Hollywood actor and radio talk show host Sean Astin disagrees with USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page, who called the Obama administration “more restrictive” to the press than any other in history.
Astin is best known for playing the title role in the film Rudy and Sam Gamgee in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He currently hosts Vox Populi, a political radio show.
“Was she [Page] alive during the Bush administration? I’m not convinced. I don’t know how you compare those two. The Bush administration was pretty restrictive,” Astin told PJ Media after an event on Monday hosted by the National Press Club’s Young Members Committee.
“That’s her job – she knows how to do it. You know what, if she’s saying it, then there must be a reason for it. I would love to read that article and see it because basically, my instinct about it is – and now I’ve learned not to lead with my instincts – but I think that is ludicrous,” he also said.
The White House is “more restrictive” and “more dangerous” to the press than any other administration to date, Page said on Oct. 25 at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, according to the Washington Post.
The Post pointed out that Nina Pham, the Texas nurse that finished her Ebola treatment at the National Institutes of Health, recently visited the White House but print reporters and TV cameras were shut out.
During his speech at the National Press Club event, Astin told the audience that the state of journalism is “not so strong” at the moment.
“I really didn’t think I would come here and do this but really what I’m doing is saying that the state of journalism as I’m experiencing it – not so strong right now, I’m sorry, I hate to be the one to report it but I’ll notice when I get in an interview and somebody – even people who are assigned the subject matter who would really rather be covering the Pope or some substantive newsmaker or some kind of bonafide, interesting, socially concrete interview or story – but they get assigned to me for whatever reason and they take their job seriously,” Astin said.
“They prepare and they show up and end up providing something to their outlet – that’s a little bit different. It’s so nice. I love being interviewed by guys or girls who write books at the same time. It’s something about their thinking at that point that just makes it fun.”
Astin served as the civilian aide to the secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration and was also a member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation under former President George W. Bush.
Astin was asked what drives him to host a political show after his success in other areas like film. In his answer, Astin cited his work as a civilian aide and alluded to running for public office in the future.
“On one level, that’s my work, that’s my art, I know that, I understand that and it’s totally insulated and protected from anything else. Then, I’ve got my life. I want to be mayor. I want to be congressman. I want to be president. I want to fix things. I want to be a teacher,” Astin said.
“I think I have a skill set that is underutilized and kind of underappreciated and could satisfy and fill in on my part a gap that exists and it’s the ability to communicate effectively, to operate with passion and to create value; that’s what my Dad used to always say.”
Astin said it is “really hard” to know exactly where you’re creating value sometimes.
“When it comes to reading somebody’s book and then asking questions about it, knowing that you’re providing a gateway into the experience of that book that somebody might not have, they might not know about the book,” Astin said. “They might not feel compelled to read it but I’m excited about it and I can interview somebody about it. My enthusiasm is creating value for somebody.”
Astin also said he feels like he has “bought a seat at the influencer’s table,” since he is well-known based on his work in the film industry.
“I may not be able to win a hand but I’m going to sit down and play because it’s my God-given natural and constitutional protected right to try,” he said.