Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 Film Network: Big Media’s How-To Guide for the Obama Era

But actually, it was just such an incident that inspired Chayefsky's script, according to the page on Network at Wikipedia-- which might even be right on this one:

Part of the inspiration for Chayefsky's script came from the on-air suicide of television news reporter Christine Chubbuck in Sarasota, Florida two years earlier. The anchorwoman was suffering from depression and battles with her editors, and unable to keep going, she shot herself on camera as stunned viewers watched on July 15, 1974. Chayefsky used the incident to set up his film's focal point. As he would say later in an interview, "Television will do anything for a rating... anything!"

While a horrific 1974 incident may have inspired the film’s most outrageous moments, perhaps the most dated scene in Network occurs when Ned Beatty’s charismatic CEO character, gives his “this is how the world works” rant after Peter Finch’s Howard Beale character had urged his audience to block the merger of UBS’s parent company with a Saudi Arabian corporation.

It’s a great speech (but then, everybody in Network has great speeches), but it has not stood the test of time for several reasons. Three years after Network left theaters, Alvin Toffler wrote the following in The Third Wave, his 1980 sequel to Future Shock:

No one today, from the experts in the White House or the Kremlin to the proverbial man in the street, can be sure how the new world system will shake out -- what new kinds of institutions will arise to provide regional or global order. But it is possible to dispel several popular myths.

The first of these is the myth propagated by such films as Rollerball and Network, in which a steely-eyed villain announces that the world is, or will be, divided up and run by a group of transnational corporations. In its most common form this myth pictures a single worldwide Energy Corporation, a single Food Corporation, a single Housing Corporation, a single Recreation Corporation, and so forth. In a variant, each of these is seen as a department of an even larger mega-corporation.

This simplistic image is based on straight-line extrapolations from Second Wave trends: specialization, maximization, and centralization.

Not only does this view fail to take into account the fantastic diversity of real life conditions, the clash of cultures, religions, and traditions in the world, the speed of change, and the historic thrust now carrying the high-technology nations toward de-massification; not only does it naively presuppose that such needs as energy, housing, or food can be neatly compartmentalized; it ignores the fundamental changes now revolutionizing the structure and purpose of the corporation itself. It is based, in short, on an obsolete, Second Wave image of what a corporation is and how it is structured.

Toffler was right, and small business and entrepreneurship would eventually lead the America out of the rut that it was trapped in by the Jimmy Carter “Malaise” era. On April 1st 1976, the US government assumed control over the giant Penn Central and a half dozen other equally bankrupt northeast railroads to form Conrail; but also on that date, two unknown northern California guys named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in Jobs’ parents’ garage, and unleashed the personal computing revolution.

But governments hate small business; from their perspective, dealing with small business is even worse than herding cats. And as with all things “Progressive,” this isn’t a new development.