Jeff Daniels Rants About Why America Isn’t The Greatest Country In The World On ‘The Newsroom’ (VIDEO)

Aaron Sorkin’s new show, The Newsroom, premiered on HBO last night. The show is about a fictional cable news channel and it stars Jeff Daniels as a news anchor, alongside an ensemble cast that includes Olivia Munn and Sam Waterston.

As you would expect, the show made a splash and it’s all become of the writing. Sorkin is a bit of a legend when it comes to writing dialogue and last night’s episode contained a scene that may go down as one of Sorkin’s best.

The scene featured Jeff Daniels’ character, Will McAvoy, answering the question of what makes America the greatest country on earth. At first he’s reluctant to give a real answer, but he eventually opens up and goes on a pretty big rant. Take a look at the scene:

To some, this monologue may be overwritten, cheesy and downright pretentious. Some, particularly the ultra-patriotic, may find it offensive. Others are hailing it as a brutally honest and accurate take on the delusions of grandeur many American’s display.

What are you thoughts on this scene?

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23 Responses to Jeff Daniels Rants About Why America Isn’t The Greatest Country In The World On ‘The Newsroom’ (VIDEO)

  1. Honora Price says:

    A brilliant monologue brilliantly delivered. It should be required viewing in every journalism, writing, government, civics, American history and acting class. If I were a teacher I’d assign a paper on it & make it 50% of the grade for the year. One of the best moments ever on a TV show.

    • Well, it was good up until he mentioned Yosemite. After that Sorkin sold out and started reeling off the tautological mythologies about the US. Most of which have been particularly engrained in the psyche of US citizens since the end of the Civil War and the start of the industrial media propaganda machine. The US never fought for “what was right”, nor did it fight for “moral reason”. Since its very inception, it always has fought for empire, period. And don’t you dare mention slavery. Read a book called Worse than Slavery”, and even though the book pulls some punches in my opinion, it does give a fairly decent overview of what happened in the political aftermath of Reconstruction.

      Sorkin furthermore states that “We (sic) passed laws and struck down laws for “moral reason” Really? Um, should I even mention the Dred Scott case? How about the 13th amendment which did not make slavery illegal, but in fact criminalized Africans as a people, which is still in effect today. One can see this in the massive incarceration rate to which thankfully Sorkin did refer.

      “We waged war on poverty not poor people.” Damn, this one actually made my jaw drop. I guess if we choose to accept Orwellian double-speak, then that makes the policy congruent with the name of the initiative which inspired it.

      ***History break****

      The “War on Poverty” was a concession to the civil rights movement in order to effectively extinguish the movement by allowing poor African-Americans to participate in the government welfare programs that had previously been prohibited them due to the American apartheid system, commonly known as segregation. It was quickly reversed and undermined, and was effectively dismantled under Bill Clinton. So how can he say that the “War on Poverty” (even if we accept the Orwellian language) was an instance of the past greatness of the US? It was a plainly a sham, and just a cursory glance at domestic economic policy and politics in the 45 years since it was declared would show anyone as “smart” as Sorkin this fact. I mean, come on!

      I won’t even respond to the rest of the “rant” because they just seem to me like warmed-over jingoistic platitudes which are being fed to nation in preparation for a huge reduction in the standard of living.

      • We fought against the Nazi threat in WW 2 for moral reasons snd to defend ourselves. We fought in Korea and Vietnam for moral reasons.

  2. To be honest, after watching this video whoever wrote this script is absolutely right. 100% of the way, America needed to hear this, they needs to wake up, get informed stop believe in stupid shit and get together and work harder they have become the cultural laughing stock. at one point in time people would love to go to America to live, now it seems that people would rather go elsewhere. “Lets go to america it’s got plenty of jobs and great future” The land of milk and honey has become the land of Sour clumped up bureaucratic centralist egocentric pin heads i hope this TV show goes far! and i pray that for the rest of the worlds sake the united states pulls there heads out from the dirt and gets to work! your all about leading the world into the 21st century! please please any time now we are waiting. Normally when you say your going to lead someone you move forward not backwards? right or was i educated wrong?

  3. I actually laughed when he said the line “We didn’t scare so easily.” First of all, it was a poorly delivered line. And second of all, WHO didn’t scare so easily? You mean the previous generations of America? Like the ones who put Japanese-American citizens into internment camps cuz they worried they were a threat to national security?
    And you think a little pat-down at the TSA qualifies as “scaring too easily?”
    Ha, our generation has your generation beat.

