New York Times Loves Sorkin’s Version of the News
In a love letter to themselves, the New York Times reviewed Aaron Sorkin’s new show “The Newsroom” and gushed:
“CNN, which has long struggled to locate an anchor for its 8 p.m. hour, may have finally found him. Will McAvoy is handsome, forthright and authoritative, with just enough irascibility and skepticism to seem provocative. He believes in the primacy of news, that truth is not the hole in the middle of the doughnut and that good information will help the body politic find the angels of its better nature.”
Aaarghh. The New York Times is lecturing us on the primacy of news in news reporting? Really?
The review continues with an homage to CNN:
Once the leader in cable news, CNN clocked its lowest rating in a decade in April. It has been flanked and then overrun, first by Fox News from the right and then by MSNBC on the left.
CNN has stuck with, well, a version of the news, and gotten clobbered in the process. Its tenuous plight as the honest tradesman of the TV news business is reflected in the scripts of 'The Newsroom' — Will McAvoy works for Atlantis World Media, named after a lost kingdom, and there are liberal sprinklings of 'Man of La Mancha,' with arguments over who is being more quixotic.
But wait, there’s more. The review lionizes McAvoy this way:
Mr. McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is asked what he actually believes in, in front of a crowd of earnest journalism students, and he answers truthfully: America, and journalism, have gone off the rails. Stirred by his own speech and by his new executive producer, an old flame played by Emily Mortimer, they decide to forgo fluff and, radically enough, cover the news. In an on-air apology that follows, the McAvoy character acknowledges that ‘we took a dive for our ratings’ and vows to produce a show that reflects importance, not heat. At the end of his mission statement, he asks, ‘Who are we to make these decisions?’ (Long pause.) ‘We are the media elite.’
The N.Y. Times lionizing a media elitist? Be still my heart.
It gets better; the reviewer patronizes the viewers of America:
The chicken-and-egg debate over which got dumb first — the viewing masses or the news — seems less important than that cold fact that both are true. The truth is that aspirations rarely leap off the screen and into the American consciousness, and the more noble television tries to make them the more detached from reality they seem.
Sorkin reminisced about the good old days in an interview with the Times, when radio and TV could rely on honest brokers like (sic) Murrow and Cronkite:
“Part of the emotion and romance of the show is being reminded of the role that great journalism’s played in our past and that the possibility exists that we could lift ourselves up by coming back to that church,” he said.
But we’re talking Aaron Sorkin here; even the Times acknowledges that he is not an honest broker himself:
“Even Mr. Sorkin cheats on his own premise, tilting piously left in his choice of targets: the Koch brothers, the gun lobby, the Tea Party and Wall Street bankers, even though Will McAvoy is nominally a Republican.”
The N.Y. Times pulsating with excitement over Aaron Sorkin reminds one of Barack Obama pulsating over a picture of George Soros; it’s not surprising, but do we really have to bear witness to it?