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The full ten episodes of Aaron Sorkin's first season of The Newsroom have now aired on HBO, although viewers will have several chances to catch up on episodes they might have missed. As Sorkin regroups with a new writing staff to prepare for Season 2 (he has apparently dismissed almost all of the team) I, a long-time Sorkin watcher, am doing tribute to his habit of writing two-part and three-part episodes at the close or start of a season of his TV series with a multi-part evaluation of The Newsroom. In this first essay, I discuss what Sorkin is saying in the series about the mainstream media.

Shortly before Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series The Newsroom began in June, I speculated as to what effect an idealistic Sorkinian vision of journalism’s potential could have on the American public. I was worried because Sorkin’s breakthrough hit show The West Wing revived (at least temporarily) public respect for civil servants -- and the show's longterm legacy continues in numerous pilots and series about politics and political office. Before The Newsroom premiered, I had concerns that Sorkin would shower us with appealingly witty and movingly dedicated figures, and it might result in an up-tick in the American public’s trust in the fourth estate. A trust which would be misplaced, hence my concern.

Well, it turns out there wasn’t much reason to worry, at least not yet. The Newsroom garnered a critical aggregate score of 57% on Metacritic and as The Nation reported: “Critics have had a field day with The Newsroom. Ever since Aaron Sorkin’s new TV show launched, it’s been the object of near-universal, often-withering condemnation.” The New York Times noted that Sorkin has been inundated with “charges (more vehement than had been leveled at him in the past) of elitism, self-righteousness, windbaggery and bias” in “unusually harsh reviews”. There were raves as well, but not enough for HBO to rely on for a double-page ad; according to Forbes,  some critics’ words were taken out of context. The show’s reception itself became the story, and Sorkin has apparently been confronted by detractors head-on – at this summer’s Television Critics’ Association press tour, for instance.  It is not what would have been expected for this winner of six Emmys, three Humanitas Prizes, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar.

But really, if you’re going onto the national stage to openly attack the fundamental ways the mainstream media operates in this society, a hostile response from that same media is probably a sign that you’ve done something right. Recappers and reviewers are not even among the journalists Sorkin evaluates in The Newsroom, but it is nonetheless conceivable that they might take his barbs personally. It also makes perfect sense that they would know which side their bread is buttered on. The media often seem as loyal to each other and as unwilling to call each other out for serious wrongdoing as police officers are. The mainstream media’s version of the “Blue Code of Silence” tends to mean they either rush like lemmings to parrot stories that are trivial or even false (i.e. Judith Miller and her stories about Iraq for The New York Times), or they ignore and vilify stories that upset the powers that be (i.e. Gary Webb and his CIA/Crack/Contras stories for the San Jose Mercury News – though much of the series was eventually confirmed.) This has led to a surreal world where the Obama Administration’s David Axelrod can’t even say what everyone already knows, that Fox is not a news organization, without CNN circling the wagons.

Washington insiders ate The West Wing up with a spoon because it made their jobs seem taxing and complex, but the first season of The Newsroom has presented an overwhelmingly broken fourth estate; only the show’s lead characters seem to have any professional pride or integrity. This has led to a backlash among media writers as if Sorkin is merely being sanctimonious and hyperbolic. But I don’t see one thing inaccurate in the monologue news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) gives on-air in the 3rd episode. He apologizes to viewers for an industry that:

   

“miscalled election results, hyped up terror scares, ginned up controversy, and failed to report on tectonic shifts in our country from the collapse of the financial system to the truth about how strong we are, to the dangers we actually face.”
Throughout Season 1, in fact, both McAvoy and his executive producer Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) have lambasted their profession for all kinds of trends that are indeed absolutely prevalent in the media. TV critics who spring to the defense of the off-screen media under attack in the series bring to mind the adage: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

Because Sorkin has used actual events from the recent past as the fodder for the news his characters cover, one of the chief gripes against The Newsroom alleges that he unfairly shows up real-world media outlets by using 20/20 hindsight to make his fictional news team do a better job. Or as Alex Pareene put it at Salon: “the answer is always that the equivalent of a week’s worth of research and reporting should have been accomplished in the two hours before that night’s show.”

