11:44pm PT by Chris Gardner
Jeffrey Katzenberg Blasts "Bully" Donald Trump: "Toxic, Abusive, Despicable Message"
Jeffrey Katzenberg never mentioned Donald Trump by name on Friday night from the podium during the GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles, but everyone in the Beverly Wilshire ballroom knew who he was talking about.
And the former DreamWorks Animation CEO, a respected philanthropist and longtime supporter of GLSEN, the national education organization that champions LGBT issues in K-12 education, somehow managed to both condemn the Republican nominee for president and keep the focus on the organization and its cause.
Katzenberg, one of the first speakers of the night during a program that saw such A-listers as Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson also take the stage, said that while he and his wife, Marilyn, have long rallied for GLSEN, the cause has "gotten very personal" for the couple this past year.
"We actually have become grandparents," said Katzenberg, noting the birth of his first grandchild after daughter Laura welcomed her first child with husband Mark Sudack, a music producer. "And when we look at Ryan, we are overwhelmed by the sense that we would do absolutely anything to protect this child and keep him safe. And that's what GLSEN is really all about. Why in a way, the folks at GLSEN are every kid's grandparents."
Katzenberg then explained why he thinks the organization's job got more challenging this year, a year that has delivered an especially contentious campaign season marked by multiple accusations of sexual assault by a presidential nominee.
"It's one thing to have to deal with bullying by a child on a play yard; it's something else when the bullying is coming from a candidate for president," he said to loud applause in the room, which was filled to near-capacity. "You know, to be sure, campaigns are supposed to be tough competitions. To some degree, that's OK as long as everyone shows mutual respect, follows the rules and accepts the final outcome."
The latter sentence was met with another round of applause and was a clear nod to Trump's controversial comments in the most recent debate with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, when he said, "I will look at it at the time," after being pressed over whether he would concede the election on Nov. 8 if the numbers aren't in his favor. The shocking declaration was a first for a presidential nominee.
"When this basic civil behavior is flaunted by a supposed grown-up who aspires to be the leader of our nation, its understandable if our children get confused, which is why we need GLSEN more than ever," continued Katzenberg, before adding his most charged rhetoric about Trump. "GLSEN is on the front lines combating the toxic, abusive, despicable message that one man with a mic has been spewing throughout this incredibly painful year. GLSEN offers a voice of reason that connects directly with kids to let them know that they can be better than what they are seeing today on the news. I can't imagine a more important cause to support."
Katzenberg, who was onstage to introduce GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard (and later to present Hudson with her Inspiration Award honor), then put a stamp on his speech by ending it just as he started it, with a mention of his newfound status.
He finished, "Take it from this grandparent."