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  • Robert De Niro, one of the nation's most iconic actors at age 80, is being snubbed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in a blatant political move that reveals a shocking truth.

    Robert De Niro is under attack by right-wing sycophants of Donald Trump. (Photo: Georges Biard)

    Robert De Niro, one of the nation’s most iconic actors at age 80, is being snubbed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in a blatant political move that reveals a shocking truth.

    Hard-right broadcasting companies have built a lock on the NAB through a near monopoly of local television stations, and they are using them to promote Donald Trump’s hard-right views.

    De Niro was slated to receive the NAB Leadership Foundation’s “Service to America Award”,” but the organization rescinded the honor after De Niro’s appearance at the Trump criminal trial in New York City, The Hill confirmed.

    The blatant reaction to De Niro’s political views — not his charity work — is a gross violation of the First Amendment, a tenet you would think the NAB would vigorously support.

    Instead, it’s engaging in censorship.

    While the organization represents over eight thousand television and radio stations, nationwide, its Board of Directors has become captive to two of the largest right-wing networks in the nation — Fox Corp and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox monolith is well-known for seeding its broadcasts and commentaries with right-wing conspiracies and disinformation to promote Trump.

    Fox was infamously forced to pay $787 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems. It accused the network of repeatedly promoting false claims about the 2020 presidential election. Fox is still facing several similar lawsuits.

    But Sinclair’s track record makes Fox look like a paragon of virtue. The way it spreads right-wing propaganda is far more odious and sinister because of the how it operates.

    The company was founded by Julian Sinclair Smith in the late 1950s. Ironically, he received a taxpayer-financed grant (equivalent to $271,400 today) to build an FM radio station in Baltimore.

    From there, Sinclair Broadcasts Group has systematically bought local radio and television stations Today, it is the second largest U.S. station owner with 193 outlets across the country in over 100 markets (covering 40% of American households).

    Sinclair differs from Fox by branding. While Fox local affiliates are clearly identified, Sinclair owns Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates as well as MyNetworkTV, and The CW. In effect, it’s ownership is masked.

    Many of those stations are in key markets, including Washington, D..C. where it owns ABC affiliate. WJLA-TV.

    During the Trump administration, Sinclair made its boldest move yet, a play for 215 stations across the country owned by Tribune Media. It flirted with a virtual monopoly on broadcast outlets, but the move infamously imploded.

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped in because of three investigations into Sinclair’s business practices. The FCC ultimately fined the company $48 million, the largest penalty in its history and blocked the merger.

    Last year, Sinclair began another odious practice; it ended all local news broadcasts on stations in five markets: Gainesville, Florida; Sioux City, Iowa;  Omaha, Nebraska; Toledo, Ohio; and Medford, Oregon. 

    Instead, it’s providing news in those cities from a centralized news outlet called News Central. It provides prepackaged news segments to several group stations.

    It also seeds local stations with its own news reports through a show titled The National Desk.

    Sinclair’s and Fox’s media conglomerations give it unprecedented influence in the NAB to promote its right-wing agendas.

    Significantly, Sinclair is intertwined with Trump. It hired his campaign manger Boris Epshteyn, and mandates that local stations run pro-Trump commentaries

    One of its anchors claimed he was “getting ready to ram a hot poker up Parkland shooting survivor and activist David Hogg’s ass,”

    In contrast, De Niro has been all over television the past several years telling anyone who’d listen what he thinks of Trump.

    Yet, as soon as he joins forces with the Biden campaign, and appears outside Trump’s Manhattan trial, suddenly, he’s “political?”

    Surely, he must’ve been notified months ago of this award? Are we to believe NAB’s Board of Directors just realized De Niro is a Trump hater? Gimme a break.

    The NAB claims its event is “proudly bipartisan, uniting those from across the political spectrum.”

    In reality, Sinclair and Fox have backed Trump, despite his conviction on all 34 counts in his hush money trial; his repeated attacks on the justice system, and his attempt to seize power through an insurrection.

    NAB’s action betrays the legacies of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, who set the standard for objectivity and a dedication to the truth in broadcasting.

    The NAB needs to wake up and smell the swastika. The time for political correctness disappeared the moment 147 Republicans voted to side with the architect of the Insurrection and attempted to overturn a democratic election. Probably even before that.

    The NAB also claims their goal is to “maintain the focus on the award winners.”

    Do they think, by kicking arguably the greatest actor of all-time out of their dinner, and rescinding his award, they’re keeping that focus? 

    Here’s another head-scratcher for you:

    If the NAB is so concerned with “‘”unity,” “neutrality,” and “political correctness,” why, then, are the Fox and Sinclair, who’ve shown more than a little bias toward the Right, allowed to dominate the board?

    Shouldn’t their board only be made up of networks who’ve shown complete fairness, and not had to pay billions of dollars in fines for falsely reporting the news?  #Crickets

    What do these smug defenders of our nation’s broadcasters think will be the first thing to go on the first day of the next Trump administration? Give you a hint, it rhymes with “Freedom of the Press.

    Thus, by publicly denouncing De Niro for using his right to free speech to help defend our democracy from those trying to destroying it, the NAB indirectly notched a win for these miscreants.

    In doing so, it bring us one step closer to that reality.

    I saw the revival of the musical, Cabaret, the other night. More than a few of us walked out wondering, “Is it 1934, or 2024?”

    There is no difference. Not when those entrusted with reporting the news decide it’s in their own best interest to keep quiet. Are you listening, Washington Post

    Our news organizations’ lack of courage to speak out -or worse, their incessant attempts at normalizing it, no doubt, play a major role in why we are where we are.

    Case in Point: When execs at NBC News thought it was a good idea to bring Trump toadie, Ronna McDaniel, to MSNBC, it was their own anchors, in an unprecedented, on-air mutiny, who put a stop to it.

    Had they not done so, you can bet McDaniel would’ve been sitting there today, alongside Rachel Maddow, talking about how the Biden DOJ’ didn’t give her old boss a fair shake. 

    Incidentally, in the six weeks since their public shaming, not a single NBC/Universal exec has been fired for their part in this fiasco. 

    A few months back, I co-authored a piece entitled, The Media Isn’t Part of the Problem, It IS the Problem, which focused on outlets like Yahoo News’ continued shameless capitulation to Fox News by happily propagating its lies, on its front page, to its millions of readers, day in/day out, in exchange for clicks.

    Meta, Youtube and X have all done more than their fare share of spreading disinformation, and continue to do so, despite repeated protests.

    Sadly, the National Association of Broadcasters have proved they are no different.

    By the simple act of rescinding an award for one of the most prominent actors of our time — an award to reportedly recognize excellence — they are suppressing free speech and making a mockery of the First Amendment solely for political reasons.

    Perhaps the best, and most hypocritical part of this award is actually called the Service to America award.

    I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better service to America, at this point, than using your fame to stand up in Lady Liberty’s defense. If only there were more like you, Mr. De Niro, perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are. 

    The image in this story is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.