Why Talk Radio is “Mad as Hell”


Why is Talk Radio so angry?

And does it remind you of anything? Particularly a certain classic film, released in 1976 and called Network?

You know the one. With the scene featuring a waterlogged anchorman played by Peter Finch, desperately imploring his frustrated viewers to go to their windows, throw them open, and shout at the top of their lungs: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

How is it that the satirical vision of screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky has so effectively “meddled with the primal forces of nature” not only in the TV and cable news business, but also in the business of Talk Radio?

For the answer, I went to the guy who wrote the book.

I’m talking about Dave Itzkoff, author of the terrific new book Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies. The book covers the making of Network and how that movie foretold much of today’s news media landscape, including the contentious, rabble-rousing hot-heads of Talk Radio.

Watch my conversation with Dave about the book, the movie, and the impact the sons and daughters of ranting madman Howard Beale have on our pop cultural zeitgeist today:

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  • raymasssie

    Great job on the interview Mark. It is interesting to me how we romanticize the good old days of three networks and limited voices. I would suggest news has gone the way it has because the audience has driven it that direction. To think that news was or is about just the facts is to miss what news has always been–entertainment. Go back to the yellow journalism era of the turn of the 20th century. History, and dare I say news, is written by the winners from their perspective. A perfect example today is the Crimea/Ukraine story. What do you think the news looks like from the Crimean perspective or Russian perspective today? At its core it is story telling from my lens. Now there are a lot more lenses to develop stories

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