By Paul Castaneda
In one of the episodes from his unfairly short lived HBO drama THE NEWSROOM, Aaron Sorkin has one of his characters, Sloan Sabbith (portrayed by Olivia Munn) say the following words to the recently publicly humbled Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels):
“The greater fool is actually an economic term. It’s a patsy. For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool— someone who will buy long and sell short. Most people spend their life trying not to be the greater fool; we toss him the hot potato, we dive for his seat when the music stops. The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed. This whole country was made by greater fools.”
You can view the clip from the show on YouTube.
For a very long time, I have wrestled with both how to funnel what I thought were my relevant takes on news, society, politics and current events and also how to deal with the frightening descent into anti-science, anti-fact, ultra-partisan chaos to which our governance and media were falling. In one moment, within a binge watch of a criminally underrated show by an equally underrated writer, I felt I had stumbled upon a possible answer.
Introducing The Greater Fool, a New Column
The Greater Fool, if successful, aims to be a semi regular column, eventual podcast and, yes, broadcast, focused on presenting what is going on in our country from a somewhat unique perspective … in honor of truth. Now, one can’t make a proclamation like that and not expect eyes to roll, laughter, ridicule and more. Which is precisely why The Greater Fool is the perfect title for this endeavor.
I am not Will McAvoy; I am neither a journalist nor a television newsman for a cable news channel, fictional or otherwise. And, while I hold many who practice both of those professions in high esteem, I think this is a plus. I am not bound by journalistic rules nor am I a slave to ratings or a paycheck based on same. Sure, I’d love to reach and engage many people, but I am in this now because after the last four years of chaos that our nation endured, which were preceded by decades of benign neglect at best and active attack at worst on our democracy, I could no longer silently stand by … or loudly yell in the empty vastness of social media.
I’ve told you what I’m not. Here is what I am: a registered Democrat who is much more of an independent thinker and has had much disdain for both parties for decades now. While having a great deal of respect for monolithic names like Cronkite, Brokaw, Jennings, Rather, Walters, Sawyer, Chung and more, my style will just as heavily be informed and steal from what I consider to be giants like George Carlin, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, and others. Not that I’ll be funny or comical, but that I may sometimes bitingly satirize in order to avoid losing my mind covering the seemingly insane. Besides, that first grouping of names is an atmospheric level I’d be crazy to aspire to resemble (and the second grouping so laser pointed in observation as to leave me cowering in fear lest my meager skills be compared).
What Can You Expect From The Greater Fool?
My interview style, if and when I get to do them, humbly hopes to borrow from legends like Dick Cavett, Tom Snyder, Jon Stewart. Well, perhaps them, but a bit more … aggressive … at times. At least current realities will keep me from getting punched or having objects thrown my way.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. From here on in, starting with the next column, we are going to dig into things. So, in that regard … anything been going on nationally since January 1?
Paul Castaneda is a published writer and playwright, a longtime businessman and, above all else, an American citizen dedicated to a brighter future for our nation.