    • Dave Kelley says:

      Clearly, we are far more easily frightened today with the advent of the 24-7 of our propagandists cable networks which parade as news. Let’s face the inconvenient facts. In World War II we faced the Third Reich and the Japanese Empire. Neither group had rejected modernity. They had planes, ships, artillery and superb scientists and we faced the possibility that we might actually lose. Yet, I can confidently say that my father who was a naval officer in the Pacific did not wake up in a puddle of urine each morning from fear. Contrast that to today where we face an “enemy” who owns no airplanes, ships or even artillery pieces — unless they steal them. We are encouraged to worry about the “terrorists” who have zero chance to militarily defeat us 24-7 by a military-industrial-congressional complex which financially thrives on our nightmares. Your chances or drowning are far greater than dying from a terrorist threat let alone the real chance of dying from cancer. But the remote chance of dying from a “terrorist” dries up the money for far better, productive lives in this country. All generations in this and other countries have been propagandized but the ability to manufacture consent in this society has become far more a science — to our detriment. We are clearly too easily frightened by shadows. We have fifteen 9-11s each year because of a lack of national health care but we still focus on the murders of 9-11 while ignoring the 165 9-11s since then to the uninsured (45,000 a year dying because of a lack of Canada-style Medicare for All).. Every time we say “we are the greatest” it removes the responsibility to reflect on our actions and engages in mind-numbing triumphalism. Why think when we can cheer. We have so much to cheer about in America. Why not mix in some self examination and reflection now and then?

      • Bill the Psychologist says:

        Dave Kelley, Excellent, excellent post. I said to friends when I first heard first mention of a Dept of Homeland Security, that we have much more to fear from our own govt than from a bunch of terrorists.
        Our founders knew that, and every breach of civil liberties since 9/11 has proved them right.

  4. It’s true, it’s sad and it can be fixed. Remember the “Boston Tea Party”? That was a battle against the multi-national British East India Company! The multi-national corporations were the enemy in 1776 and they are the enemy now! Americans have forgotten where we came from and why we booted the redcoats (and specifically the British East India Tea Company) out of our country. Probably because we are 7th in literacy and 22nd in Science behind countries that value educating their citizens, not putting them 100K in debt. GE, the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch and other corporatists have all done their part to pass propaganda off as news. America is not the greatest country any longer because of misinformation from corporate news sources. Happy fourth of July America, history repeats itself.

  5. Stephen Behm says:

    I like this, not just because it shines a light on where America can do better, but because it shines a light on the fact that America CAN do better! The people of this country have had the misfortune of blatantly bias news media and corporate sponsored information that any intellectual information able to sift through the bullshit comes with an asterisk. Romney can’t do this, Obama can’t do that….It doesn’t matter. There is simply too much special interest with too much money and too much power in this country for the primordial good to filter through, and in the meantime there is polarization occurring in an effort to keep us at odds to ensure nothing gets done that is in the best interest of this country. The two party system is a sham predicated on American’s ideas that a difference will be made by voting for someone else… won’t. and your delusional if you think it will. Obamacare is Romneycare. The bush tax cuts have been steadfast during Obama’s administration. The senseless war on drugs will continue, as well as unnecessary war in far east nations, where war is the money-generating premise as opposed to the actual defeat of an enemy combatant. Obama, Romney, who cares. This country was let out of our hands when we decided only two parties were going to have a say in how things were done, WE screwed up….and we’ll pay for it! We need an election to vote FOR someone! This election is either Pro-Obama vs. Anti-Obama, sorry, but I feel like your lying if you say for yoting FOR Romeny…..odds are your voting against Obama, and you would if Santorum, Gingrich, Huntsman, or Cain would’ve gotten in. This country is falling apart, and we are mostly to blame, more so than the party you don’t agree with! There is no righteous way only two parties can differ on so many issues, they need each other to provide the meat of the other, and if they were to lose that, we might have a real election… can only dream!

  6. This is only half true. The true part is that we are NOT the greatest country in the world and never have been. The untrue half is the truth that the ranter is overlooking regarding our real past and what it means. We committed genocide against the native Americans, we enslaved Africans, we were brought to civil rights for women and blacks and other minorities kicking and screaming. We have been engaged since WWII, especially in recent decades, in destroying every social gain we made in the interests of wealth, white males, and austerity. The pernicious ideology of the right is a religion in America. The constitution is not the greatest in the world. It was designed by oligarchs, for oligarchs. The only thing that saves it is the Bill of Rights, which we are intent on destroying. Madison thought the elites would be wise enough to care for those below them. He was wrong. We worship money. We have contempt for the so-called weak, the poor, women, “minorities.” We are cruel, even sadistic. We can’t even make a TV show and tell the truth and when we come near it we set up the two women to be the target of our ire rather than the real culprits. The radical right is poised to put the last nails in the coffin of democracy and liberalism aided by the leadership of the Democratic party, and we are standing by and letting it happen. We are deluded by propaganda from the elites with respect to capitalism and so much else. We are not a shining city on a hill, that is not possible, but if enough human beings were decent enough we could give it a try. We are seduced by capitalism, nationalism, militarism, racism, misogyny, and religion. America is a selfish country. It is the country of the hustler. Americans have always been hustlers. The house we built is falling down upon us now because we have not taken care of the land and its peoples. Our elites have suckered us and we were willing to be suckered. Whites are into the politics of resentment which the elites have fostered. Liberalism refused to fight for the people and those of us who did fight and are fighting are constantly in danger of defeat and suppression by the government. Our successive governments have killed over 15 million abroad since WWII and millions more maimed, displaced, with lasting environmental and genetic damage done due to our weaponry. We are fighting wars on most of the world’s continents. We actually used atomic weapons on other human beings and still feel no shame for it. The suppression of the Occupy movement and much else should have opened our eyes, but still most cannot see. They are ignorant and our government, our media, and our institutions have fostered that ignorance. Our greatness, rather our infamy, is in our delusion and authoritarianism. We have killed millions of our own through war here and abroad and continue to make war. We are the greatest warriors the world has ever known, the greatest arms dealer, and definitely the greatest hypocrites. War and business are the business of America. To hell with the rest of the world and our own people. We are now heading toward the greatest police state in history and environmental catastrophe due to global warming, which we are ignoring in favor of doing all the things that will hasten it. That is our distinction. We are engaged in radical evil with only disaster and tragedy in wait.

