The film, about The Washington Post’s decision in 1971 to cover the secretive Pentagon Papers as publisher Katharine Graham was taking the company public in a male-dominated business, arrives at a watershed moment. The country is reckoning with sexual assault and harassment allegations from women in every corner of society, from politics and business to Hollywood and the media.
But before he invited up Streep, De Niro kept intense, profanity-tuned focus on Trump, who has also faced sexual misconduct allegations. “This f‑‑‑ing idiot is the president. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. The guy is a f‑‑‑ing fool,” De Niro said. “Our baby in chief.”
The actor then briefly turned his attack to the “petty, vindictive” President Richard Nixon and his efforts to stop the New York Times and The Post from publishing the secret study of the Vietnam War. The Times was the first outlet to cover the study, and a battle over freedom to publish public-interest stories culminated in a Supreme Court decision in favor of the newspapers.
De Niro has been one of the most vocal and profane critics of Trump. The actor appeared in an October 2016 video made to encourage people to vote in the impending presidential election. In less than 60 seconds, he called Trump “a dog,” “a pig,” “a con,” “a [BS] artist … who doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and “an idiot.”
And if that wasn’t enough: “He talks [about] how he wants to punch people in the face? Well, I’d like to punch him in the face.”
But on Tuesday, De Niro eventually got back on track to congratulate Streep, who starred alongside him in “The Deer Hunter,” the 1978 Oscar-winning film, and urged others to view Graham through the modern movement of women’s rights.
“Kate Graham was forced into a man’s world and showed the world and showed all those men something about the qualities of daring and devotion to public service, qualities that were then thought of as male. No longer,” he said, and added he was “fighting” to get equal pay for women in Hollywood.
The issue has drawn attention as a consistent problem in the industry, despite women creating and leading some of the most profitable and acclaimed work in 2017, such as Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Godot, the new “Star Wars” trilogy (directed by men) featuring Daisy Ridley as a Jedi apprentice, and Greta Gerwig’s lauded film “Lady Bird,” a strong contender for an Oscar run this year after Gerwig claimed the directing prize Tuesday night. Though as Natalie Portman pointed out at the Globes, the ‘all-male’ nominee list did not include any women.
The upcoming Academy Awards broadcast is likely to drive prominence to a new equality-focused campaign. Producer Shonda Rhimes and actresses Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone and Natalie Portman spearheaded the Time’s Up initiative to combat sexual harassment, with a focus outside Hollywood, where working-class women have less of a platform to be heard.
Women and some men sported “Time’s Up” lapel pins at Sunday’s Golden Globes, though De Niro did not appear to wear one on Tuesday.