The National Association of Broadcasters may regret asking Tim Robbins to give the keynote address at its annual gathering in Las Vegas yesterday. In a calling to account matched only by Stephen Colbert’s White House Correspondents Dinner speech in satire and sarcasm, the actor took it to the NAB for obsessing over the latest celebrity sex scandal, subscribing to narrow viewpoints and, in the case of radio broadcasters, adhering to a "national playlist" of music.
He launched into an apology to conservative talkers Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly "and Laura whatshername," noting that all had labeled him traitorous or unpatriotic for having called for more time to be given to U.N. weapons inspectors before deploying military force against Iraq.
"They said I was a dupe of left-wing appeasement ... and how right they were," Robbins quipped. "Had I known then of all the smiling faces" that now populate Iraq, "the wildfire of democracy that is spreading throughout the Middle East," he would not have spoken as he did, he said.
He added that he can see now that his words were indeed "traitorous, unfounded and irresponsible, so I apologize to the talkradio geniuses."
Robbins also took on the issue of media consolidation – in front of a crowd that supports it:
The fun started to get uncomfortable when Robbins referred to both the Reagan and Clinton administrations having eased limitations on media ownership -- all to the "benefit" of communities, which then no longer had to listen to diverse, complex opinions "or alternative rock." NAB has supported relaxing ownership rules.
He ended nicely with an appeal to the broadcasters to help turn the nation away from cynicism, to act as "guardians of the human spirit".
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