I've been watching the first season of The Newsroom. It is on HBO, and it was created and is largely written by Aaron Sorkin, who gave us The West Wing. The Newsroom is about a news program, which is anchored by Will McAvoy, who (along with his producer, an ex-flame) has decided to shift his program from its less-than-serious nature to one that gives the "facts" and asks guests the hard questions.
I like the program because it is
inspirational and funny, and McAvoy, while he is clearly an arrogant
jerk, is still somehow loveable (as were all of the jerks on The West Wing).
My problem with the show has been that it has presented conservatives
as mindless dunces. When McAvoy has had conservative guests on his
show, they usually had this deer-in-the-headlights look. In my opinion,
that is not only unrealistic, but it also does not make for good
entertainment. You may think that conservatives are not particularly
bright and that their policies are damaging to the country, but I've
seen and read plenty of conservatives who are well-read, who are able to
convey an argument, and who do not have that deer-in-the-headlights
look whenever they're challenged. Moreover, it would be more
entertaining to me to see McAvoy actually have to engage in rhetorical
combat with formidable opponents rather than mowing his guests down on a
I saw an exception to the rule in an episode that I
watched last night, entitled "Bullies." McAvoy has on his program an
African-American homosexual professor who (surprise!) is an adviser to
Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum. In the style of
Lawrence O'Donnell, McAvoy ties to mow the professor down with the same
questions over and over: How can the professor defend Rick Santorum's
comments regarding homosexuality? The professor meekly replies that
Santorum has treated him with the utmost respect over the years, and
that he does not agree with everything Santorum has said. As the
professor is continually harangued by McAvoy, however, the professor
eventually loses his cool. The professor fights back, saying that he is
not defined by his race, his sexual orientation, or even by McAvoy, who
in his narrow-mindedness presumes to know what someone like the
professor should believe and do. The professor says that he does not
need McAvoy's help, and that he is supporting Rick Santorum because he
believes that Santorum is the best candidate in the race when it comes
to protecting the lives of the unborn.
To his credit, McAvoy is
silent as he is taken to the woodshed by the professor, but, as is often
the case in Sorkin's political dramas, the left gets the last word.
McAvoy then asks the professor if Santorum believes that the professor
is fit to teach, and the professor quietly and solemnly responds, "no."
McAvoy is seeing a therapist, McAvoy eventually acknowledges that he
was being a bully in that interview. McAvoy also remarks that he
managed to upset the religious right, African-Americans, and gays in one
interview, and I got a laugh out of that! In any case, I hope that
there are more episodes of The Newsroom in which intelligent
conservatives fight back----and both sides (if we can truly reduce
people to "sides," which is doubtful) end up learning something in the
To watch the scene, see here.