Really, you’d have to think Sorkin is a complete idiot to believe this is his whole modus operandi. When the primetime cable news show that the series revolves around, News Night, follows through on a hunch that the BP oil spill will be a huge deal, the point is not that they broke the story fast and the real media should have been quicker. Speed and urgency are dramaturgical tools – none other than Shakespeare condensed events into ahistorically brief time spans in order to ramp up the excitement (i.e. in Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and so on).

Sorkin is much more interested in the media’s relationship to power, whether they ask the tough questions that they should. In Sorkin’s idealized world, anchor McAvoy does: he presses representatives from BP and Halliburton, as well as a government inspector, to reveal underlying truths about the safety of offshore oil drilling.

In the 6th episode, Will affirms his belief system on this aspect of journalism to correspondent Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn). She’s about to go on-air to fill in for the anchor of the 10pm show, and he warns her:

    

“…you're brilliant, but you let your guests say things that I know you know aren't true, and then you just move on. Ask the damn follow-up, and then demonstrate with facts how the guest is lying. You can’t just sit there and be a facilitator for whatever bullshit the guest wants to feed your viewers…You knowingly, passively, allow someone to lie on your air, and maybe you’re not a drug dealer, but you’re sure as hell the guy who drives the dealer around in your car.”
This may not make Will the friendliest guy on the block, but I don’t care. He's right. If there are TV critics who honestly don’t know what a fundamental problem this is in broadcast media, then they ought to stop watching so many fiction shows, and see what the news is up to these days.

Perplexingly, some of the feedback about The Newsroom has been that Will McAvoy is unlikeable. Will can be obnoxious, full of himself, and offensive, like when he calls out “Hey, sorority girl” from the stage in the pilot episode. Yet Sorkin never claims he isn’t those things. Sloan says as much when she describes the general view of him among the cable station staffers. But it’s part of Will’s flaws; Sorkin sees it that way. Two women throw drinks in Will’s face after he insults them; it’s not unlike how or why Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend breaks up with him in the first scene of The Social Network. Sorkin is perfectly capable of writing arrogant characters and knowing that they come across that way.

But the series’ detractors seem to focus on the most simplistic interpretations of what Sorkin is actually saying about the media. Take episode #4. When news breaks of the shooting in Arizona, News Night producers scurry around trying to decide whether their show should declare Congresswoman Gabby Giffords dead, as other outlets have done. Several critics disliked Sorkin scolding the networks’ haste. But the false report of Giffords’ death was no anomaly. It originates, exactly as Sorkin suggested it does, in the ratings-obsessed suits from ‘upstairs’ screaming: “Every second you’re not current, a thousand people are changing the channel to the guy who is!” The mind-set of a 24-hour, instant-update, for-profit news media is bound to result in such mistakes; and worse, in falsehoods and hoaxes -- like Balloon Boy.

Too often, the media never corrects the record at all, or does so in such a mouse-squeak no-one notices. For example, in 1991, the networks blindly accepted the U.S. congressional hearing ‘testimony’ by a 15-year old Kuwaiti hospital volunteer of babies cruelly dashed from incubators by Iraqi soldiers – this fabrication and the witness ‘Nayira’ (actually the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter, and never under oath) had been coached by American PR firm Hill & Knowlton. But the lie lives on still, even in the 2002 HBO dramatic feature Live from Baghdad. It’s a short trip from there to the second invasion of Iraq, in 2003, when pundits cheered the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue. The fact that the incident was actually stage-managed by U.S. Army psy-ops has not stopped the phony image from becoming an iconic historical photo. This is the kind of thing that results from the mind-set that Sorkin describes: the go-along-with-the-pack mentality which, among other things, led to an entire press corps of ‘embeds’ contentedly letting the Pentagon take charge of their coverage of the Iraq War.

At one point, Will mentions that the networks’ nightly newscasts were set up as a public service in exchange for their receiving licenses for the public airwaves. And he adds that they should now also be required to run the news without ads! This is a fairly mind-blowing argument to hear on HBO on a Sunday night. So mind-blowing, in fact, that some of the minds blown have lashed back against the series on this idea: in Salon and Esquire blogs, to name just two. No doubt everyone who has written about The Newsroom feels entirely independent and feels they have an open mike. But they are also, by dint of the venue to which they report, integrated into a media culture which influences them, however subconsciously. Esquire is owned by Hearst Corporation, which also owns 300 other magazines, 53 newspapers, 29 TV stations, and controlling interests in major cable networks; Salon is much more alternative and is considered progressive -- and has had terrific writers like Glenn Greenwald -- but Salon Media Group also happens to have made $3.8 million in sales in the last year. Writers within those universes might not even be able to contemplate how news could function without underwriting by advertisers.

