In a 2.8 N.Y. Times column about the late Paddy Chayefsky and Dave Itzkoff‘s “Mad As Hell,” a sweeping tale of the genesis and making of Network, Maureen Dowd notes while Chayefsky “warned against ‘comicalizing the news,'” today’s news “has became so diminished that young people [have] turned to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to learn about what was going on in the world.”
In my mind Robert Kane Pappas‘ Orwell Rolls In His Grave (’03) was a great sum-upper of its time — a film that stated in no uncertain terms that corporate-owned news divisions (TV news, magazines) had sanded off the edges of the truth for so long that they’d forfeited public trust, and that online was the default place to go for less varnished but more accurate reports about nearly everything.
“Colbert told Itzkoff that Network is his favorite movie,” Dowd writes. “Although Howard Beale is not an inspiration for his bombastic TV alter ego, Colbert said that the Beale character anticipated an attitude those types of broadcasters share, which is ‘I will tell you what to think.’ Beale’s approach, the comic said, was more ‘quasi-benevolent,’ as in ‘I’m going to remind you that you’re being anesthetized right now.’
“If Paddy, who used to say ‘truth is truth,’ could see how far beyond Network we’ve gone, he would not only be mad as hell. He’d be scared as hell.”