On stage with actor Jean Dujardin, who presented the award, the actor at first thanked his wife, Amal Clooney, and the French Academy, before turning to the state of things in the U.S.
“As citizens of the world, we’re going to have to work harder and harder not to let hate win,” he said, later adding, “I was thinking about Edward R. Murrow as we find ourselves nostalgic for when America was great and when the news wasn’t fake.”
Clooney then weaved together quotes from one of the broadcast legend’s most famous telecasts, when Murrow famously criticized Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) on CBS’ “See It Now” on March 9, 1954, as the senator ramped up his anti-communist activities.
Said Clooney on Friday:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must not walk in fear of one another. We must not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep in our history and remember that we are not descendants from fearful people, we proclaim ourselves indeed as we are the defenders of freedom wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.
The actions of this president have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it—and rather successfully.
Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” Good night, and good luck.
Cassius, in this instance, refers to the character from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Clooney also swapped in a few words to bring Murrow’s words into the modern era, switching out the journalist’s “the junior Senator from Wisconsin” for “this president.”
Edward R. Murrow’s famous criticism of Joseph R. McCarthy
Clooney is a known fan of Murrow’s career, as he wrote, directed and starred in 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a film that followed the tension between Murrow and McCarthy in the 1950s.
The actor has repeatedly taken President Donald Trump to task in recent months. Just earlier this week, he called Trump a “Hollywood elitist” who collected “$120,000 a year in his Screen Actors Guild pension fund.”
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place