They are perhaps unwilling to wake up and smell the rancid coffee, to consider that media companies began downsizing newsrooms and closing up foreign bureaus when they were in the full bloom of profit, not when they were losing money. (As media reform group FreePress.net notes, “in the 1990s, big media companies used 14–27 percent profit margins to buy up other properties rather than invest in the quality of their existing products or innovate for the future.”) Far from profits bankrolling quality news-gathering, the pursuit of profit has merely resulted in an emphasis on profitable news.

Robert McChesney, a media scholar who co-authored, with political reporter John Nichols, the book The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again told the program Democracy Now:

   

“we think we’re in a moment of crisis right now for journalism…really a freefall collapse in which, in the next few years, the decisions we make will determine whether we even have journalism as it’s been known traditionally. The business model that has supported journalism for the last 125 years in this country is disintegrating…If we’re going to have journalism in this country, it’s going to require that there be public subsidies to create an independent, uncensored, nonprofit, non-commercial news media sector.”
However, some have grown so attached to the model of media for fun and profit that they have objected to The Newsroom trying to resurrect the concept of informing the public as a sacred duty. “The purpose and history of ‘the news,’” wrote Alex Pareene on Salon, “is not actually wise men sternly lecturing you about what you need to know even if you don’t care about it.” Apparently, it’s much better to have jovial anchors who let you make up your mind about which is more important: Brangelina’s latest adoption, or a glacier twice the size of Manhattan breaking off of Greenland? You decide: we’ll present them both as equal!

McAvoy does lecture, but Sorkin doesn’t intend him to be lecturing the audience: it’s the people lying to and distracting the audience he’s hectoring. It’s the people, whether in media, PR, or politics, who pretend that 98% of scientists and 2% of scientists are equivalent, and who certainly aren’t going to mention that those 2% are actually funded by the very industries which have an interest in obscuring the truth. Nowadays the media would take the 4 out of 5 dentists who recommend sugarless gum and the 1 dentist who thinks his clients should be chewing sugared gum, and give both sides as if equal.

Sorkin gave New York magazine a great quote about the media:

   

“Nobody uses the word lie anymore. Suddenly, everything is ‘a difference of opinion.’ If the entire House Republican caucus were to walk onto the floor one day and say ‘The Earth is flat,’ the headline on The New York Times the next day would read ‘Democrats and Republicans Can’t Agree on Shape of Earth.’
He realizes that broadcast media now pursue a holy grail of objectivity that has resulted in “false equivalency”, as he lamented to USA Today:

     

"Most of us have been raised to believe that there are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle….Sometimes the truth doesn't lie in the middle, it lies squarely on one side or the other….[But] you'll never hear the word 'lie' on network news when something is plainly a lie."
In “The 112th Congress”, the 3rd episode of The Newsroom, news division head Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) confronts Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda), the owner of AWM, the parent company of the network that airs News Night. Leona is furious that Will is going after Tea Party politicians and calling them out for doubting evolution and so forth.

   

“Facts are the center.  Facts.  We don’t pretend that certain facts are in dispute to give the appearance of fairness to people who don’t believe them.  Balance is irrelevant to me.  It doesn’t have anything to do with truth, logic or reality.”
 
Sorkin’s superb boardroom quarrel between Leona and Charlie also makes perhaps the best point of The Newsroom’s first season. Charlie tries to make Leona see the importance of properly informing the nation, especially now that “America just elected the most dangerous and addle-minded congress in my lifetime.” Leona thunders back: “I have business in front of this congress, Charlie!” Thus in one key line, Sorkin sears into viewers’ minds the crucial but certainly under-reported fact that the corporate media has its own legislative and regulatory agenda, and that this colors its news reporting.

