Robert De Niro isn’t changing his mind any time soon, especially when it comes to his feelings for President Donald Trump and the current state of the country. At a lunch held this afternoon in celebration of the start of the Tribeca Film Festival, which he co-founded in 2002, De Niro offered some pointed opening remarks to a crowd made up mostly of journalists and other members of the press about Trump.
“America is being run by a mad man,” he told the crowd, before comparing the president to “Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken.” He continued, “When he doesn’t like what he hears, he dismisses it by saying it’s un-American and damning and it’s ‘fake news,’ but we know the truth. All thinking people do know the truth.”
De Niro then specifically addressed the members of the press in the room, pointing to the treatment they’ve been subjected to by a president who has routinely shown a disregard for news items that don’t align with his particular worldview.
“Your job is difficult enough without being attacked by our low-life-in-chief. That’s the new name I have for him,” De Niro said. “The press has done an admirable job this past year, we’re looking at journalists as our saviors, in the same way we used to look at our political leaders.”
The actor also lauded cultural spaces, including the festival, for embracing open-mindness when it comes to diversity and other cultures.
“It’s come to the entertainment and cultural committees to show that we’re open to ideas different than ours,” he said. “That we welcome cultures foreign to us, that we embrace diversity, that we’ll continue to support telling their stories, because ultimately, they’re our stories.”
The actor has long been outspoken when it comes to the president, and his ire shows no sign of flagging. The actor made headlines a month before the 2016 election by declaring that he’d like to punch the future president in the face, and during a speech at the National Board of Review’s gala in January, he declared, “this fucking idiot is our president.”
Last May, while promoting “The Wizard of Lies,” he told IndieWire that “all I do is think of Donald Trump,” just days after he spent part of his acceptance speech for the prestigious Chaplin Award calling out the president’s “bullshit.”
Just last week, as he geared up for the 2018 edition of Tribeca Film Festival, he spoke with IndieWire about his continued ire with the president. “We’re at a point where the things that are happening in our country are so bad and it comes from Trump,” he said. “There are so many people who have left his administration. It’s a serious thing.”
The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 18 – 29.
Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.