Jeff Daniels’ Opening Monologue in “The Newsroom” 8 Years Later

I recently remembered this iconic opening scene from Jeff Daniels in the first episode of HBO’s “The Newsroom”. Sharing it seems appropriate at this time.

Aaron Sorkin is an incredible screenwriter/director/producer and most everyone has enjoyed his movies from A Few Good Men to Moneyball to The Social Network to Molly’s Game.

He also wrote the TV show The Newsroom. I’m not going to say this is the best show I’ve ever seen but I think it’s worth a watch, especially while many people are still quasi-quarantining and social distancing. It’s something that could gauge interest if you’re into seeing worldly events from a news anchors’ perspective.

But this monologue is what I want to focus on. The declaration the the United States is no longer the greatest country in the world. This was said back in 2012 and it has always kind of stuck in the back of my head even if I do believe that we are #1.

Looking at the facts it’s hard to disagree completely with what he says.

Initially, yes, our constitution is a masterpiece, James Madison was a genius, and the Declaration of Independence is a beautiful piece of literature. Then the speech takes a dark turn.

He takes pointed, political stances against both the liberal and conservative counterparts and it not only pokes holes in their overarching points but speaks to the entire ideology all together. What these actors initially said was not really wrong, but it’s important we realize that these liberties and freedoms are not entirely exclusive to the US anymore so it’s time we end the complacency.

8 years after this debut, the OECD now ranks the USA as 13th in literacy, 37th in math, and 18th in science. 2 of these 3 are worse than what we were when this aired. These are just facts. Our education system is simply not establishing global results that are adequate to our rivals. For reference, China is first in every category. And for those who care Russia is behind us on all these metrics.

Then, we are 46th in life expectancy, with an average age of about 79. We are 172nd in infant mortality out of 227. Gallup has us ranked 6th in median household income, as of 2013. We are still 4th in labor force. And lastly we have improved to 2nd in exports. Again, these are just facts that we need to take into consideration when we look in the mirror as a nation.

We still lead the world in number of incarcerated citizens per capita and defense spending. I did not look into how many people still believe angels are real. And our defense spending is more than the next 10 top spending countries combined. That is staggering.

Regardless of political views you can’t dispute these numbers. These are just statements of fact that we need to understand as we continue forward in this exceptionally historical time. It’s time to stop fighting and start working together to really “make America great again”.

Start building each other up through education and wealth creation and not tearing each other down based on petty ideas or identifications.

Daniels’ character talks points of inspiration and looking at our rich history, not just the dark part. Use our ancestors as an example to move our nation forward.

It’s time we come together and create distinct goals to prove American excellence. Regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. We need leadership, we need goals, and we need execution.

Facts shouldn’t scare people. They should be used to tell and direct a story towards a desired outcome. It’s up to our leaders to bring us to that outcome, so let’s get to work.


@jacklesser_ & @thoughtless44

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