It is quite possible that we will see more of this in season 2. Sorkin is obviously hip to the significance of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and he certainly spent a significant chunk of season 1 excoriating the Koch Brothers’ wholesale attempt to corrupt the democratic process. He even brought up the notion of ‘Corporate Personhood’. What most people may remember about the scene where Mackenzie invites economist Sloan Sabbith into her office and hires her will be the bizarrely sexist comment that other economists won’t “have your legs”,  but before the scene went south Mackenzie was most intrigued by the fact that Sloan switched a clause about two corporations from the teleprompter’s “both of whom” to “both of which” – because, Sloan explained nonchalantly, “‘whom’ is for people.” Sweet! Sorkin may be fumbling the pass a little, but he has laid the groundwork for his second season to more fully explore the nature of corporate media and the dangers to our democracy of corporate hegemony.

This summer he assured a roomful of media writers at the Television Critics Association: “I don’t want to have an adversarial relationship with the press.”
Well, he's got one. The question going into Season 2 is how he will make use of it.

************************

In subsequent articles, I will examine other aspects of the first season of The Newsroom and Sorkin’s mind-set as a writer, including several serious flaws which hold him back from having the impact his themes deserve.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (33+ / 0-)

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

    by Jennifer A Epps on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 09:16:13 AM PDT

  •  IMO (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball, WFBMM, Puddytat, Aspe4

    both the critics and supporters are right about the newsrooms as a whole.

    Sorkin has a tendency to lecture the audience, he's done it in almost every show, and the extra 10 minutes an episode on HBO gives him that much more opportunity. He's also using 20/20 hindsight on the media events, something nobody in an actual newsroom can have until everything is over and they try to figure out how to do it better next time. Also, I don't think anyone can claim that Sorkin doesn't have a political tilt to his shows. Also, giant plot holes like, hey look, why don't we just look into the Koch brothers, and boom there's the answer.

    On the other hand, sometimes the media does need lecturing, and does do a bad job, and should be slapped across the back of their collective heads for missing stuff. Some of Sorkin's lectures are spot on, and some of the quotes listed above should be, IMO, posted on newsroom walls.

    •  Informational Note: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, Senor Unoball, Aspe4, chicating

      The Press is the Fourth Estate--not the Fifth. I enjoyed your diary--especially your links.  I would definitely like to see more Will McAvoy in the real press.

      The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.

      by Agent Orange on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:20:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i highly recommend avoiding virtually all news (0+ / 0-)

        on television.  it works for me.  i may watch election returns or bill moyers, but, i love getting my daily news from the tubes...

        been doing it for years and i haven't missed a thing.

        YMMV

        No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

        by No Exit on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 11:04:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

        I fixed it.

        “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

        by Jennifer A Epps on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 08:56:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting analysis, thanks (4+ / 0-)

    We like the show, though I think it's a bit too heavy on the soap-opera office romances.

    But as a former newsroom manager, I can identify with the editorial discussions as to what stories to cover, and how best to cover them. Despite the inevitable requirements of a TV series, the newsroom itself rings true.

    I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was. -- Mitt the Twit

    by Senor Unoball on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 09:24:24 AM PDT

  •  Season 2 question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat

    I've tried looking online and cannot seem to track down an answer. Do you know when season 2 is slated to begin?

    I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was. -- Mitt the Twit

    by Senor Unoball on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 09:25:15 AM PDT

  •  Good diary. I was a little slow to warm up to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Senor Unoball, Aspe4

    this show, but soon was enjoying the fantasy of watching what I wish the talking heads would actually do: ask follow-up questions and challenge the liars.

    I also hope some members of the media tune in and get a clue that they've been woefully inept at these two things for years.

    I agree with Senor Unoball--do not like all the soap opera romances.  Just want them to get back to confronting the liars.  

    Sometimes the dialog flies too fast and seems too clever.  I also think Emily Mortimer has a tendency to overact and lays on the British a little too thick, but these are small issues.

    I'll be tuning in next season.

    If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

    by livjack on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 09:48:11 AM PDT

    •  I agree- took me a couple of episodes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, Senor Unoball, Aspe4

      to really warm up to it.  And I suspect that the soap opera romances are Sorkin's attempt to draw in younger viewers, but he's a bit old to be writing for the rom-com audience with any authority (I can say that cause I'm older than he is).

      I like the fast-and-furious dialogue, but yeah, Emily Mortimer chews up the scenery a bit too much.  It's a mixed bag, but the good parts are so good that it's well worth watching- and Jeff Daniels is amazing.

