Aaron Sorkin: The Newsroom is Fantasy

By Jef Dinsmore on Jul 18, 2012 to The Newsroom

Aaron Sorkin, creator behind HBO’s THE NEWSROOM, was interviewed on National Public Radio the other day. He briefly talked with Terry Gross on his show Fresh Air.

Sorkin’s latest work is either a “love it or hate it” type of show that has been criticized as a preachy soapbox for his views and a sensationalized depiction of newsroom journalism. What follows are quotes that explain his approach to THE NEWSROOM a little better.

Aaron Sorkin states that he show is a fantasy. He says “I like writing about heroes that don’t wear capes and disguises. Gee, this looks like the real world and feels like the real world — why can’t that be the real world?”

Somewhat discrediting a political agenda he stated, “I think that the critics and the audience who are reacting as hostilely to the show as they are, part of the reason is because they think that I’m showing off an intellect and an erudition that I don’t have. I’m not pretending to have it. I know that I don’t have it. I phonetically create the sound of smart people talking to each other. I’m not one of them. The characters I create would have no use for me.”

And finally, here is his reasoning for the timeline used in the show. He said, “I realized I could set the show in the recent past. My big worry was making up the news — writing fictional news — because it was just going to take us too far away from reality. … But [setting the show in the recent past] became the gift that kept on giving because you have the fun of the audience knowing more than the characters. … I know that this device has bothered some people who think that I’m leveraging hindsight into a way to make my characters stronger. That wasn’t the idea.”

So, there is an admittance here that Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is not intended to be a average real individual but a superhero of sorts. He is an idealized persona championing the cause of truth and justice. Also there is the admittance of amplifying the characters to a level that borders on not being real but keeping them grounded enough to keep them realistic.

Clearly, sounds like he is defending his effort. But, does he need to do so? What is your take based upon this short interview? Has your views changed about THE NEWSROOM now that a few episodes have aired? HBOWatch is curious for your thoughts.

  • EJ

    Perfect, imperfect – this man brings a unique perspective to actual events, what could have been behind the scenes, how some may or may not have reacted and fought their own demons – and gets everyone thinking, Personally: it’s simply brilliant and an Emmy isn’t good enough – How can we get Aaron Sorkin nominated for a Pulitzer for The Newsroom?!?!

  • jof

    this is a fantastical show but i want to know plain and simple, are the facts and news stories accurate?

  • James Robert

    While others see it differently, I liked the idea of using recent past events to show how they might have been covered more effectively. I also find the major and minor romances to be interesting. I resent the overuse of the f —word and would hope for an elemination of such crude dialogue. Because we know smoking kills in real life I would like to see it banished from the show. Finally as an independent voter I would like a more even handed approach to issues. Finally I will continue to watch it even if the changes I would like do not take place..

  • Bandes

    My thought is that the guys who schedule shows like this have no idea how #%*^} mad they make their audience. Next June for the start of Newsroom’s next season- really? This is one fan who won’t be back…

  • Kim

    I love the newsroom, brilliant show. I really hope that season two is longer, ten episodes is too short.

    Here are some things my friends are saying about the newsroom on FB:

    The Newsroom is my new favourite show. Or, the only actual show I watch. Lol. Cheers for the heads up Ashley! Check it out peeps if you haven’t already
    Like ·
    Ashley likes this.Ashley good stuff man, HBO have really outdone themselves with this oneSeptember 9 at 10:32pm · Like · 1Kierin For sure, I love how their so hard ball with the government and big money players. About time we see more of that imoSeptember 9 at 10:35pm · Like · 1Ashley but
    even tho they give government and big business a hard time they will
    turn and give representatives from opposing political alignments a hard
    time for shoddy behavior in regards to the facts. I just love how
    critical it is of everythingSeptember 9 at 10:47pm · Like · 1Ashley Once I watch Season 1, I’m going to get into the ‘West Wing’, same writerSeptember 9 at 10:49pm · Unlike · 2Kim about bloody time! ;)September 10 at 4:01pm · Like
    Tbh, this Bin Laden episode is almost ruining it for me. Such wank going on… but I’m trying to ignore it.September 12 at 7:14pm · Like
    MatthewMedia watch!September 13 at 1:44pm via mobile · Like · 1Kierin Ah
    yeah that’s a sick show! Love it. This is like a dramatisation of what
    those guy probably do in the news room. It kind of got a bit lame after
    the bin laden show tbh… But still cool. Will deffs be getting the new
    FYI we are from Australia, so the Bin Laden thing has different meaning to us than in the states. And media watch is an aussie show too that is real life and critiques mistakes made in the news media from the recent week.

    • Thanks for sharing, Kim! Glad you and your friends are loving it. I hope Aaron Sorkin continues writing for several seasons!

  • mandy

    I did not need Sorkin to directly tell me these views to figure out what he was trying to accomplish with The Newsroom. I’ve always seen the juxtaposition of real-life news events with fictional characters to be a tool he uses in creating a world that we, the viewer, are both associated with and removed from in order to indirectly (yet, very directly) comment on the biased media influences our society is subjected to. What a mouthful! But it takes a mouthful to describe The Newsroom since it is that complex! It’s undeniable that the show goes beyond the usual TV drama to stand behind a message that has gotten everyone talking! From the highest reaches of our media institutions, like this NPR interview, to the smallest circles around my office at Dish, everyone has something to say about The Newsroom; that alone makes the show worth checking out to me! I am not saying the show is flawless, as demonstrated by the weak episode four, but it is at least worthy of a spot on my DVR recording list. I am the only advocate of the series in my household but, luckily, we have the Hopper DVR that is known for its ability to record up to six things at once, so they can stick to their shows and I will stick to mine. I would recommend The Newsroom to anyone who wants a show that makes them think!

  • Aida Spradlin

    I luv you HBO…. I luv the Newsroom…have all my friends watching…why should heros only wear tights and a cape… We can dream about heros and who knows maybe it will inspire some …keep up the fantastic work Mr Sorkin…wear the the bad press as a badge of honor…your not milk toast you make a difference….

  • Im not sure who thought that Jeff Daniels was an actual news anchor in the first place, right? It’s not historical fiction. This isn’t a John Adams mini-series based on a historical document. THIS IS EXACTLY LIKE THE WEST WING! It’s over the top drama, rose colored glasses, the hero always wins.

    I’m really getting sick of these critics who say they loved the West Wing but then come back and say “The Newsroom isn’t accurate”. What short memories these people have! Naustalgia must be blinding them because The Newsroom is a true successor to The West Wing if I’ve ever seen one (which is an awesome thing IMO).

Find an HBO Series

More HBO

Subscribe to HBO
Countries HBO Is In
Watch Game of Thrones Online
Watch The Leftovers Online
Watch Silicon Valley Online
HBO Premiere & Air Dates
True Detective Streaming
Other Streaming Television
HBO Boxing Live Stream
Game of Thrones on DVD & Blu-Ray
Watch Cinemax Online