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Today Show Goes Dark On Tim Robbins

by Sarin Deputy Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 3:48 AM

A conversation about free speech. An anchor asking reasonable questions. A guest responding in equally reasonable tones. No attempt to close out the discussion - to say "Well thank you Tim". This was not a filibuster. Robbins was not hogging the spotlight. Someone in the control room simply decided that it was time to pull the plug.

Today Show Goes Dark On Tim Robbins

Today Show Goes Dark On Tim Robbins

By Steve Rosenbaum, A NYC television producer

4-19-3

At 8:15 Monday Morning Today Show host Mat Lauer introduced the controversy that has been kicked up by the cancellation of the 15th anniversary of Bull Durham at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

In a letter made public on Wednesday - Dale Petroskey, the President of the Hall suggested that his venue was not the appropriate venue for a highly charged political expression.

 

Lauer then introduced Tim Robbins, who along with his wife Susan Sarandon, had had their initiations revoked. Lauer quizzed Robbins on free speech, and pointedly asked Robbins if he had planned to use the Hall of Fame event as a platform for a political statement. Robbins said 'of course not.'

 

The discussion went back in forth for a few minutes, with Lauer being neither accommodating nor confrontational. And Robbins' responses were equally measured. But Robbins did end up saying things that have hardly been heard before since the war began. "The message is if you speak out against this administration you can and will be punished" Robbins explained.

 

"We're sending out messages on an almost daily basis that they have no right to protest against this President" said Robbins. To which Lauer responded with a question about the Dixie Chicks and their controversial comments against the President. Robbins responded - pointing to the fact that the protest and banning of the Dixie Chicks was by Clear Channel Radio and it's connection with the Bush Administration. This conversation was unheard of in the current environment.

 

Robins was talking serious politics on a morning chat show - and clearly hackles went up. By 8:24 Robins was explaining "We're fighting for freedom for the Iraqi people right now so that they can have freedom of speech, yet we're telling our own citizens they have to be quiet"

 

Lauer could have called it quits there -but he went on "When you see pictures of Iraqi's dancing and celebrating -does it change your mind?" "No" Said Robbins - "I'm ecstatic that they feel this freedom, I hope we have the resolve to get in there and make it work."

 

It was at this point that something happened that has perhaps never happened before in the history of morning television.

 

The music swelled under Robbins... Mid-sentence answering a question that had been asked just 10 seconds earlier... "We have a terrible track record" said Robbins, clearly not able to hear that music was coming up to literally 'play him off the stage'.

 

The camera cut to a wide shot. Lauer was leaning in and very much in conversation. Either Lauer was ignoring what must have been the deluge of invectives in his earpiece, or he just determined that he wasn't finished with this line of questioning.

 

But the music ended. The bumper music ended and the studio was in the two shot as Robbins said..."It's for some reason not in our best interest to keep it going and pursue it to the next level." Lauer nodded, and the camera faded to black as Robbins - mid sentence - had his microphone turned down.

 

A conversation about free speech. An anchor asking reasonable questions. A guest responding in equally reasonable tones. No attempt to close out the discussion - to say "Well thank you Tim". This was not a filibuster. Robbins was not hogging the spotlight.

 

Someone in the control room simply decided that it was time to pull the plug. And without grace or ceremony, or even the face saving of letting Lauer say "We're out of time" as morning shows do on so many occasions.

 

A conversation about free speech and free expression was cut off mid sentence as the network went to black.

 

Television history was made, as million of Americans got to watch in real time just how powerful and inescapable censorship can be. Robbins wasn't revealing troop locations, or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Remember the war has been won - by all accounts. He was discussing freedom, free speech, and why his appearance has been canceled at the Baseball Hall of Fame. NBC should invite him back and let him finish his thought - or admit at least who was on the phone to master control demanding that they pull the plug.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Free Speech Fred Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 11:36 AM
Please note... Diogenes Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 12:56 PM
He's right, ya know Triogenes Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 1:39 PM
ridiculous fresca Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 1:51 PM
fresca... Diogenes Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 2:54 PM
the spirit of the first amendment... johnk Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 4:42 PM
After all... Diogenes Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 8:56 PM
sideliners bill b. Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 10:06 PM
For Christ's sake Dio... fresca Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 2:11 AM
The vast right wing conspiracy fred Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 2:22 AM
My Take on Rush Limbaugh occasional writer Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 3:34 PM
BA occasional writer Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 6:33 PM
BA occasional writer Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 6:35 PM
In other words....... Pete Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 6:40 PM
occasional writer olvie Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 7:01 PM
Worth the Risk Meyer London Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 7:25 PM
Diogenes...come on, really. Brian Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 7:53 PM
Memo to Brian FOX NEWS Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 7:57 PM
good points pete...but fred Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 8:41 PM
London fred Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 8:48 PM
To Brian Diogenes Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 10:09 PM
capitalism and freedom Meyer London Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 1:04 PM
Reply to "the smoking man"(X files) aka-Diogenes Brian Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 1:06 PM
Brian Sean Hannity Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 1:35 PM
Dear Brian lancer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 1:55 PM
Meyer London daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 1:59 PM
lancer daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:07 PM
weapons Meyer London Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:10 PM
In other words, daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:12 PM
davemoron Tommy Frankfurter Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:14 PM
I wear desert boots, daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:18 PM
I just wanna... daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:19 PM
daveman, seek professional help occasional writer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:21 PM
sick Meyer London Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:32 PM
That's right daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 2:35 PM
ML/ow daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 3:06 PM
wow occasional writer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:02 PM
I did not post... daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:08 PM
daveman fake occasional writer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:13 PM
Fake occasional writer post above The REAL occasional writer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:18 PM
fake occasional writer daveman Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:21 PM
occasional writer ow Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:24 PM
London Fred Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:25 PM
ow (Simple Simon) Bush Admirer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:27 PM
occasional writer ow Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:32 PM
ow (Simple Simon) Bush Admirer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:34 PM
accasional writer (Diogenes) the REAL occasional writer Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 4:37 PM
Reply to Lancer Brian Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 7:32 PM
Memo to Brian FOX NEWS Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 7:33 PM
Reply to FOX news Brian Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003 at 7:40 PM
Bully Bully Bully Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 12:14 PM
I hate them coloreds! John Rocker Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 1:49 PM

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