    •  I was hooked right from the start (3+ / 0-)

      It's sad, however, that there were only 10 episodes to the season.  I would have enjoyed more.

      I remember in the "olden days", a series would run about 26 episodes and then revert to reruns.  The Network, along with other new series programs, should offer more episodes per season.  As it stands now, it's more like a Mini Series than a regular series.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:44:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good to hear some positive comments (10+ / 0-)

    about The Newsroom for a change.

    First of all, it's entertainment. My wife limits the amount of "talking heads" shows we watch together, but she looks forward to The Newsroom every week.

    Second, is it just me or does anyone else see a correlation between The Newsroom airing this Summer and the media actually beginning to do its job regarding false equivalence and actually calling out lies? When Tweety Matthews called out Reince Priebus for the Work to Welfare lie, I immediately thought Chris had taken a page from Will McAvoy.

    If for nothing else, give The Newsroom credit for that.

    "McAvoy", the day following the Clint Eastwood speech at the RNC tweeted:

    Last night Clint Eastwood angrily attacked an imaginary version of President Obama. It was business as usual for the Republican Party.

    Perfect!

    •  interesting point about perhaps having an effect (0+ / 0-)

      on the real news.

      personally, i tried to like it and support everything it is trying to do and probably agree with 99% of it... but, i just can't stand the writing.  sorkin's just not my taste.

      No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

      by No Exit on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 11:00:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Loved your analysis Jennifer (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, KayCeSF, Senor Unoball, Aspe4

    I just spent a weekend watching the ENTIRE season in two sittings. I love this program, precisely for zingers like this:

    “…you're brilliant, but you let your guests say things that I know you know aren't true, and then you just move on. Ask the damn follow-up, and then demonstrate with facts how the guest is lying. You can’t just sit there and be a facilitator for whatever bullshit the guest wants to feed your viewers…You knowingly, passively, allow someone to lie on your air, and maybe you’re not a drug dealer, but you’re sure as hell the guy who drives the dealer around in your car.”
    I also love it because it validates my feelings about how corporations now have their hands in everything.

    America is a COUNTRY, not a CORPORATION. She doesn't need a CEO. Vote Obama.

    by manneckdesign on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 09:55:39 AM PDT

  •  It's Not A Bad Show..... (6+ / 0-)

    But it definitely has problems that keeps it from being considered great or good. In the critic reviews I've read, not any of them disagree with the message in the show (i.e. the screwed up media culture). The problem is the messenger, which is the characters and the details of their interactions within this show.

    The main character comes off as a pretentious asshole most of the time, Emily Mortimer's character makes no sense in her depiction (she's supposed to be a professional with a long & highly respected resume, but Sorkin writes her as a lovesick idiot who doesn't understand e-mail), and the show is burdened with two different love triangles that are problematic at best, and distracting & don't work at all at worst.

    Among the other issues:

    • Too often, the show feels like a rehash of Aaron Sorkin's greatest hits, with him using situations, similar characters, and sometimes even the same damn dialogue over again he's used in previous movies and TV shows he's written. Those tropes either function very badly when compared to previous Sorkin shows, or feel like the tenth rehashing of the same ground by Sorkin. The first scene of "The Newsroom," where Will tells off the college coed, has a lot of similarities to the first scene of "Studio 60."
    • Most of the news scenes themselves don't seem to be thought through, in terms of setup or execution. How many times did the show have to setup a story by having it fall into Will's lap because of someone on the staff has a roommate, friend or family member connected to the issue? The "debate" episodes were ridiculous. I understand that Sorkin was trying to make the point that there's no substance in the current debate formats, but that point is squandered by Sorkin's alternative which is equally ridiculous. No official connected to any political party is ever going to agree to a format where their candidates get to be cross-examined/lectured to by Will McAvoy.
    • I don't think Sorkin did himself or his lead character any favors by having an episode where Will McAvoy goes from date to date trying to "fix" the women he meets because they like watching "The Real Housewives" on Bravo. It just came off as smug & elitist. People are capable of doing two things at the same time. It is possible to care about the issues of the world, and enjoy schlock like reality TV.
    • The big love triangle of "The Newsroom" is horrible in almost every way. The show has never given us any reason as to why Maggie is a better love interest for Jim than Lisa other than the need to have a contrived love triangle. If anything, Lisa seems like the better woman to have a relationship with. And it's not like Alison Pill's character is smarter (she once thought the Russians were invading Atlanta), more affectionate (she screams at & berates Jim in front of the staff) or particularly likable (she has feelings for a guy other than her boyfriend, but is stringing the boyfriend along while getting upset about the relationship Jim has).
  •  I agree (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Senor Unoball, Aspe4, Deep Texan

