Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The first episode of Aaron Sorkin's newest coitusless interruptathon is out, and I like it way less than I'd like to.  Newsroom is a one-hour drama centered around a one-hour news show, which sounds as if it would inspire you to immediate narcolepsy were it not for your longstanding, inexplicable, and not entirely proper fascination with Jim Lehrer.

Not that you know anyone like that.

I wanted Newsroom to be both intricate and fast-paced, in the manner of a Robert Altman film or -hey, it's true- a Tina Fey sketch, and to some degree it is.  But it's also not cool.

You know what I mean.  You may pretend you don't, that you've forgotten Middle School and its attendant terrors, the maneuvering, like so many social battleships, of seventh graders though the stormy pubertal sea.  But you know who wasn't cool in Middle School?

You.  Because you cared.

Newsroom cares, too.  It projects an aura of coolness, with its snappy dialogue, its fashionably offbeat cast.  It's got the right clothes.  But as soon as you think, hey, this kid's not so bad, Newsroom invites you down to its rec room for a glass of chocolate milk an earnest discussion of climate change.

Climate change standing in, of course, for the colossal failure of television news networks to deliver, well, news.   It's not news, either, this failure.  Journalism is an onanistic industry, and Sorkin is more than a decade beyond the feverish burst of self-flagellation surrounding the rise (stop me?) of Fox News.  The waning of objectivity in Journalism is a story that's played out; yet Sorkin, curiously, seems determined to break it.


I'm not one for speechifying.  Or, truth be told, for network news.  There are too many constraints on TV journalism, and not enough space for investigation or imagination, those twin lodestars of print.

Instead of Newsroom, a show not even a deliciously nerdy supporting cast can save, I recommend an hour curled up on the couch with the latest issue of the New Yorker -its coverage ranging, in this issue, from the Guadalajara drug wars to a University of Chicago scavenger hunt.  I laughed.  I cried.  I turned the page.

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