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The Newsroom: Revealing Our Cynical View Of Journalism And Politics

Updated on October 21, 2013
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Denis is a freelancer addicted to football ('s not soccer!). He thinks POLITICS and REALITY TV were invited to dumb us down.

Emily Mortimer
Emily Mortimer | Source

The Newsroom: Overview

The new hit series (among fans - not critics), is a political drama that revolves around the newsroom of the fictional Atlanta Cable News (ACN). Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), the anchor and managing editor of ACN's News Night, discovers that Don Keefer (his executive producer played by Thomas Sadoski) has taken his staff and jumped ship to another news show.

Will has to adjust to a new staff members led by MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) - a former girlfriend. Mackenzie challenges Will to drop his populist image and actually tackle the real news and in the 'right' way. With ratings on a free-fall, Will's new direction in news reporting hardly sits well with the higher-ups.

However, with the help of a dedicated team and the patronage of ACN's news division president, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), Will and Mackenzie battle on to re-energize a seemingly tired and uninspired lame-stream media.

The show tackles real life stories, giving them what has been termed as 'naively idealistic and unrealistic' coverage. The major news events covered in season one include,

  • The death of Osama bin Laden
  • The Gulf oil spill
  • Emergence of the Tea Party movement

The show got a renewal, even though critics mercilessly assaulted it. The second season centers on a false news story about the US army using sarin gas during the Afghan war. This story is loosely based on a previously discounted story about the US using sarin during the Vietnam war. In real life, CNN and TIME magazine had been forced to retract a story, in 98', about the 'Vietnam allegations' after their sources were found to be unreliable. Other storylines include,

  • The Republican presidential nominee race
  • The Koni manhunt
  • The Occupy Wallstreet movement

No Love From The Critics

In 2012, The Newsroom premiered on HBO to very negative critical reviews. Some of the more over-the-top reviews included:

  • Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin,

Monstrously misconceived and incompetently executed, powered by a high-octane blend of arrogance and contempt, The Newsroom is an epochal failure, a program destined for television's all-time What Were They Thinking? List. Not since NASA's first Vanguard rocket blew up on its launch pad in 1957 will Americans have seen anything crash and burn on television with such hellish spectacularity.

  • Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan,

When The Newsroom isn't obvious and self-congratulatory, it's manipulative and shrieky.

  • The New Yorker's Emily Nessbaum,

The Newsroom treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid.

  • Time's James Poniewozik,

The West Wing gave us rich characters, a sense of proportionality and an infectious feeling of romance with the country and the people who want to make it better. The Newsroom, after four exhausting, smug episodes, gives us none of that: just Aaron Sorkin writing one argument after another for himself to win.

  • Salon's Willa Paskin,

The results are a captivating, riveting, rousing, condescending, smug, infuriating mixture, a potent potion that advertises itself as intelligence-enhancing but is actually just crazy-making.

Mad Men's Jon Hamm
Mad Men's Jon Hamm | Source

Politicians, Journalists and Pessimism

Most of these critical reviews expose a certain amount of cynicism that has crept into our lives. Calling a show too idealistic and unrealistic may be the politically correct way to write your review, but all you are doing is missing the point of it all.

It's one thing to criticize a show for poor plotlines and lame acting. We should certainly feel discouraged when the same journalists that the show should inspire describe it as arrogant, condescending, pretentious, sanctimonious and manipulative.

The optimistic nature of the show should challenge our view of today's society. Our society is filled with a pessimistic acceptance of moral failure. A world where,

  • Politicians have become instigators of chaos instead of bringing positive change. Oops! I take that back. Politicians have always reveled in chaos but are now taking things to the extreme - if the last US election is anything to go by. Both the Democrats and Republicans were playing fast and loose with the truth. Mitt Romney managed to win the Republican ticket and challenge Barack Obama for the presidency without giving a concrete, credible plan on how he was going to bring change if he won office. He anointed a running mate [Paul Ryan] who was even less credible. On any other day, Obama would have lost; but only survived due to the incompetent Republican attempts at discrediting him. Republicans sank to such extremes as calling Obama a socialist, Muslim and illegal immigrant who supposedly fooled the great nation that is America into giving him the presidency. Some [Donald Trump] went as far as requesting a birth certificate from the leader of the free world. In the end, Republicans lost the support of the Hispanics, African-American, Independents, Liberals, Democrats and most importantly, Women. The only way they would have won the elections was if Mitt Romney was the only candidate on the ballot; he would probably have lost to a REAL SOCIALIST! Democrats were also not devoid of criticism. Realizing that they were dealing with morons, the Democrats chose to attack Romney instead of actually providing a credible plan of their own. They knew they would win the battle of the morons as they were the least moronic of the two. They pounced at every gaff that poor Mitt made. And he was making them left, right and center.
  • Journalism does very little to help the situation. The media either seem to enjoy the chaos created by political leaders or lack the will to challenge weak and untrustworthy leadership. They have become mouthpieces for certain political agendas. America's MSNBC doesn't hide at all the fact that it has Democratic leanings while FOX News blatantly promotes a Republican agenda. On a different note, CNN seems to tow a moderate line; unable or unwilling to upset both sides. All this was clearly evident during the last election. FOX stood by a very uninspiring field of Republican candidates. Rick Perry.... Oops! Even when they made campaign-ending gaffs. CNN, on the other hand, chose to air but not question some very unreliable statements (rhetoric) from both sides.

Mad men, although fantastically acted, wins rave reviews for promoting adultery and alcoholism while The Newsroom elicits insults for exposing the failings of political America.

We need more positivity from the media. Material that doesn't just feed our dark and twisted needs. We need more shows like The Newsroom. Shows that inspire us to be better human beings, better at what we do and uncompromising when faced with moral dilemmas.

Maybe if FOX and CNN had been more critical of Mitt Romney, he wouldn't have fallen so far south of his principles just to win an election. Maybe if the media houses were more critical aware then the US presidential debates would more credible than they are right now.

We Love It!

Encouragingly, viewers seem to have to ignored these doom and gloom critical reviews from jaded journalists; because the show has a user rating of 84 on metacritic and an IMdb rating of 8.5. A clear indication of the fact we have not given up on ourselves, yet.

And, in all honesty, 'The Newsroom' should be viewed because it is fun, idealistic and most importantly, pisses off the narrow-minded, extremist right!

Who was the most laughable Republican presidential nominee in 2012 race?

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    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 4 years ago from USA

      To comment years after events occur is cowardice. For me to be dithyrambic as for the content of the show it should be in synchronicity with today's events.