American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Network" (1976)

 

Howard Beale Announces his Mission to 'Speak the Truth'

Audio mp3 delivered by Peter Finch

 

Program Director: Cue Announcer

Announcer: The UBS Evening News --

Program Director: Ready 2

Announcer: -- with Howard Beale

Program Director: Take 2, Cue Howard

Beale: Last night, I was awakened from a fitful sleep, shortly after two o'clock in the morning by a shrill, civilant, faceless voice. I couldn't make it out at first in the dark bedroom. And I said, "I'm sorry, you will have to talk a little louder."

And the Voice said to me: "I want you to tell the people the truth, not an easy thing to do because the people don't want to know the truth."

And I said, "You're kidding. What the the hell should I know about the truth?"

But the Voice said to me: "Don't worry about the truth. I will put the words in your mouth."

And I said, "What is this, the burning bush? For God's sake, I'm not Moses."

And the Voice said to me: "And I'm not God. What has that got to do with it?"

And the voice said to me: "We're not talking about eternal Truth or absolute Truth or ultimate Truth. We're talking about impermanent, transient, human truth. I don't expect you people to be capable of Truth but goddammit at least your capable of self-preservation!"

And I said, "Why me?"

And the voice said: "Because you're on television, dummy! You have 40 million Americans listening to you and after the show you could have 50 million. For Pete's sake, I'm not asking you to walk the land in sackcloth and ashes preaching the Armageddon. You're on TV, man."

So I thought about it for a moment, and then I said, "Ok."

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.