Armond White writes for National Review Online about the sad decline of a once-respected actor.

By now, we should be accustomed to seeing favorite performers betray us, risking years of good will and fond memories to express petulant political bias and empty promises. (“I’ll leave America if . . . ”) But the utter disgrace that actor Robert De Niro has made of himself — through profane and irrational outbursts against President Trump and American civility — hurts deeper than most.

Moviegoers have loved De Niro because of his many performances detailing the panoply of American lives — Hi, Mom!; Mean Streets; Taxi Driver; New York, New York; The Deer Hunter; Awakenings; Raging Bull; The King of Comedy; The Fan;, Stanley and Iris; Jackknife; We’re No Angels; Night and the City; Midnight Run; Cape Fear; The Mission; GoodFellas; City by the Sea; A Bronx Tale; Flawless; Mad Dog and Glory; Being Flynn; Dirty Grandpa. This isn’t just a filmography, it’s a national cultural biography. Although De Niro comes from a privileged bohemian background, his film roles personified working-class essence and vernacular.

So why would De Niro transform himself from a great actor — and artist—into a crisis actor? Using his gifts to promote demagoguery and political manipulation impaired his ability to shift mercurial common-man handsomeness into urban sociopathy — against all artistic compassion. He sank to the pits of selling out — lower than those European careerists Arletty and Maurice Chevalier, who risked their reputations by collaborating with the Nazis during the years of France’s occupation in World War II. Yet at least they always entertained.

We used to assume that De Niro was our guy because his performances indicated that he understood our deepest feelings. … But De Niro’s attempt at playing agent provocateur stumbled badly: His decision to stand outside the New York Trump trial cost the actor his credibility.