RUSH: Hi. How are you? On the cutting edge, Rush Limbaugh, executing assigned host duties flawlessly, zero mistakes.
How many of you have seen the movie Broadcast News? Snerdley is raising his hand. All right, Mr. Snerdley, do you remember anything about that movie other than Holly Hunter? Do you remember who starred in that movie? (interruption) It was Albert Brooks. If I’ve got the right movie. It was a fantastic James Brooks movie. It’s from 1987, Broadcast News. You might, by the way, if you haven’t seen it, you might want to Netflix it or rent it, whatever, download it.
Here’s what happens. A handsome young TV sports anchor, ambitious but not all that bright, pretty typical of people in the news, gets a promotion. He’s hired to be a national news reporter who, on one of his first assignments, commits what in the past has been an unforgivable ethical breach. Now, keep in mind this is 1987. I’m gonna give you spoiler alert here. Still watch it even though I’m gonna give something away here. This enterprising young local TV sports anchor, ambitious but not all that bright, hired to be a national news reporter, his first assignment commits an unforgivable ethical breach.
He interviews a young woman about her heart-wrenching experience with date rape. Now, don’t get the wrong idea. Date rape was not considered real news when this movie was made. It’s not about that, but I’m just giving you the details here. In the segment — this is the news — in the segment where this enterprising young reporter with his first big national news assignment, in this segment he commits a journalistic no-no. The reporter is shown crying, tearing up as the woman tells her story.
Now, what that does is insert him in the story. I’m mentioning this because Brian Williams said he had to take himself off the news because he has become the news, and I’m here to tell you that that’s a bogus reason to get off the — it’s silly anymore. These people have been making the news about them ever since this movie. But in 1987, it was an ethical breach to make yourself part of the story. It was an ethical breach to have any emotional reaction at all to what you were seeing or to what somebody was telling you. The reporter is shown tearing up. That inserts him in the story. But the ethical breach was not just that. The ethical breach is discovered after the footage airs, because the reporter in the real interview had not cried.
The enterprising new reporter had not teared up. He told the cameraman to roll separate footage to capture him in the act of making himself cry, and they edit that footage in with the footage of the original interview. So he not only inserted himself in the story, he faked his initial reaction to dramatize the moment. Remember, this is an ambitious guy. He’s trying to stand out. He’s trying to get ahead fast. He’s really ambitious. It’s his first big assignment, he’s got this story, woman telling the story about date rape, all during the original interview he didn’t crack a smile, he didn’t crack a frown, he didn’t cry, but afterwards he cried for the camera, in private, and they inserted that in the story.
And it made for great TV news for the viewers in this movie. In the movie the viewers ate it up, my God, the reporter was touched, he was crying. It was all made up, it was BS. He cried after the fact. But in the movie, you love the anchor. He sold his narrative. It may have been a true story, but facts were not allowed to speak for themselves. That’s the point. The facts were not allowed. They had to be embellished. The woman telling her tale of date rape had to be embellished by a reporter inserting himself in the story crying. But he really hadn’t. That was inserted later. And what the hell, who cares if it was true anyway. It was good TV. It was compelling television.
This guy became a huge star right off the bat, more assignments, big ratings bring in much needed revenue. The movie, Broadcast News, made it clear this ethical breach was a journalistic nuclear bomb. Yet at the end of the movie, the reporter who faked the tears was made anchor of the national network. In other words, folks, the movie, Broadcast News, in 1987 is the story of Brian Williams. In one fictitious episode, a date rape victim describing her details, reporter, ambitious young sports anchor getting his first big gig as a national news reporter, nods his head, does all the requisite things, but doesn’t cry. He fakes the tears later, inserts them, much like they altered the 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case. The movie is prescient. It is a must-see to fully appreciate what James Brooks foresaw happening to network news all the way back in the 1980s.
RUSH: Yeah, I think the movie Broadcast News is to journalism what Wag the Dog is to politics. It’s fascinating how prescient James Brooks was back in 1987.
RUSH: We’re gonna start with Jim in Atlanta. Jim, great to have you here on the Rush Limbaugh program. Hello.
