Will McAvoy’s monologue from The Newsroom Episode 3
Thought I would post the moving and wish-it-were-true moment that was Will McAvoy’s (Jeff Daniels’) monologue at the beginning of Season 1, Episode 3 of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. The photo above is from the Every Four Years exhibit at The Newseum in Washington, DC.
I might get around to posting a longer blog on the topic of The Newsroom and the discussion by other writers around whether the show is anti-feminist (I disagree) but for the moment, let me say how important I think a show like this is now, in this current journalistic climate, given Sorkin’s heady idealism and optimism; and let me say also how incredibly it pushes the envelope in its blurring of the lines between fiction and non-fiction, in its treatment of real-world recent news stories. I love it.
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“Good evening. I’m Will McAvoy, this is News Night, and that was a clip of Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism chief to George W. Bush, testifying before Congress on March 24th, 2004.
Americans like that moment. I like that moment. Adults should hold themselves accountable for failure. And so tonight, I’m beginning this newscast by joining Mr Clarke in apologising to the American people for our failure. The failure of this program during the time I’ve been in charge of it to successfully inform and educate the American electorate.
Let me be clear that I don’t apologise on behalf of all broadcast journalists, nor do all broadcast journalists owe an apology. I speak for myself. I was an accomplice to a slow and repeated and unacknowledged and unamended trainwreck of failures that have brought us to now.
I’m a leader in an industry that miscalled election results, hyped up terror scares, ginned up controversy, and failed to report on tectonic shifts in our country; from the collapse of the financial system to the truths about how strong we are to the dangers we actually face. I’m a leader in an industry that misdirected your attention with the dexterity of Harry Houdini, while sending hundreds of thousands of our bravest young men and women off to war without due diligence.
The reason we failed isn’t a mystery. We took a dive for the ratings. In the infancy of mass communications, the Columbus and Magellan of broadcast journalism, William Paley and David Sarnoff, went down to Washington to cut a deal with Congress: Congress would allow the fledgling networks free use of tax-payer owned airwaves in exchange for one public service.
That public service would be one hour of airtime set aside every night for informational broadcasting, or what we now call the evening news. Congress, unable to anticipate the enormous capacity television would have to deliver consumers to advertisers, failed to include in its deal the one requirement that would have changed our national discourse immeasurably and for the better.
Congress forgot to add that under no circumstances could there be paid advertising during informational broadcasting.
They forgot to say that tax-payers will give you the airwaves for free, and for twenty-three hours a day you should make a profit but for one hour a night, you work for us. And now those network newscasts, anchored through history by honest-to-God newsmen with names like Murrow, and Reasoner, and Huntley, and Brinkley, and Buckley, and Cronkite, and Rather, and Russert; now they have to compete with the likes of me – a cable anchor who’s in the exact same business as the producers of Jersey Shore.
And that business was good to us; but News Night’s quitting that business right now.
It might come as a surprise to you that some of history’s greatest American journalists are working right now: exceptional minds with years of experience and an unshakeable devotion to reporting the news. These voices are a small minority now, and they don’t stand a chance against the circus when the circus comes to town; they’re overmatched.
I’m quitting the circus. Switching teams. I’m going with the guys who are getting creamed. I’m moved they still think they can win, and I hope they can teach me a thing or two.
From this moment on, we’ll be deciding what goes on our air and how it’s presented to you based on the simple truth that nothing is more important to a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
We’ll endeavour to put information in a broader context, because we know that very little news is born at the moment it comes across our wire. We’ll be the champion of facts, and the mortal enemy of innuendo, speculation, hyperbole and nonsense. We’re not waiters in a restaurant, serving you the stories you asked for just the way you like them prepared; nor are we computers, dispensing only the facts – because news is only useful in the context of humanity. I’ll make no effort to subdue my personal opinions; I will make every effort to expose you to informed opinions that are different from my own.
