Tim Robbins Bashes Rush, O'Reilly; Gets Standing Ovation from NAB

So much for the alleged conservative conglomerate media. Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports leftist actor Tim Robbins drew a standing ovation last week before the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas for attacking the corporate media for distracting the country from real (liberal) issues with Britney and Hasselhoff stories. But Robbins also sneered that "talk radio geniuses" like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly called him a "traitor" for opposing the Iraq war, and now he "stands chastened" as everything in Iraq is a utopia of democracy and prosperity. The magazine did not note that in April 2003, ABC touted Robbins claiming a McCarthyesque "chill wind" of censorship was blowing across America.

Broadcasting & Cable critic David Bianculli was supposed to host Robbins for a Q&A at the convention, but when Robbins said he brought a speech that he was told was too preachy and negative to give, broadcasters yelled that he should give the speech, so he did. Far from being miffed at having his moderator’s role snuffed, Bianculli glowingly recounted the highlights:

And this, as his opener, with even more sarcasm, "apologizing" to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and other right-wing broadcast pundits [He said "To Rush and Sean, and Billo and Savage and Laura what's-her-name."]

"A few years ago they told America that because I had different opinions on the wisdom of going to war, that I was a traitor, a Saddam lover, a terrorist supporter, undermining the troops.

"I was appealing at the time for the inspectors to have more time to find those Weapons of Mass Destruction. I was a naive dupe of left-wing appeasement. And how right they were. If I had known then what I know now, if I had seen the festive and appreciative faces on the streets of Baghdad today, if I had known then what a robust economy we would be in -- the unity of our people, the wildfire of democracy that has spread across the Mideast -- I would never have said those traitorous, unfounded and irresponsible things.

"I stand chastened in the face of the wisdom of the talk radio geniuses, and I apologize for standing in the way of freedom."

It was a speech Variety described approvingly and at length, calling it "laced with wry irony and winking sarcasm." Other reports from those covering the convention, at this writing, characterized it as "electrifying," "a humorous, profanity-laced attack," and "an historic moment." A few people walked out. At the end, the majority of the crowd gave Robbins a standing ovation.

The Huffington Post has the transcript, unsurprisingly, since it is the home of leftist celebrity rambling. Broadcasting & Cable published a long speech snippet on its Opinion page in the April 21 issue, hailing it as a "pointed, often hilarious poke at the state of the media and its propensity for offering consolidated viewpoints."

Robbins, mustering all the conspiracy theory-mongering that about 17 moviegoers remember from his right-wing-satirizing movie Bob Roberts, took on the voice of a supposed corporate suit desperate to squelch all radical (even taxpayer-funded) opinion, like Pacifica Radio:

I propose a much simpler solution. First, erase all diversity. Thankfully the majority of what is broadcast is of two opinions and that feels good. That’s simple. But unfortunately there is a tiny minority out here on the airwaves expressing a different view outside the Democrats-and- Republicans nexus trying to confuse us all. Can we please shut them up? How expensive could it be to buy Pacifica Radio? These people are driving us apart.

Then Robbins mocked sex scandals (his second ersatz recommendation), especially the "absolute zenith of news, the perfect storm, the shining city on the hill in news coverage," the Monica Lewinsky scandal. That’s quite predictable. Then it grew strange again. Apparently, our media want race riots:

Third, find more racially divisive news and play that constantly. As long as we hate each other we never be bothered with this gnawing lefty obsession with information. Let’s make the purpose of the media salacious entertainment, not information. When the nattering nabobs of negativity tell you that the economy is falling apart, that gas costs $4 a gallon, that they are foreclosing on your home, that there is chaos in Iraq, when these propagandists spread this "information," it is our moral responsibility to distract. Show me a starlet without panties getting out of a car and suddenly the world seems like a better place. Show me Knight Rider drunk on the floor eating a hamburger, and I won’t ask why my kid has no health insurance.

Liberalism would be much better implemented in this country if the American people weren't so dumb and easily distracted, in other words. Almost exactly five years before his speech, Robbins was featured by ABC reporter Jim Wooten, as Brent Baker wrote in MRC's Cyber Alert:

  Wooten continued: “A Florida appearance for Sarandon was cancelled as well as a celebration of her and her partner Robbins' film, Bull Durham, at the Baseball Hall of Fame, because the President, who worked in the Reagan White House, decided their views might endanger American troops. He did not explain how."
     Tim Robbins, actor, at the National Press Club on Tuesday: "A chill wind is blowing in this nation."
     Wooten: "In Washington this week, Robbins criticized the political climate in which his right to express his views has come under attack."
     Robbins: "Isn't what we're fighting for there to spread democracy, to give the Iraqis the right to express their opinions in a public forum?"
     Wooten then gave credibility to a ridiculous exaggeration: "All this has reminded some of the McCarthy era's blacklists that barred those even accused of communist sympathies for working in films or on television. And actor Mike Farrell believes it could happen again."
     Mike Farrell: "We know there have been organized attempts to get people fired from their jobs."
     Wooten: "Historian Steven Ross says for showbiz people it's no idle concern."
     Professor Steven Ross, University of Southern California: "Movie stars who get bad publicity who are thought to be unpatriotic are going to be perceived as box office poison."
     Wooten concluded: "The bad publicity is a fact. How the public responds at the box office remains to be seen. Jim Wooten, ABC News, Washington."

Baker also provided a list of examples of wild-eyed statements from Robbins and other leftist celebs in that item. You can tell the media is liberal when the leftists denounce them, and the media offers them air time, print space, and standing ovations.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis