Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Newsroom: 'America is not the greatest country in the world anymore' speech, Jeff Daniels

The Newsroom is a TV series that only went for 25 episodes from 2012 to 2014. Principally written by Aaron Sorkin, who created The West Wing, it depicts events at a cable news channel with Jeff Daniels as anchor. If you only know Daniels from Dumb and Dumber or Speed, click on the following link for a speech about the US this 4th of July, well worth a look



Following is a transcript of the above speech:

Will 
It's not the greatest country in the world, professor, that's my answer. 

Moderator 
[pause] You're saying— 

Will 
Yes. 

Moderator 
Let's talk about— 

Will 
Fine. [to the liberal panelist] Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paychecks, but he [gesturing to the conservative panelist] gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn't cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin' smart, how come they lose so GODDAM ALWAYS! 

And [to the conservative panelist] with a straight face, you're going to tell students that America's so starspangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom. 

And you—sorority girl—yeah—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. 

Will 
[to moderator] Enough? 

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By the way: 

The following link features Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin discussing Sorkin’s production on Broadway of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, with Jeff Daniels in the role of Atticus Finch: 

The next link has Daniels performing a scene from that production: 




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