You may ask, who are we to make these decisions? We are MacKenzie McHale and myself. Ms McHale is our Executive Producer. She marshalls the resources of over a hundred reporters, producers, analysts and technicians and her credentials are readily available. I’m News Night’s Managing Editor and make the final decision on everything seen and heard on this program.
Who are we to make these decisions? We’re the media elite.
We’ll be back after this with the news.”
A rant against my former favourite, now anti-feminist Offspring
My love for you knew no bounds.
I first watched you on the night of your premiere from a sharehouse in Central Coast New South Wales where I was working 16 hour days on a sprint-to-the-finish election campaign. I was drawn to you by friends declaring that the main character reminded them of me - because I am blonde and live in Melbourne’s inner north and am neurotic and have a tendency toward flippy dippy layers.
I fell in love with your hapless neurotic romantic heroine and her exceptional ensemble of actor friends and rushed home weekly to watch their exploits. I valiantly defended #teamchris on various online fora. I adorned my flat with owls and adopted a stray cat (okay, that wasn’t totally Offspring-induced, but hear me out). I dragged visiting friends to Brunswick Street to point out the 7-Eleven where Nina and Chris bought hotdogs, and to sit on the mosaic seat like they did, or on the fern-bowered bench where Zara told Jimmy she was pregnant, outside the cafe where Nina told Darcy that Cherie was having his baby. I maniacally hunted down maxi-skirts online and built a wardrobe full of vintage blazers and kimonos and multi-coloured scarves. I wore knee-high brown boots daily throughout last Winter and this.
I am sitting here writing this wearing knee-high brown boots. I am also wearing blue jeans, a vintage blazer and a scarf. I am the archetypal inner-North wannabe Nina.
I am also wearing a t-shirt bearing Hillary Clinton’s face super-imposed on to a picture of Rosie the Riveter. And herein lies my problem.
For our love affair is dying, Offspring, and every feeling I ever had for you is disappearing so rapidly it is making me dizzy (as Nina would say, if she were, say, breaking up with somebody).
Offspring, I am a feminist. I thought you were too.
In your first two seasons, you were funny and independent and you pushed the envelope in comparison to what we were used to seeing on Channel 10. Your writing was witty and realistic and your Nina was human and real. She was an independent, educated woman with a top-notch job, a beautiful flat and a wardrobe to die for.
In comparison, I must confess I had a Twitter coronary last night as you repeatedly bashed me over the head with an anti-feminist agenda so blatant that I continue to yell sporadically throughout the following day at Facebook posts delighting over the finale.
Populist, you may be. Feminist, you are no more.
Let’s review. A doctor - an obstetrician, no less - inexplicably failing to use regular birth control, and having a one-night stand with an ex, an addict who is drunk, a subsequent accidental pregnancy - this is NOT a band-aid to a failed relationship. Implying that it is, is, yes, anti-feminist, and it sends a dangerous message to the hordes of young women who watch the show.
I am repeatedly stricken by what your fans, Offspring, are prepared to overlook in concession to physical attractiveness. The plaintive cries of “but, he’s HOT!” on social media every time Patrick is yet again
broodingly charming emotionally stilted. And no, it’s not cute and funny when your ex sabotages your new relationship by coming over to your house drunk, bashing into your door, dislocating his shoulder and swearing at your date - it’s actually really goddamn creepy, not a little stalkerish, and somewhat abusive.
In contrast, the date in question, the Adam character, was supportive and understanding, and apparently quite similar to Nina in many aspects, and socially aware. He was willing to overlook her threatening and slightly crazed ex-boyfriend and brought her home-made soup. He would have brought an interesting dimension to the plot and been, oh, less horrible to Nina than Patrick. But everybody on Facebook poo-hooed his looks - because apparently that’s all that matters.
