WEBB: You know, my first story was about a dog that shoulda died but wouldn’t. I was twenty-two. It was a stupid little feature, but I was proud of it, and I put it in a frame and hung it up, and believed I joined a secret guild of reporters. If there ever was a true believer, it was me. My last story – I filed it just this morning – was about a police horse in Cupertino, California that died of constipation.
Actually, that’s not a joke. (laughs at himself) But start with a dog, end with a pile of horseshit. There’s a kind of poetry to that, isn’t there? Well, that’s bullshit — He smiles into the room. People are staring at their shoes.
Look, I am not going to lie for you people. I have gotten people pissed at me over the years. But I was never fired, I never got any death threats — none I took seriously — and my editors never threw me under the bus. (the discomfort in the room grows) Now I see it’s because I never wrote anything that really mattered. Mattered in a way that matters to lots and lots of people. Matters in a scary way.
I am not going to give you want you want. I am not going take it back and beg for my job and wag my tail. I am not going to make you feel better. I thought my job was to tell the public the truth. The facts, pretty or not. And let the publishing of facts make a difference in how people look at things, at themselves, and at what they stand for. (Long silence.) But shame on me- (rising anger now) I know something I didn’t know before. I now know there are stories that are too true to tell. Who made you the arbiters of what the world should and should not know? Who made any of us God?
Thank you. This is the only thing I ever wanted to do. And for a while, for a long while, it was an honor. Truly.