Dylan Ratigan's Howard Beale Moment

The MSNBC host's anger-fueled rant summons memories of the 'Network'

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MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan unleashed a rant about the U.S. debt on his Tuesday show that raised eyebrows in the blogosphere and seemed to terrify the guests of his eponymous show. Economics blogger Yves Smith called it "remarkable," Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal deemed it "epic," and Mediaite's Colby Hall swooned, saying it was "about as entertainingly unhinged as you will ever want to see." The Ratigan rant skewered both Republicans and Democrats for failing to propose long-term solutions to America's mounting debt and it's vague disaffected anger smacked of the kind of blind rage immortalized in the 1976 network news drama Network by fictional news anchor Howard Beale. Acknowledging the reference on his blog this morning, Ratigan called it his "epic 'Network' moment" noting it constituted his "most heartfelt and emotional moment on television, ever." So does the cinematic allusion ring true? The gist of his rant can be summed up in this graph:

We’ve got a real problem…this is a mathematical fact. Tens of trillions of dollars are being extracted from the United States of America. Democrats aren’t doing it, Republicans aren’t doing it, an entire integrated system, banking, trade and taxation, created by both parties over a period of two decades is at work on our entire country right now.

Meanwhile, the Beale speech's finest moment is in this passage. Does Ratigan pass the Beale test? Video below:

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be!

We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy.

It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not going to leave you alone.

I want you to get mad!

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.