It is also suspending all good sense and reason to suppose that an obstetrician would not be regularly using birth control. This is not cute or ditzy. It is actually downright implausible, and quite significantly irresponsible; and implying that accidental pregnancies are always easy, welcome, readily greeted by the ex-boyfriend - or the mother - and are a fix-it to a bad relationship, is poor writing and poor social conscience. Hey, so guess what. Young Australian women and men should be learning about how to plan their families and how to be responsible about their sexual choices. Abortion is still a criminal offence in every Australian State and Territory except for Victoria and the ACT, so we should probably avoid unwanted pregnancy where possible, right?
And yes, I must admit that a part of me did secretly hold the hope, deep down inside (okay, so publicly) that YOU would be the show to push that envelope and bring up abortion in a prime-time commercial slot.
So yes, I am disappointed, indeed I am thumping-the-table outraged, Offspring, by your suddenly populist, cookie-cutter, anti-feminist approach to writing, and I am increasingly unsure of how to differentiate you from Neighbours. And I hear that you have been renewed for two further seasons, and I can assure you that if I do tune back in, it will be purely in the abject hope that the bizarre-o costumed birthday party scene and the pregnancy were all a whacky dream - surely that possibility was left open?
Oh, and, of course, for the clothes.
I will leave you with this question. What is it exactly that is healthy about the Nina-Patrick relationship? What part of their partnership is emotionally or personally fulfilling to her? At what point in Season 3 have we seen this relationship at its best? Because let’s all be honest with ourselves - it does reach a point where we have to throw aside physical attraction and a desire to save damaged men, and instead think about balance, self-respect and the possibility that we might just be better off independent.
P.S. Offspring: you are also totally overlooking possibly Australia’s most talented actress, Deborah Mailman, in an increasingly abandoned role, but I mention that purely as an aside.
P.P.S. Whatever DID happen to the cat? I thought Zara adopted it. My CJ and I want to know.
New York City: Days 1 and 2
Coming to you live from The Jane, New York City!
I’ve been holding off on posting in the hope that I could provide some photos and make this more interesting than a big word-fest. Alas, I seem to have not brought some mysterious cord required to transfer photos from camera to computer, and the wireless in my hotel is playing games with my phone that make uploading photos difficult. It’s an ongoing goal and I promise I’ll get a few more pics up than the random few that have so far made it to Instagram (see those on my Twitter).
Obviously I’ve been super-busy living it up in New York. The flight over went surprisingly quickly and I wasn’t hit too badly with jet lag (although I did have to hit the sack pretty early after my first full day). The Jane, where I am staying, is a deadset win - the rooms are tiny but that was expected, but that aside they are just my brand of kitsch and the location is to die.
I’ve hit New York at the same time as a friend, Ben and his mate Sean, so we’re all staying together at The Jane and in Washington, DC in a few days, and generally being touristy together. On my first day here we did all the downtown tourist hotspots - we started with the 9/11 Memorial, the effect of which was ruined a little by gargantuan queues and crowds. We then did a self-guided walking tour of the financial district and Wall Street, followed by a more-healthy-than-is-traditionally-American salad lunch (Sean particularly enjoyed his salad - #injokealert). Then off on the boat to the Statue of Liberty, which was fabulous and very large. On the way back we stumbled quite by chance across Magnolia Bakery, which is a few blocks from my hotel, and so the boys quickly made a confused run for it as I stood in line to buy banana pudding and a cupcake. Magnolia Bakery banana pudding is pretty much the best sweet thing you could ever possibly eat, no really, I’m not joking. Not far up the road was Carrie’s front door, which I dutifully made the pilgrimage to.
Later that night we set off on a twilight sail along the Hudson River to see the city lights, which would have been gorgeous had the weather not decided to hate on us - I kidded that I brought the chaotic wind and pelting rain with me from Melbourne. We did meet two lovely girls who, like my travel buddies, were from Perth and we ended up having dinner with them at a quite swish Italian place local to the hotel named Barbuto. By the time that was through I had hit the proverbial wall and left it to the boys and their new friends to hit the town.