  7. Slavery, Jim Crow, kill and steal from the Indians, invade other nations, wimmpy safety net—I don’t know why Jeff Daniels sentimentalizes the past. Nationalism seems to require people to think they are better and different from other people. That is dangerous to do. Adam Hochsfied has World War I slides, one of German soldiers getting on a train with “On to Paris” written on the side. The other slide of French soldiers getting on a train with “On to Berlin” written on its side. When will we ever learn.

    • Well said! I can’t belive many of the people who are lauding this monologue are letting Sorkin get away with those omissions.

  8. William Hunter Duncan says:


    Which sentimental period of American history is he talking about? The period of the extermination of the natives and slavery, or the period of the rise of industrial oligarchs, or the period of the rise of financial plutocrats, or the full on imperialism following the second world war? He’s right, were not the greatest country, only the richest, most powerful. Facing collapse, of a kind Sorkin dare not imagine or even hint at. But this sort of stern talk passes for literacy these days, the hottest thing around. Which only goes to show the depravity to which we have sunk. Go ahead, think this is astute language Sorkin and Daniels deploy here. It won’t cost you anything.

    • Actually, this type of stuff is exactly what we need.
      And you’re quasi-intellectual gibberish shows how retarded you really are. We are not the richest country by far. Because we went off the gold standard, we are one of the poorest, with the illusion of being the richest.
      Let me guess, you’re Pro-Obama and you think he will someday do something good for this country?
      Get a clue. Admire the piece for what it is. Basically a Hollywood breakthrough away from their insanely loud, and unfortunately Idolized, stupid people.

  9. the “ultra-patriotic”may find it offensive? maybe you mean “ultra-close minded” instead. I believe Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the good ole suggestion of a revolution every 20 years. maybe I’m wrong, but I think most able-minded american people would consider him a patriot.

  10. Not only was the scene right, and well written, but Jeff Daniels did a great delivery.
    As a Marine, I see this country in decline, and the college kids getting dumber and dumber by being taught by these socialist teachers, each year. As week as this crap sense of entitlement and “White Guilt”. Schools are teaching Anti-White sentiment. And white people take it or are called racist.
    It’s the ignorance that got Obama elected, and it’s the ignorance that will continue to drag this country into collapse. And the Media are leading the way as they dumb everyone down.
    I only wish that Hollywood wasn’t so socialist-leaning, because we could get more great writing like this. But, this country doesn’t generally employ smart actors, or writers, or directors.
    Additionally, why is it okay that Matt Damon gets $20 million for a movie, or Derrick Jeter for hitting a ball, while this country demonizes Corporate Executives who are high paid to keep people employed?
    It’s because this country has gotten sick. And it’s embarrassing
    I was in the Middle East and an Iraqi asked me laughingly if it was true that American pay $50+ for new jeans that are pre-ripped. I was ashamed.

  11. No commenters seem aware that this speech is getting the liberal slant to the public in the guise of a conservative speaker, Daniels’ character McAvoy. Sorkin made this character conservative and McAvoy/Daniels has to sound like a conservative, hence the references to the conservative “we used to be” claptrap. McAvoy/Daniels has to put liberals down, to sound like a proper conservative — but the msg Sorkin is getting across is, WE ARE NOT THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. We are too greedy now! We are waging a war on the poor! I applaud Sorkin for cleverly getting the liberal message across — which is the truth — so cleverly that conservatives began sending this video around. They LOVE that it says ‘Liberals are losers’…. and their glee over that statement clouds their minds to the actual message of the speech. Cool on you, Sorkin!

  12. ivo stefano says:

    It feels nice if an American tells the truth about America as the USA is definitely not
    the greatest Country but many Americans believe this as they grow up like this , the parents
    have told them ,the Teachers, the Sportcoach and so they got brainwashed. Hope the US
    Citizien will be more skeptical in the future about their country. Only if they see their mistakes
    they can correct it. Also no nation has the right to say they are the greatest as many countries have good and bad. Maybe 50 years ago the USA was a great country and freedom exist, now their is no freedom ,no humanity and definitely not a human justice system. I am not American but my wife and children are , but I am ashamed that they are…

  13. Does consumerism (capitalism) really work,
    in the end? When “one” mortgages “his ” future
    to the tune of $ 17,000,000,000,000—
    wherein lies the future? Do the math!!
    And stop bickering over other issues!!
    It would take ONE HUNDRED YEARS at
    $170,000,000,000 per tear to “balance” the budget!
    Our “honorable” politicians, and our stupid, gullible citizens have destroyed America!!