Ed Driscoll

The Personal is Political; The Political is Omnipresent

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, in Panama City, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Other than the trailer, which I reviewed back on April, describing it as a case of  “Deja Bulworth All Over Again,” noting its similarities to Warren Beatty’s 1998 movie about a politician discarding his inhibitions and letting his inner McGovern out, I haven’t seen any of Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom. When even the Washington Post describes their fellow liberal as having “an on-air meltdown,” you know the series may be in trouble. (But given that it’s airing on Time-Warner-CNN’s HBO, it will still probably air for five years, though):

Off they go, merging onto what they regard as the journalistic high road. A twist for Sorkin (but not for viewers), is that Will is a Republican who has taken it upon himself to challenge the party’s rightward fringe, providing a novel new way to present a Democratic fantasia. “I’m a registered Republican,” Will says in a prime example of elegant Sorkinese. “I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not by gay marriage.”

You know it’s only a matter of time before he starts rooting for the hurricanes.

Vogue, of all places, has a review of the series with this perfectly self-unaware note:

Although supposedly devoted to honest, truthful, old-fashioned news, Will quickly morphs into a version of Keith Olbermann, a prosecutorial anchor on the warpath against the Tea Party, whose members are all portrayed as dopes, dupes, or ignoramuses. The Newsroom makes clear that Will’s not merely in the right, but that any intelligent person knows he’s in the right, even ACN’s owner (Jane Fonda) who’s annoyed by what he’s saying but doesn’t deny its veracity. The show’s so riddled with disapproval toward those who watch Fox News, read the tabloids, or enjoy The Real Housewives of New Jersey that it reinforces the cliché of liberals, especially Hollywood liberals, as smug elitists who reflexively look down on anyone who doesn’t agree.

Yes, indeed it’s purely a cliche that liberals are smug elitists. Fortunately, the management of Vogue disproves that theory on a monthly basis. But heck, you can make up your own mind when you — yes you! — have dinner with the magazine’s editor:

At Ricochet, Jonathan Horn describes Sorkin’s series as a case of “Drama as Politics By Other Means On ‘The Newsroom:'”

Based on details included in The Washington Post’s review, “The Newsroom” appears to be more of the same: an anchor who explodes in defiant rage when asked why America is the best country (I hear China is very nice for reporters), a producer’s  mandate that every story shall be instructive for voters (those silly people who don’t know what to do unless told), and the obligatory good Republican (the most trite of television tropes) who supports Democrats down the line and wonders where the rest of his party went wrong.

In that sense, Sorkin may be on to something, as Ace wrote back in April, when the Washington Post admitted burying a story on ObamaCare increasing the deficit because they didn’t want the story to go viral, Ace noted a sea change that’s occurred in news rooms across the country. “The media is no longer in the information business,” he wrote. “They are in the instruction business:”

This is an important distinction.

If you’re in the information business, your stock in trade is information. You have no particular concern about how that information will be received, or interpreted, or used for making political arguments. That’s not your business– you are in the business of data, not Narrative and not the internal contents of your readers’ minds.

You are not your readers’ minders, nor their tutors: You stand equal to them. They are citizens are you are citizens; you have no special insight into The Truth, and they no special disadvantage in discovering The Truth.

Now, if you’re in the Instruction business, things are quite different. You stand not as an equal with your readers, but as a Teacher. And, worse yet, they are Children in need of your guidance.

You cannot just offer information willy-nilly to children. You cannot tell them, for example, that the odds of a heterosexual, non-intervenous drug user contracting the AIDS virus are trivially low, or they will Draw The Wrong Conclusions from this.

You must be protective of Children, who are, in final analysis, incompetent (legally as well as actually) individual who need to be told what to think and how to think. You cannot give them license to think whatever they like, for they are not mature enough for that.

They haven’t yet learned the skill of thinking.

Thus, everything you tell a child must be with rounded corner and soft padding. Children are dangerous, after all, to themselves and others, if not properly minded at every moment.

Why do people — and not just strong partisans, but most anyone who isn’t a diehard liberal partisan — hate the media?

Because of this, this belief of the media that we wish or need their Instruction in ordering our lives and ordering our thoughts.

Just as newsmen typically don’t admit their biases until they’ve retired, their fellow “liberal” politicians in DC, a la Bulworth, will cop to this when they’re headed out the door as well.

Though as Horn notes at Ricochet, fish don’t they’re wet:

Put aside Sorkin’s penchant for highbrow, snappy banter so perfectly orchestrated that dialogue between characters merely serves to insert colons and line breaks into the writer’s own monologue. If the reviews are accurate — the bet here is they are — “The Newsroom” shares a disturbing quality with other recent Sorkin scripts. Politics infect every word.

All the while, the author of those words claims he’s not at all political:

Writer/director Aaron Sorkin told the New York Times that his new HBO series “The Newsroom” has a bias toward either party [sic] because he doesn’t have one.

Said Sorkin: “I have no political background, and I have no political agenda. I do think that there are going to be people who say that I’m just putting my own politics on display. Which again I’m not. I don’t really have my own politics. I’m very easily convinced of other people’s position.”

But it didn’t take long for Jeff Bercovici to find that Sorkin gave 19 separate campaign contributions totaling $144,500 since 2007. Every one of those contributions went to a Democratic candidate or group.

Congratulations, Aaron, you’ve entered territory that Jonah Goldberg mined extensively in The Tyranny of Cliches.