Day Two I ventured out on my own to explore Central Park, which was of course gorgeous. I spent much of my walk trying to ascertain which bridge was the bridge that featured in Enchanted and ended up taking photos of about three bridges just in case. Sadly couldn’t find the carousel anywhere (directionless) and so missed that opportunity, but the Park was lovely otherwise. Meandered up to The Met and spent a few hours checking out their American Wing and the Egyption exhibit they have on at the moment. Then it was off for pics of a few classic movie locations - The Plaza (“Your girl is lovely, Hubbel” - both the The Way We Were and the SATC version) and Tiffany’s (Breakfast, etc.). The poor woman I accosted to take a photo of me at Tiffany’s had no idea what I meant by wanting a side shot, looking in the window in the style of Audrey and so I ended up with a dull front-on shot.
Then it was off to Times Square to line up for cheap Broadway tickets where we managed to score seats for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for myself, the boys and our new friend Tara - OMG WTF AYG SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!!! Indeed, Tara and I were so excited that we went a bit nuts at Sephora (the people at Benefit were justifiably delighted). I also grabbed my customary drumsticks from Hard Rock Cafe - a collection I started on my travels many years ago, which can be traced back to a certain connection with drummers… or one drummer in particular.
Finally, it was home to quickly get changed and then back to Times Square for Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Being the theatre-file of the group, I had picked and so the pressure was on - but Phantom is a reliable choice for boys not accustomed to musicals because of its visual grandeur and rock-esque edge, and it came through, with one of the boys vowing to track down its sequel, recommend it to all those coming to New York and humming it all the way home. For my part, it was exquisite, but it’s also lovely to be able to go anywhere in the world and know that still, nobody will hold a candle to our Warlow.
So it’s home with a cupcake dinner and computer for me. Tomorrow is vintage shopping day (although not too much shopping after my Sephora attack today!) and Monday I’m volunteering with Democratic candidate, Grace Meng in Queens. It’s all happening in NYC.
Ultimate Femo Hack-tastic Trip: 3 sleeps to go…
Not long now before I board the plane for New York on Thursday. I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you all know what my plans are for the U.S. trip before I kick off the official travel blog.
I’ll be leaving Melbourne on Thursday morning and arriving in New York Thursday evening around 9.30pm, with a few stops in between. New York has been on the must-visit list for me ever since I became obsessed with Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sex and the City about seven years back, so much of the five nights and four full days I will be spending there will be taken up by touristing and hitting the vintage shops - where I won’t be able to afford a thing, but will be sharing the same space Rachel Zoe has frequented, and that’s worth something. I’m still hoping to be spending a day volunteering for a Democratic Congressional candidate while I’m there but they are yet to finalise details with me so will keep you posted.
Then it’s off to Washington DC for four nights, where on my first day I will be joining the sisters at EMILY’s List U.S. to check out their Communications Department (they have a whole Department!) and generally pretending I am C.J. Cregg. On my third day in DC I’ll be meeting with the Women’s Media Centre to hear about their work and chat about how the campaign has been covered. Whilst I’m only looking at Australian political campaigns in my PhD, it’s still of interest to see how it’s done overseas, particularly with the impact that feminist politics is having in this Presidential campaign. I’ll also be visiting the Newseum and the standard DC tourist sites.
Final stop is New Haven, Connecticut for
pretending to be Rory Gilmore meeting Josh Lyman The Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. Former housemates will attest to the fact that I’ve been waiting several years to apply for this amazing opportunity and with an election on this year, the timing was too good to pass up. I’m super-thrilled to have been accepted and am looking forward to a full-on, inspiring, tiring week of learning lots that I can bring back to Australia and use at work and on future campaigns. I think I’m going to meet some amazing people.
So fingers crossed the technology holds out - because goodness knows my phone provider hasn’t stacked up against previous international encounters - otherwise I’ll be running to the nearest Starbucks to keep you all up-to-date.
Now to try and narrow down the number of books I’m packing…
And don’t make me say it again.
Last night, I logged on to my computer prepared to write a long and ranty blog post about the fact that a small but vocal handful of individuals are reportedly spreading misinformation about my position on a woman’s right to choose.
