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Read This: It Is About News, It Is About America, and It Is Important

Television fiction holds up a mirror to reality. Do you like what you see?

It is not often that you will read me espousing a point of view in this space. But today is different.

I'm asking you -- no, I'm pleading with you -- to pick up a newspaper or two today. Tune  to broadcast news. Google beyond the major headlines. And yes, devour any of the more than 850 Patch sites across the nation.

If you haven't seen the first episode of HBO's The Newsroom, you must. [Update: HBO has now made the show available online at itsh.bo/LLps4r.]   Not just because screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and I each have degrees from Syracuse University. And not just because lead actor Jeff Daniels and I share the same surname. (We're not related.)

All the soap opera aspects of the plot aside, you need to see it for the power and importance of the following speech by Jeff Daniels who plays a news anchor being questioned by a college student who asks: "What makes America the world's greatest country?"

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.

Enough?

With Independence Day approaching, it is time to rethink America. Not rethink left/right politics, but America.

In the words of John McCain's campaign theme: "Country First."

With newspapers failing, network TV ratings falling, and Internet sites flailing,  what are each of us going to do to become more informed every day and turn around this ship of state?

Please join the conversation and share your thoughts about America in the comments box below.

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warren stone June 25, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Great show, in the West Wing vain. It will be a hit.
Pam Cole June 25, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I still think America is the greatest country in the world. There's no complicated formula behind it, I just ask myself "would I rather live in the UK?," "In France?," in Spain?," and I keep going down the list. No, if given the money and opportunity to live elsewhere, this country would still be my first choice. Even if things were worse here, this is where my people are. This is my culture. We tend to not think of ourselves as having a culture, but we do. I love America, and I love my fellow Americans. It sounds sappy, but it's true. But I whole-heartedly agree that "Country first," is the motto all politicians should stand by. I think we all wish that our politicians put the needs of the people above the support for their party.
Jo July 02, 2012 at 12:55 PM
50 percent of Americans do not "invest" in American, that is, they do not pay ANY federal income taxes that pay for our defense and interstate highways. We are heading toward European style socialism so pretty soon you will not recognize the America we grew up in. How's the socialized health care working out in Europe, Canada and Australia? Not bad if you have a flea bite, just go bomping into the doctor's office for "free" but if you need open heart surgery, you will be placed on a waiting list. Name a country where socialism works.
monir July 18, 2012 at 11:39 PM
It's great for one to defend ones country, but at the same time, we need to take a close look to what have been said. Is the country straying away from the old ways that made America great? Sometimes ,one has to set back and look at what is happening around us. Not all questioning ,is a bad criticism. our country is heading in a questionable path, and it does not matter who else is heading down that path. If it's wrong, we need to speak out and help to correct it. being defensive, does not do any one any good. Are we in agreement with the financial disaster that have taken place? Are we in agreement with the false and fabricated reasons we have been given to wage those wars? Are we confident of who is behind 9/11? are we confident that our politicians are looking out for us, or for big corporations?
monir July 19, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I admit, I have not seen the show, but I did view Daniel's words on U Tube. Our leaders today are not the same leaders that made this country what it used to be. We are in the front line, and nations and people looked up to us in the past. Not today. We have a huge responsibility as the remaining supper power. We need to behave in the way where people will emulate us and copy us , so we can be proud, and not embarrassed. The best of the worst, is not good enough. America still have many great and honorable people, we cant let the power hungry and GREEDY few lead us.

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