Tim Robbins NAB 2008 Abyss Transcript: ‘There could be money to be made in appealing to our better selves’

MON APR 14 2008 — Tim Robbins was the Keynote Speaker at National Association of Broadcaster. Here is the audio transcript of the last six minutes of his speech that some say NAB didn’t want us to hear.

Well I had prepared a speech, but I don’t believe I’m going to be doing it … um …
probably I guess you’ll be able to read it at some later date in another technology
Now the irony is not lost on me on that.


In all seriousness folks let’s face it we are at an abyss
as an industry and as a country
and I know that saying we are at an abyss isn’t the stuff of keynote addresses
but all sarcasm and irony and rude pithiness aside,
we are at a critical juncture in this nation’s history
This is a nation divided and reeling from betrayal and economic hardship
and you, the broadcasters of this great nation have a tremendous power
and a tremendous potential to affect change
You have the power to turn this country away from cynicism
You have the power to turn this country away from the hatred and the divisive dialogue that has rendered such a corrosive effect on our body politic
You can lift us up into a more enlightened age or  
you can hide behind that old adage ‘I’m just a business man … I provide what the audience wants.
Well I’m here to tell you that we don’t need to look at the car crash
we don’t need to live off the pain and the humiliation of the unfortunate
we don’t need to celebrate our pornographic obsession with celebrity culture
We are better than that  [applause]
Some of you are trying … some of you are inspiring people [laughter] towards altrusim and compassion with your programming
Some of you are trying to lift the civic dialog into a more responsible and adult arena
But I know you do so at the odds of ratings and job security
It is really up to the leaders in this room …
it is up to you — the scions of this industry, to leave behind forumulas and focus groups and your own fears of job security … only with your courage and your vision can we begin to imagine a world of broadcasting where the general consensus of those with real power say ‘enough is enough’
Now is the time to move away from our lesser selves
Now is the time to stop making money on the misfortunes of others and the purient and salacious desires of the public
Now is the time to admit and recognize that we aren’t just businessmen, but the guardians of the human spirit with a responsibility to the health of this nation.
That we can lift this  country up with our programming.
That instead of catering to the gossips, and the scolds, and the voyeurs,
we can appeal to the better nature in our audience — the better nature of what this country is all about.
This is a country filled with people of great compassion and tremendous generosity.
This is a country that has survived dust bowls, and depressions, that united to defeat Hitler and fascism and communism.
we are resilient people and a tenacious people … and we are ready for change.
And we are ready to imagine a new broadcasting industry aesthetic, that respecting the better nature of the American people that produces shows that promote strength instead of fear. That does not divide, but inspires. That does not promote hate, but unity. That will not tear the weak down, but build up their strength.
Imagine a world of broadcasting where the American people are encouraged to reject despair and distrust.
And when they turn their TV’s and radio’s off at night and go to sleep, they possess strength and unity and compassion for those they disagree with.
That’s not out of the question … You can make that happen.
It will be difficult … and will fly in the face of conventional wisdom and standard operational procedure.
Do we have any choice? The road we are on is leading us to a corruption to our former selves. We are better than that. You can help us reclaim our better nature. Our perfect union. It isn’t necessarily a matter of country before profit. Or of patriotism and truth before personal comfort. There could be money to be made in appealing to our better selves. [murmur and laughter]
Wouldn’t that be great.
And if there isn’t and we came out of it a little less rich but more unified and healthier as a nation, wouldn’t that be something we could all be proud of.
Thank you.

The six-minute transcript was taken after Robbins ((with colorful language) criticized media consolidation, chided conservative talk radio and blasted the Bush administration’s Iraqi war policies. He also gave 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.

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