CALLER: Rush, my pleasure. Great show today.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: Love everything you have to say.
RUSH: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Really do.
CALLER: That Broadcast News piece that you talked about, that’s prescient in the point that you made. The thing in that movie that really got to me, Holly Hunter is sort of a head strung and knowledgeable newsie who wants to run everything. Right when they’re gonna put William Hurt in the big chair to cover the big event —
RUSH: Yeah, William Hurt. I said Albert Brooks. It’s William Hurt. You’re absolutely right.
CALLER: Yeah, William Hurt was the guy who they’re gonna put in the big chair, and she says he’s not ready. So she corners a network executive, takes him outside and says, Â“Listen, this guy’s nowhere near ready. You can’t put him in there. It’s not gonna work out.Â” And he kind of sneers at her and he says, Â“Well, it must be nice, it must be nice to be right about everything, to know all the answers.Â” And at that point when you’re watching the movie you think she’s gonna break down and say, Â“Oh, well, I don’t really know everything,Â” when in fact she looked him right in the eye and, “No, it’s horrible.” Meaning, she thinks she is right about everything and that’s the way those folks are.
RUSH: Well, I can relate. I do, too, and I’m telling you, it’s a burden. It’s a burden. Don’t jump to too big a conclusion, John, I know you’re talking about them, but it’s a burden being right all the time, people don’t like it.
CALLER: They don’t believe it.
RUSH: People are not impressed by it. They don’t like anybody that sure of themselves. I mean, don’t doubt me on this.
CALLER: Absolutely right.
RUSH: Now you’re talking, in her case, what did the character say in the movie when she was challenged with being right all the time?
CALLER: Well, you expect her to break down and you think she’s going to back off, but she’s the typical liberal type who won’t and she looks him right back and says no, it’s horrible. Basically, yes, I am right all the time, and he’s not ready for the chair and —
RUSH: Well, she was modeled — that character was modeled after a real live person at the time at CBS News named Susan something or other, who —
CALLER: Doesn’t surprise me.
RUSH: — ran the roost over there at the time, and she had a reputation that was pretty much what you say. She was right all the time and you buck her at your risk.
RUSH: But the Holly Hunter character, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t she kind of save the day morally on this? I mean, she knows this guy is an accident waiting to happen, and the executives don’t care about the ethics of it. The executives, all they care about is the numbers and the ratings. They don’t care if the guy’s a fraud or a phony.
CALLER: Certainly true, yeah, absolutely right.
RUSH: And that’s pretty much true today, too, right? And all of the rest of this, about nightly news anchors being these — I don’t know. There’s no way they can measure up to the reputation and the image that these people have. I mean, really what are the qualifications? I don’t like talking this way because it sounds like inter-business jealousy, and it isn’t that. Just I think this whole news business is a game. It isn’t news. So much of it — and this is true about a lot of our culture, not just the news. So much of it’s fakery. I remember J.R. Ewing, when you learn to fake sincerity, you’ve got it made. And that’s basically what we’re talking about with liberalism. When you won the ability to fake compassion and to fake sincerity, you’ve earned it. But these people that create these images and these impressions of people, these anchors, back in the old days, I mean there were only two or three Americans that were capable because of life experiences.
They had been to the hellholes of earth. They had been to the war-torn foxholes. None of that matters to reading the news that is written by other people. None of that really matters. It was required for the resume because of what it meant for the image, but in terms of real qualifications, it’s acting. And the reason — Susan Zirinsky, that’s the name, that’s the name of the person the Holly Hunter character was modeled after, Susan Zirinsky, CBS News. So much of this is just acting, it’s fakery. And the reason this bothers me is look at how many people believe it. Look at how effective all of this is.
The Drive-By Media, the mainstream media has the Republican Party in a state PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder. The Republican Party is literally, the establishment, afraid to do anything for fear of what these people in the media are gonna say about ’em. And who are the people in the media? That’s what we’re discussing here. It’s a quietly disconcerting reminder of how effective all of this fakery and acting can be, and it’s nothing new. I just did it myself. I just cited a total make-believe movie as evidence. It’s the power of that medium, it really is. Jim, I appreciate the call.