I watched Sorkin’s latest, The Newsroom during its debut on HBO, June 24, 2012. It was among his most improbable scripts, and a triumph in progressive chutzpah. For its mission statement is no less than the setting of America on a course that would have pleased the most significant ultra-liberal theologians of the last three centuries.
Among its implausibilities is the phenomenal memory of its lead character, “Will McAvoy” played by Jeff Daniels, who slightly resembles the author himself. “Will” is on a panel at Northwestern University, flanked by a Republican on one side, and a Democrat on the other. He is allegedly the moderate Republican who wants to please everybody. But when queried by a blonde co-ed, who hopes he will ratify her notion that America is the “greatest country in the world”, Will, at first mumbling something about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as revolutionary, switches his rap and goes off on a tirade quoting the low ranking of the US in achievements, a ratatat of rankings displaying a memory like a computer. He was coached by an unidentified woman in the audience who holds up signs indicating that we could be the greatest country in history, if we [repent ] and recognize our deficiencies. Obviously, Sorkin has designs on the HBO audience, who, sadly, probably will eat this stuff up.
Turns out that Will McAvoy is the anchor of a nightly news show on a fictional cable network named for Atlantis (ACN). He returns to the newsroom only to discover that his staff has decamped with his co-anchor, leaving a saving remnant. Sam Waterston plays the head of the News division, and lingers on the greatness of Murrow and Cronkite, hoping to resuscitate their integrity as fearless purveyors of the truth. The rest of the episode is devoted to the astonishing feat, aided by his new, at first unwanted, “E.P.” (executive producer, “MacKenzie McHale” played by Emily Mortimer), in delivering the kind of exemplary investigative reporting that will make us proud to be liberal Americans.
We suddenly find ourselves back in summer, 2010 at the moment of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A very young producer, of Ivy League background, turns out to have contacts with both BP and Halliburton, the latter are manufacturers of the ostensibly defective concrete that allowed the catastrophe. Through the swiftly achieved cooperation of the mostly young people in the newsroom, ACN scoops the rest of the media with not only authoritative interviews with honchos, but, thanks to Will’s almost magical ability to do arithmetic in his head, gets an inspector of the oil platforms to admit that the inspection team assembled by the [evil] oil company could not possibly do its job. Competing networks, devoid of these fast-thinking, high-minded, adrenalin-hyped news gatherers, must do with limp reportage of “search and rescue” operations.
Aaron Sorkin has created two new superheroes, both with Scottish clan names. Thus Will and MacKenzie are doubles, and ex-lovers. Braveheart anyone? Not to worry about the 2012 election: America is back on the path to Freedom from Big Oil, at least on HBO at 10pm, Sunday nights. For the agenda being served by Sorkin and his affinity group, see http://tinyurl.com/7ryo95l . [Added, 7-24-12: in episode 5, Sorkin glorified the uprising in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, as well as the uprising of the teachers union in Wisconsin. In HBO “Buzz”, Sorkin reaffirmed his belief in a pre-Bush America [that now has lost its way, with the rise of Fox News and the Tea Party]. Read this blog along with http://clarespark.com/2012/08/26/democratic-party-talking-points-2012/.