Tag Archives: HBO

Meta?

16 Jul

ICYMI, Dan Rather is reviewing HBO’s the Newsroom for Gawker

Among the issues dealt with in this episode: The fact that we journalists are reluctant to call lies… lies (and thus seldom if ever do.) How anchor persons deal, and don’t deal, with the celebrity aspects of their jobs. What an ego-centric job anchoring is. Office romances, especially among young staffers. And the dangers of going on the air in the early stages of big, breaking news with early reports and rumors, even when your competition is running hard with them; the gut-checks demanded by the pressure of such situations.

Things I especially liked (and know to be true based on my own experience): How a newsroom springs to life when a big breaking story hits. (The example they used is the Giffords shooting in Arizona.) How it’s nearly always true that some good reporter gets fixated on some “way out” story (The example for this is the “Big Foot” story that won’t die.) The sleepless nights of anchormen (and women), who, if they are any good, have more of them than most people—sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for trivial ones.

The Newsroom: Opening Scene

25 Jun

A new Aaron Sorkin show called the “Newsroom” debuted on HBO Sunday night, and it stars Jeff Daniels as the brash, obnoxious news anchor who’s something of a conflicted diva genius.  The show overall was quite smart and well-written, but the opening scene, featuring Daniels’ character as part of a panel discussion at Northwestern University with generic liberal and generic conservative, was brilliant. 

At one point, a young girl asks the panel why they think America is the greatest country in the world. Daniels demurs, twice, before giving this answer: 

Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about?! Yosemite?!!!

We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.