    I had the same thought, watching Matthews doing his thing at the conventions right after watching a backlog of Newsroom episodes.  And note, MSNBC had a huge ratings jump at the conventions this year, and I think Matthews increasingly direct approach (e.g., calling out dog-whistle racism) is a big part of the reason.

    •  Tweety runs hot and cold (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball, Aspe4

      Sometimes he's good, direct, observant, and follows up, but at other times he simply panders (for access, perhaps) and allows guests to spout BS and propaganda without challenging them on the facts.  

      I never know which Chris Matthews will be on the air.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:47:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Enjoyed the series - the final episode (5+ / 0-)

    was amazing-a great hard-hitting comment by McAvoy.

    Thanks for all the background, etc about a series I hope is around a long time!

    There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it. ~Author Unknown

    by VA Breeze on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:06:40 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this, great post (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Senor Unoball, Aspe4, Deep Texan

    And I can see how much work it was. A treat to read.

  •  My husband and I watched every episode and (4+ / 0-)

    were more than a little excited about the message Aaron Sorkin is sending to our media: news is about reporting the facts, not about reporting opinions.  It's clear and concise and powerful and entertaining and it's proving that the pen is still mightier than the sword.  I also believe there's been a sea change in the way the news is now reporting the facts more often than they were before his series first aired.  Journalists are actually starting to question their guests when their guests spout nothing but lies.  Refreshing.  Reminds me of the good old days.

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:12:04 AM PDT

  •  I've really enjoyed The Newsroom... (5+ / 0-)

    and I don't think it's any coincidence, despite media critics of the show, that all of a sudden news anchors are FINALLY calling out right-wing lies by Romney advocates. From Chris Matthews (whose son is in the cast) to Soledad O'Brien to Norah O'Donnell and a few others, I sense a sudden willingness to be something more than a stenographer, which I'm calling "The Newsroom" Effect. I only hope the moderators of the upcoming debates will commit to getting real answers from both candidates.

    "The Democrats have moved to the right and the Republicans have moved into an insane asylum." ~Bill Maher

    by Constant Comment on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:32:08 AM PDT

    •  That would be great (0+ / 0-)

      If there is indeed a "Newsroom Effect" like you described. I'm not that optimistic, but that would certainly be the preferred result: that the media improves.

      “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

      by Jennifer A Epps on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 12:34:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not a member of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Senor Unoball, Rimjob, No Exit

    the Fourth Estate, and I find the show almost unwatchably bad.  Does that also mean Sorkin is doing something right?

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:33:27 AM PDT

    •  different strokes for different folks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico

      i thought the show was superb. you just don't see that kind of dialog and wit on tv these days.

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 01:29:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course you do: there's plenty out there. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rimjob

        Sorry, I didn't leave a longer comment above because I was just taken aback at the diary's claim here.  By that standard no negative review of the show is possible, even if it's a bad show, because a negative review is evidence that Sorkin hit home?  Yeesh.  It's what people call a 'critic-proof' argument, in a bad way.    That's what I was reacting to above.

        But yeah, there's a lot of stuff on television right now that's better written, wittier, etc.  In fact some critics have been arguing, with ample evidence pro and con, that we may be in the true golden age of television: there's a ton more chaff than there ever was, but the sheer amount of quality material is unparalleled in the medium's history.  

        If I can be as unfair to people who like the show as the diarist was to people who don't, I'll wonder aloud if anyone would watch it if it weren't already conforming people's beliefs about the state of modern media; if it's just a hourly echo chamber created by a writer who doesn't understand the medium he's critiquing, and that it'd collapse if its viewers weren't aching for someone to express their frustration with the news; if you switched out 'mainstream media' with any other topic, people would realize the show is a giant bubble of weakly constructed self-delusion.