I have since abandoned the ranty version of this post, partly because my more self-indulgent writings have, in the past, made me go back and cringe, and partly because I do not believe it is healthy to lend validation to people and claims that are ridiculous.
Therefore, I present purely the facts and the history.
I would hold the truth on this matter to be self-evident.
I work for a women’s organisation that holds at its core a belief in a woman’s right to choose. Prior to being employed by that organisation, I chose to be a paid member for over three years. I was endorsed by that organisation when I ran for office and signed a binding agreement at that time stating my support for their position on choice.
Not to mention my academic work in the field of Gender Studies or my writing in that field.
At a series of elections I have chosen to work only for women candidates in some of the most marginal seats in the country based solely on their local performance and their ability to impact the overall result. I have funded my own travel costs and taken time off work in order to do so. Each of these women has been an exceptional local voice on community and party issues and that has been the basis behind my decision to volunteer for them. They are also lovely and beautiful individuals and I respect their right to choose, on occasion, to hold different views to me – and they have respected my right to do the same, and have been supportive of me in various fora. I would work for any of them again.
As far back as 2005, when I was co-hosting a feminist radio program that I created with two friends – the first of its genre on SYN 90.7 – I aired my views (respectfully) on a woman’s right to choose when I conducted an interview with a representative from Family Planning Victoria, and Margaret Tighe from Right to Life. On our website (and I can’t believe I’m posting a link to it because it’s OMG WTF so outdated and embarrassing and I was so tragic and still living in Werribee and in that brief period of studying teaching and let’s please never talk about it again ARGH) I described myself as getting on my soapbox over the abortion “debate” because, to my mind, it was ludicrous that the legality of a woman’s right to choose was still being discussed.
Not long after I took up the position of Executive Producer of The Naughty Rude Show, an award-winning sex and relationships discussion program where the hosts discussed not just abortion but sexual health, women’s safety and everything in between.
My voting record on this topic speaks for itself. I have voted in favour of a woman’s right to choose as a delegate to Victorian Young Labor and Australian Young Labor conferences. As National Women’s Officer in 2011, I made sweeping amendments to the policy of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations to update references to access to safe and affordable abortion for postgraduate students. I was quoted in the media last year advocating for safe access to gynaecological and obstetric services for Queensland international students who were being denied it.
In the interest of full disclosure, on one occasion, at the National Union of Students’ Special General Meeting in early 2010, I voted against a policy that had been raised that I believed was poorly formed and where the relevance to students was not made clear. It was not a comment on the content of the policy – I supported it – but on the forum in which it was raised. I had voted on all other pro-choice policies raised at NUS. I have, however been consistent in stating that I would not support at the National Union of Students, when I was involved at that level, and will not now support at the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, policies that do not clearly and directly address the manner in which they impact on students. Otherwise these organisations take on a political leaning and alienate students who pay good money toward the operation of campus and national student representative bodies.
Anybody who claims that I am anything other than pro-choice has been particularly blinkered in their way of looking at things and has based their argument on the sole fact that I was once – and am no longer – a member of the same faction as a handful of people who have a different opinion on this topic to me. If you were to ask any of these people now they would tell you that they know me to have a different stance to them, have approached me to vote with them on this topic and have been refused.
I will state now categorically that I am pro-choice, have always been pro-choice, have no faith-based or familial reason not to be pro-choice, and I hope that I will not be called upon to make clarification on that point again.
It remains of great chagrin to me that there are women in the world who claim to be feminists, yet who attempt to bring other women down. Spreading falsehoods about an active and vocal feminist whose work takes place within the field is, to my mind, unusually bizarre and unnecessary.
Furthermore, it is hurtful because these women do not know what I know about my own personal reproductive health, and should know better than to make assumptions.
I have never shied away from voicing my opinion on this, or any number of topics. In future, if people would like to know my position on anything, I would hope they would ask rather than taking to spreading baseless rumours.