‘The Newsroom’: Politics in grasp of pop culture

Posted Saturday, Sep. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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greene We hear a lot about the influence of the pop culture on children. With the bad behavior of many rock stars and some athletes, there’s good reason to worry about youngsters believing they should emulate their perverted, objectionable, anti-social lifestyles.

Yet, there’s plenty of risk to adults too, especially when it is the intention of purveyors of political ideology to get inside the heads of an unguarded audience through the art of entertainment.

Perhaps the best practitioner of that stealth agenda is Hollywood writer, producer, director and über-liberal Aaron Sorkin.

If you don’t recognize his name, you may know of him as the creator of the NBC television series The West Wing. It was a long-running show about a mythical president named Josiah Bartlet that Sorkin conjured up as a replacement for the actual president of the time, George W. Bush.

It was a way for Sorkin and his audience to get their minds off the fact that, in real life, a conservative had moved into the White House.

His latest production, The Newsroom, just completed its second season on HBO.

The show is a testament to Sorkin’s ability to keep viewers anxiously awaiting the next episode. Each is laced with rapid-fire witty dialogue delivered by talented and appealing actors, including Jeff Daniels, who just won a best-actor Emmy.

What is not so evident is Sorkin’s use of the story lines he develops.

By the end of the season he has managed to promote all the liberal causes currently in play and make conservatives look like enemies of the state.

His principal tool in the series is the main character, a fictitious television news anchor named Will McAvoy, a self-declared Republican.

Through McAvoy, Sorkin creates the appearance that the show will develop some conservative values as a balance to the usual Hollywood practice of promoting liberal causes.

But any expectations of a fair portrayal of Republicans via the McAvoy character are never going to be fulfilled.

The fake television network in the series reports on actual events that have occurred in the last year or two, such as the BP oil spill, a concocted Koch brothers conspiracy, trashing Republican presidential candidates via vicious commentary, attacking states’ voter ID laws, portraying the Mitt Romney campaign with disdain, championing the Occupy Wall Street anarchists and, in the final episode, portraying a very self-satisfied attitude when reporting Barack Obama’s reelection. It goes on and on.

Sorkin’s dissing of conservatives hit a crescendo in the first season when he had McAvoy declaring the Tea Party to be denying science, unmoved by facts, needing to control women’s bodies, demonizing education and having a pathological hatred of the U.S. government.

He calls them the “American Taliban.” He gets into big trouble on the show for saying that, but the message is delivered with a bang as you imagine liberals everywhere nodding in agreement.

It’s all very clever and is ultimately transparent, revealing the mission of bringing voters into the Democratic fold by making them believe what they are seeing is reality.

At the end of the second season, Sorkin presents a sequence in which McAvoy makes a mockery of his scant credentials.

When asked by a guest on the election night broadcast if he is really a Republican, he says he is because he believes in “market solutions, common sense realities and the necessity to defend ourselves against a dangerous world and that’s about it.”


Because my wife and I appreciate the talent on and behind the screen, no matter the message, we will be joining those awaiting the show’s third season.

While the work product of a gifted writer is captivating us, just remember this: We are being conned. Don’t be.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor who served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. mayorgreene@mayorgreene.com

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