The Mad Prophet of the Airwaves

“Network” (1976) Howard Beale – The ‘Mad Prophet of the Airwaves’ speech
delivered by Peter Finch


Edward George Ruddy died today! Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the
Board of the Union Broadcasting Systems and he died at eleven o’clock this
morning of a heart condition! And woe is us! We’re in a lot of

So, a rich little man with white hair died. What does that got
to do with the price of rice, right? And why is that woe to us?

you people and 62 million other Americans are listening to me right

Because less than 3 percent of you people read books.

less than 15 percent of you read newspapers.

Because the only truth you
know is what you get over this tube.

Right now, there is a whole, an
entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this

This tube is the gospel, the ultimate

This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime

This tube is
the most awesome goddamn force in the whole godless world.

woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people.

And that’s
why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died.

Because this company is now
in the hands of CCA — the Communication Corporation of America. There’s a new
Chairman of the Board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office
on the 20th floor. And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the
most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what
shit will be peddled for truth on this network.

So, you listen to me.
Listen to me!

Television is not the truth. Television’s a goddamn
amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of
acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion
tamers, and football players.

We’re in the boredom-killing

So if you want the Truth, go to God.

Go to your

Go to yourselves!

Because that’s the only place you’re ever
gonna find any real truth.

But, man, you’re never gonna get any truth
from us. We’ll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We’ll tell
you that Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie
Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry. Just
look at your watch. At the end of the hour, he’s gonna win. We’ll tell you any
shit you want to hear.

We deal in illusions, man. None of it is

But you people sit there, day after day, night after night — all
ages, colors, creeds.

We’re all you know!

You’re beginning
to believe the illusions we’re spinning here!

You’re beginning to think
that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal.

You do
whatever the tube tells you —

You dress like the tube.

You eat
like the tube.

You raise your children like the tube.

You even
think like the tube.

This is mass madness, you maniacs!

In God’s
name, you people are the real thing.

We are the illusion!

So turn
off your television sets. Turn them off now! Turn them off right now! Turn them
off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I’m
speaking to you now.

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One thought on “The Mad Prophet of the Airwaves

  1. David Mann says:

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