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  • [audience laughter]

  • [Sharon and Louis arguing, interrupting each other; Will's mind is clearly in another place, other voices are fading in and out.]

  • [Will spots a woman in the audience]

  • [Sharon and Louis arguing returns.] Sharon: ...is code for New York, Jewish, perverted, and gay.

  • Host: Will?

  • Will: Yes, sir.

  • Host: [Laughing] Anything to add?

  • Will: I think we need a more precise definition of perverted.

  • [Audience laughter]

  • Host: [Chuckling] Ok, we'll go on to the next question then. You, sir. [Points to student at microphone]

  • Student: Hi, my name is Steven, I'm a junior, and my question is for Will McAvoy. Do you consider yourself a democrat, republican, or independent?

  • Will: I consider myself a New York Jets fan, Steven.

  • [Audience laughter]

  • Host: Since it's been brought up, you've almost religiously avoided stating, or even implying...

  • ...a political allegiance. Is that because, as a news anchor, you feel the integrity of your broadcast would be compromised?

  • Will: That sounds like a good answer, I'll take it.

  • [Audience laughter]

  • Host: There was a short piece on Vanity Fair's website by Marshall Westbrook...

  • ...you probably saw it, where he calls you the "Jay Leno of news anchors." You're popular because you don't bother anyone.

  • Will: Yeah.

  • Host: How...how do you feel about that?

  • Will: [Thinking for a moment] Jealous of the size of Jay's audience.

  • Host: Are you willing to say, here tonight, whether you lean right or left?

  • Will: I've voted for candidates run by both major parties.

  • Host: Let's move on to the next question. Go ahead...

  • Student: Hi. My name is Jenny, I'm a sophomore, and this is for all three of you:

  • Can you say in one sentence or less...

  • [Audience laughing]

  • Student: Um, you know what I mean. Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?

  • Sharon: Diversity and opportunity.

  • Host: Louis?

  • Louis: Um, freedom... and freedom. So let's keep it that way.

  • [Scattered audience applause]

  • Host: Will?

  • Will: The New York Jets.

  • [Chuckling from the audience]

  • Host: No. I'm going to hold you to an answer on that.

  • What makes America the greatest country in the world?

  • Will: [Sighs] Well, Louis and Sharon said it. Diversity and opportunity, and freedom and freedom.

  • [Woman in the audience holding up signs on a pad of paper]

  • Sign: IT'S NOT

  • Sign: BUT IT CAN BE

  • Host: I'm not letting you go back to the airport without answering the question.

  • Will: Well, our Constitution is a masterpiece, James Madison was a genius,

  • The Declaration of Independence is, for me, the single greatest piece of American writing.

  • Will: [Visibly annoyed] You don't look satisfied.

  • Host: One's a set of laws; the other is a declaration of war. I want a human moment from you.

  • Woman's Sign: IT'S NOT

  • Host: What about the people?

  • Why is America the gr-

  • Will: [Interrupting, impatient] It's not the greatest country in the world, Professor. That's my answer

  • [Audience is silent, visibly in shock]

  • Host: You're saying...

  • Will: [Interrupting, again] Yes.

  • Host: Let's talk about-

  • Will: [Interrupting] Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck,

  • but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants. It doesn't cost money, it costs votes, it costs airtime,

  • and column inches. You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so

  • fuckin' smart how come they lose so goddamn always?

  • Sharon: Hey!

  • Will: [ turns to Louis, talking over Sharon] And with a straight face, you're going to tell students that America

  • is so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom?

  • Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K., France, Italy Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium

  • has freedom! Some 207 sovereign states in the world; like 180 of them have freedom.

  • Host: Alright-

  • Will: [Interrupting the host] And yeah you. Sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth

  • one day, there's some things you should know, and one of them is: there is absolutely no evidence to support

  • the statement that we're the greatest country in the world.

  • We're 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality,

  • 3rd in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports.

  • We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults

  • who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries

  • combined, 25 of whom are allies. Now, none of this is the fault of a - a 20-year-old college student,

  • but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst, period. Generation, period.

  • Ever, period. So when you ask, "what makes us the greatest country in the world?"

  • I don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

  • Yosemite?

  • [Silence, audience clearly in disbelief]

  • Will: We sure used to be...

  • We stood up for what was right.

  • We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, 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 we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the worlds greatest economy.

  • We reached for the stars.

  • 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 -- we didn't scare so easy.

  • [Will chuckles]

  • [Clears his throat] 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.

  • Will: [Turning to host, smugly] Enough?

[audience laughter]

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The Newsroom - America Is Not The Greatest Country in the World Anymore

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    Kristi Yang posted on 2016/10/03
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