A Chat About “The Newsroom”

This one’s for serious Sorkin fans only. Yesterday, blogger JustMeMike and I had a lengthy disucssion about last Sunday’s episode of “The Newsroom” on his site.

NOAH: But enough about these relationships. I’m starting to feel like a gossipy high school cheerleader (which is one of the reasons I have problems with the show). I came toThe Newsroom for the politics, having been a big fan of The West Wing and as a person involved with politics in my day job. How do you think Sorkin is handling the political content so far? Is he beating us over the head with the OWS stuff or do you find it woven well into the fabric of the story?

JMM: Not at all – OWS is still back seat to the Romney campaign, but Neal got off a good one about the shoes. Even MacKenzie liked it. Sorkin has definitely made MacKenzie less of a klutz and more of a superb EP this year. Thankfully. As for the downside of the show – that is Sorkin being Sorkin. He throws in the romances for the entertainment (and the unknown) as we already know the outcomes of the news events themselves.

Having said that – Operation Genoa is fiction, right?

NOAH: It is fiction, but I have heard that it’s based on Operation Tailwind, in which U.S. forces supposedly used nerve gas in Laos during the Vietnam War. The allegations proved to be false, and lots of news producers got fired over it. I liked the Operation Genoa story a lot more before I knew it was based on a real thing. I was really hoping that Sorkin had learned a lesson here because I think you hit the nail on the head.

It is very hard to engage with the show emotionally when you know how these news stories end. Even worse, we know that the entire narrative thrust of the show – Will’s “mission to civilize” – is a failure because here we are, 2 years later, and our public discourse sure ain’t civilized. For me, it often reduces “The Newsroom” to an intellectual exercise, and I was really hoping that Operation Genoa would be different, but Sorkin has this weird impulse to tell us everything that’s going to happen before it does. Even if we didn’t know about the connection to Tailwind, he told us in the very first scene of this season that Genoa turns out not to be true, and Jerry gets fired (I think). Why do you think he does this? Is there any value to knowing how the story ends at the beginning?

You can read the rest of the discussion here.

Jeff Daniels

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