the Clinton White House.

At the end of the piece, Sawyer alerted GMA viewers that Redford, plus fellow co-stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep would return later in the week to promote the film again. It appears as though this upcoming segment will see Sawyer, on behalf of the mainstream media, accepting attacks for not being liberal enough. She teased, "We're going to tackle [the issues raised in the movie], as I say, including the journalist as windsocks who blow with the wind."

Tuesday's example certainly isn't the first time GMA gushed over Redford. In May, weatherman, and liberal environmental activist Sam Champion, swooned over the "Hollywood legend" who is saving the planet through his green agenda.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:44am on November 6, follows:

8:30am tease

DIANE SAWYER: Oh, how many lives we've lived with him on screen. Robert Redford. We remember 'The Way We Were,' don't we? As we say good morning, America, again to you. I'm Diane Sawyer. He is back. And of course, he is back now. He is directing his first film in seven years. And it is a powerful new work about questions, not necessarily answers, but very potent questions. And he's going to get a chance to tell us what 'Lions for Lambs' means coming up.

8:44am

SAWYER: This morning, a rare occasion, a great one for us. Robert Redford, here with us, live in our studio. On Friday, "Lions for Lambs" opens in theaters. He is both in front of and behind the camera. With him there in front of the camera, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise. A provocative film about questions and the consequences. And it's good to have you here. You like getting up in the morning do you?

ROBERT REDFORD: Thank you, Diane. Do I like getting up? No, I'm an honest man.

SAWYER: I'm not going to be honest. 'Cause I get up every morning.

REDFORD: You sure do.

SAWYER: First film directing in seven years?

REDFORD: Yeah. I don't know why that seems puzzling to some people. For me, it hasn't been so much. It's a question of finding the project you want to do, trying to have a life, and having other things you have to do, like Sundance. This one, this one was something special that came at the right time and hit me just right.

SAWYER: Asking your questions?

REDFORD: Well, what -- yeah, exactly. And, I hope, questions for most Americans. But what I would say about it, I'd like to knock something aside right off the bat. It's not about the war. It's not about Iraq. It's really about a broader look at how the last few years and the policies of the last few years have had consequences, have had effects and consequences on three specific areas of our society: The relationship between the media and Congress. Young people and the relationship with young people and education and the role that they're going to play or not play in a very crucial time. And then the part of the war, the military is just a snapshot of, of two men fighting for what they believe is right in a war that was designed by leaders. And you can decide whether or not how faulty you think that is and the consequences. But the point is, that we're so isolated from these guys fighting over there. It deals with how we become isolated from real sacrifice.

SAWYER: And are the real lions fighting for lambs in air-conditioned offices, making decisions? I want to play a clip, because you play a college professor. Talking to a college student and trying to insight, inspire, enjoin him to meet his life, his real life and his life of caring about what's going on in the world. Here's a clip from "Lions For Lambs."

[clip from "Lions For Lambs"]

COLLEGE STUDENT: You're sounding a hell of a lot like my parents. They're always harping on how they're giving me a better life then I ever had. And then they resent me because I got the nerve to enjoy it.

ROBERT REDFORD'S CHARACTER: If all your rants about Congress and politics are true, Todd, if things are really bad, as bad as you say they are how can you enjoy the good life? The problem is not with the problem that started this. They're past irredeemable. The problem is with us, with all of us who do nothing, who just fiddle, who try to maneuver around the edges of the flame. And I'll tell you something, there are people out there, day after day, all over the world, fighting to make the world better.

COLLEGE STUDENT: You think it's better to try fail then failing to try, right?

REDFORD: Yeah.

COLLEGE STUDENT: But what is the difference if you end up in the same place?

REDFORD: At least you did something.

[Clip ends]

SAWYER: You've been touring colleges. Is it true? Are they not awake out there? Are they waking up? What's the difference? What's it going to take?

REDFORD: You know -- No, I don't think that's entirely true. I think it was for a while because apathy and cynicism have played such a role in young people's minds. They haven't voted. As you see in the film, there's an attitude that they think is justified because they're actually insulted by the behavior of leaders so why should they get involved? The counterpoint is if you don't, we're going to have a continuation of those leaders and it will just get worse. So, the film really does put questions to the students. I mean, it's really about the future and young people and the role they're going to play or not play. And the question goes to the audience. The film really doesn't try to deliver answers. That's agit-propaganda. It's really about asking questions that we should have been asking, in those three, all of us in the last -- but when I was on campus tours, I was really surprised. You can't say black and white. You can't say, well, all students are apathetic and all congressmen are bad -- although there's no question --

SAWYER: You're about to?

REDFORD: -- and all journalists are asleep. No. But the fact was, I sensed that maybe the pendulum is beginning to swing back. You know, the fact that there wasn't a draft, I think, let a lot of people off the hook and they didn't get involved.

SAWYER: You're going to be coming back and talking more with Meryl and with Tom Cruise about some of the things in the movie. But I have to ask you before we take a break today. You say that you don't think about age at all. Long career, but you don't think about age at all. Now, you're talking to me here. Really, you don't?

REDFORD: Let's not compare. You win hands down. I don't think about age.

SAWYER: Really?

REDFORD: But I have to deal with it sometimes because somebody brings it up.

SAWYER: They don't. They wouldn't have the nerve.

REDFORD: Oh, yeah. They do in print. They say, 'Well, he's aged' or, 'Gee, wrinkles' or what have you. No, I don't think about it. I just don't think about it.

SAWYER: But you always said you don't like to watch yourself. And yet when you direct yourself, you're watching dailies all day long, watching yourself. How do you accommodate those two things?

REDFORD: Just suffer. Just suffer. I give a lot to my industry.

SAWYER: I would be there with my paint brush thing, you know, painting out everything could I paint out.

REDFORD: You know, I think you totally believe you just let yourself be who you are, even when you age. They do it in Europe well. For some reason, cosmetics has become such a huge part of American life, that's the way it is, but I don't care about it.

SAWYER: Well, again, what you do care out, of course, is the questions raised in this. We're going to tackle them, as I say, including the journalist as windsocks who blow with the wind.

REDFORD: I didn't write that, you know.

SAWYER: But you're go answer for it.

REDFORD: Yes, I'd be happy to.

SAWYER: And that will being coming up in the next few days. "Lions for Lambs" opens in theaters on Friday. And we'll have more with Robert Redford and Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep in the days ahead.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org