Kevin Spacey, left, and Denis Leary in "Recount."
Whenever I hear journalism types start into the discussions and arguments about what newspapers did wrong in the face of the internet, I'm reminded of a bit of dialogue from HBO's brilliant film, "Recount."
The movie tells the sad (and funny) story of the contested 2000 presidential election. Near the end, after the Supreme Court has stopped the Florida recount and made Bush the winner, two of the Democratic operatives who were in charge of Gore's efforts to win Florida, Ron Klain (played by Kevin Spacey) and Michael Whouley (played by Denis Leary), are walking to their airplane, preparing to fly home. Klain knows they came soooo close and he just can't let go of the "what might have beens:"
Ron Klain: "We should have asked for a statewide [recount] from the get-go -- that was our biggest mistake."Michael Whouley: "Mm-hmm, and Ralph Nader should've pulled his head out of his ass. And Elian Gonzalez should've never left Miami. And Gore should've campaigned with Clinton. And Clinton should've got caught getting a blowjob from Sharon Stone instead of Monica Lewinsky 'cause then his approval ratings would have shot through the roof. And Katherine Harris should've thought twice about purging 20,000 voters from the rolls. And George Bush Jr. should have never quit drinking ... but he did. It is what it is, pal. Four years from now we'll come back, gather our information and go right back at 'em."
That's the line: "It is what it is, pal." That's what I think about when I ponder what's happened to the newspaper business. You can debate the mistakes all you want but you're just wasting time and energy. Better to gather your information and go right back at 'em.