        Except... I don't have to wonder: that show was called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and everyone agrees it was an unmitigated disaster.  

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 02:29:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forgot to add: (0+ / 0-)

          Your mileage may vary.

          heh

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 03:19:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good thing to add (0+ / 0-)

            as Studio 60 is one of my all time favorite shows.  

            I don't have cable, so I often don't hear about these shows until they're on DVD.  I'm waiting for my Netflix to come in the mail to see if I think that Sorkin hit it out of the park, as usual, or if this is one of his few flops.

            But ... your mileage may vary.

        •  you failed to mention anything really (0+ / 0-)

          i am not a critic nor expert in acting.  

          i don't agree we're in a golden age of television.  we have more channels and choice sure.  but i think most of it is crap.

          most of it isn't better than anything from the 60's, 70's, 80's or the 90's.

          one of my all time favorite shows is the X-Files.  very well done imo but what do i know.

          -You want to change the system, run for office.

          by Deep Texan on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 07:27:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think as a journalism-school grad... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico

      I'm contractually obligated to dig that sort of inside baseball.(they do get us young)
      I do sort of hate that they have economic expert whose tits come in the room before she does, but then I get distracted wondering on what level that's sexist...that I don't believe in beautiful economics experts or because Sorkin thinks giving a sexpot a doctorate and some pop-culture awkwardness is creating a full human being.(some of both possibly)

      "...annoyingly ethical,"

      by chicating on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 06:19:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the show is brilliant. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aspe4, Deep Texan

    It is no surprise to me that the Fourth Estate has some negative remarks about The Newsroom. Of course they are defensive because they don't want anyone telling them how pathetic the reporting has been and prefer business as usual.

    Sorkin is a brilliant scriptwriter, and the cast are doing an amazing acting job with the script that is so fast-paced.  I'm addicted.  I hope more people will become fans of this show, too.

    There's just enough soap with the characters to keep the "reality show" viewers watching, so none of that bothers me.  Sorkin didn't want it to be so dry that people would become too saturated with pure journalism.  

    Nice diary!  Thanks!

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 11:09:41 AM PDT

  •  Dealt with 1000s of repporters and editors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aspe4

    and most of them would laugh, along with me, at the amateurs portrayed in The Newsroom.

    Most of it sounds like college newspaper meetings.

  •  I question if it's quite this nefarious (0+ / 0-)

    I don't doubt that there are critics of the show who don't want this quite terrific take on American journalism.  But a lot of critics of the show are more critical of the depiction of the women characters.  Me included, and I'm a huge Sorkin fan and re-watch West Wing repeatedly and even loved that one-season show a few years ago (I own it and watch that, too).  

    The female characters in The Newsroom are cringe-worthy.  I wonder if Sorkin had a bad break-up and has decided to use the show as therapy.  I think it distracts from the otherwise excellent story it's trying to tell.  I love Emily Mortimer, and when she makes me cringe, it's in the writing.  She's just too good an actress.  

    Sorkin can use his works to deal with whatever his personal issues are and I know this from experience.  I'm a director and was head of a well-established theatre company in the Chicago area a good many years ago.  We were producing A Few Good Men.  We were in rehearsal, we had paid the rights, we had printed the posters, the mailings, and rented the uniforms.  Three and a half weeks before the show he pulled the rights.  Just felt like it.  Didn't want the show produced right then.  When you're dealing with volunteers, this was devastating.  we scrambled to replace the show with something else.

    So although I don't doubt that there are critics who don't want this excellent message televised I don't think that's the only reason there's been some criticism.  I'm glad he's re-tooled the writing staff and I look forward to seeing excellent actresses like Emily Mortimer and Jane Fonda great material in Season 2.  

    •  True (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ceebee7

      The acting is terrific. One of the delights of any Sorkin production is how the actors deliver the lines. His producers are always really good at casting.

      So sorry to hear about your bad experience in Chicago!

      I deal with the issue of Sorkin's portraits of women in my subsequent post:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

      by Jennifer A Epps on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 12:31:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i can't wait for season 2 (0+ / 0-)

    you are spot on.

    the show is very well done.  they are absolutely 100% correct in their estimation of the media imo.

    it's been painfully obvious for 20 years now.

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 01:27:17 PM PDT

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