I didn’t mind The West Wing. Didn’t watch it a whole lot, but I didn’t mind it. The hero was a Democratic President, who was smart, sophisticated, and occasionally gutsy. The politics were blatant, but in a show about politics, they should have been. And Sorkin usually gave the Right its State of the Union Response.
But The Newsroom? Bah. The premise stinks to high heaven: a journalist suddenly decides to Tell the Truth. And to declare said Truth in an highly impassioned, hectoring style, liberally sprinkled with I-Despair-For-America.
Later in the show, Daniels’ character is galvanized by his impassioned producer (Emily Mortimer) after an argument representing the only political positions Sorkin knows: Cynical Left and Idealistic Left. She warns (in 2010) that “there’s gonna be a huge conversation: Is government an instrument of good or is it every man for himself?” and the anchor is needed to “frame that debate,” i.e. blatantly editorialize and slant, which doesn’t really sound like the thing that will, in her words, “restore journalism as an honorable profession” since it is, in fact, the reason Americans hate journalists.
This is the same dull fantasy that permeated those stentorian proggie bores The American President and Dave: why, if some brave soul would just tell the Truth, problems would wash away and America would rise again to Greatness. Problems aren’t problems because they abound with multiple complexities: problems are problems because a conspiracy of rich white men inflame our fears, the better to feast on our sweet, sweet tears.
And if people would just Stop Arguing and Do As We Say, everything would be fine.