If you are anything like the #INN staff then you certainly have noticed HBO’s new series “The Newsroom”. Who am I kidding? If you are anything like the staff you have fallen completely in love with the show. Everything about the show is absolutely brilliant. The story lines are entertaining, and the show is set in the recent past, reporting news that happened only a year or two ago; it’s like reliving important historical moments again, just as they unfolded; whether it be the death of Osama Bin Laden like this week’s episode, or the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. They are events we all remember and events we remember watching unfold on the news. The principles and messages of the show, that journalists can do a better job actually reporting the news and that corporations control the media are the main reasons why we founded Infinity to begin with, and it’s these principles that drew us to the show to begin with.
As with any show there are certainly going to be critics and criticism. After scouring the Internet, and reading as much criticism that could be found, most of it seems to be that the female characters seem to be portrayed as dumber than the male characters. In an era where every sitcom (along with every cartoon family and hundreds of other shows) features an idiot husband, this criticism is one I could live with, however untrue the criticism is.
Another issue pointed out is that The Newsroom is too preachy and unrealistic. It certainly is preachy, and it preaches to people who need to be preached to: journalists. This show is making a strong statement that news people are not reporting the news like true journalists should. It is showing examples of how ratings, corporations, political ideologies, and many other factors shape the news we view and read, and how “The Newsroom” team is trying to stop this. This is the part that sadly seems unrealistic: to think that a large news organization, in this case a cable news program, could report the news without any of these factors hindering their true journalism.
Even the show itself seems to be shaped by some of the factors it warns against. The show seems to lean to the left, with a bit of a liberal agenda in it. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the show airs on HBO, the company that brought the world the completely fair and factual “Game Change” movie, with impeccable acting I might add. I did not want to see any kind of agenda in the show, and truly hoped there would not be, considering the concept of the show itself. This criticism may come with a healthy dose of paranoia, but episode after episode revealed details that certainly pointed to the show leaning left.
SPOLIERS! BEGIN SPOILER!
Episode 1: Halliburton and BP (an oil company) are blamed for the spill. They were actually responsible so this is fine, but both groups are considered by most to be on the right.
Episode 2: The show seems to take a friendly stance on illegal immigration, with the only opposition points of view coming from crazy racists, although Will does try to guide them into an actual sane argument. Also a Sarah Palin gaffe is played on the show, as Will defends it.
Episode 3: The Tea Party is attacked throughout the entire episode. Some truths were exposed about the Tea Party and their funding in the episode, but a war on the Tea Party is started.
Episode 4: Clips of conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are played and they are scolded by Will. They did misrepresent facts in the clips and should have been scolded. The episode also takes a big anti-gun stance.
Episode 5: The episode takes a negative stance towards Republican Governor Scott Walker and seems to suggest the breaking up of unions was orchestrated by groups supported by the Koch Brothers.
Episode 6: The episode attacks Rick Santorum for opposing gay marriage. It does however have a rebuttal from a black, gay professor who worked for Santorum and defends the politician on everything but gay marriage. His argument that his “gayness” and “blackness” don’t define him is truly a magical television moment that I believe everyone should see.
Episode 7: This episode shows Fox News’ Giraldo misreporting on the Osama Bin Laden death and instead reporting Gaddafi dead. (I specifically remember Giraldo being an idiot that night, and me being incredibly annoyed with him so this was certainly true.)
Most of these examples are events that truthfully happened and the arguments made by the show scolding certain people or groups, or exposing information were warranted. When certain conservative media members misrepresent facts or misreport the news they deserve to be scolded. Journalists can do a better job. But it isn’t just conservatives doing this. The events that happened were all true and important, but there have been other events that would upset those on the left that aren’t being touched by the show.
In no way should Aaron Sorkin stop taking shots at the right. However, he should also be taking shots at the left as well. This country is screwed up, and people (including journalists) on the left and right are responsible.
The fact that the show appears to be left leaning does not take away from its greatness and genius. It is still entertaining, it still touches on issues that absolutely need to be talked about in the world, and it still encourages the values of true journalism and true news, being reported without any outside influence shaping it. Aaron Sorkin should take his characters’ advice and do a show worthy to be called “The Newsroom” a show that is outside of political ideology and corporate pressure. Sorkin could be a shining example of a show revolving around politics and remaining above them. By doing this the values that the show teaches can become reality, and seem more possible to those watching.