I Remembered, I Run A News Division: Newsroom Thread


I mean it, it’s different this time. It’s really special. You wouldn’t understand.

I’m going to take a page from Aaron Sorkin’s book and tell you why smarter people than I am are absolutely wrong.Pierce:

Cronkite did his famous “We are mired in a stalemate” in 1968, which was about six years at least after said stalemate was obvious to people like Neil Sheehan. A year after Cronkite’s broadcast, a solid plurality of Americans polled were still in favor of “total military victory,” whatever the hell that meant, and the war groaned on for four more years, more than 20,000 more dead Americans, and god alone knows how many more dead Asian peasants. Murrow certainly contributed to Joseph McCarthy’s downfall, but not as much as Joseph Welch did, and Murrow did it while still hosting a show where he had to ask Liberace when he was planning to get married. Sorkin is so attached to his own personal Great Man theory that he applies it retroactively to events most of his audience is old enough to have lived through, and, at those moments, he seems to be relying on the general American historical amnesia so many of his characters spend so much time decrying.

Spoilers within.

Here’s what I think this is. I don’t think it’s clinging to something that never was, though that certainly wouldn’t be unusual. That’s us, guys, that’s everybody all the time about everything. I think it’s this: We don’t remember the war the way the war happened. We remember the war the way we have to in order to survive the next one. And plenty of people in the news business have decided not to survive the next one, and the people who are left aren’t doing so great, so maybe it’s time for a story or two.

People I already want to kiss with tongue: Jim Harper, understanding that your sister and your college roommate are also your sources and so you WILL use them if you have to. Mackenzie, defying my dislike of the name Mackenzie for its overuse, being what if Leo McGarry was a woman and for saying that she was Don Quixote and Will was the horse. Maggie. Oh, my God, Maggie. I need a Maggie in my life. Who wants to be my Maggie? I promise to remember your name and not throw stuff at you.

CHARLIE. Charlie, Charlie, glorious Charlie, I am already over the moon. I fucking loved every second he was on the screen, I kicked my feet with joy. Part of the crack-up that was Studio 60 was that it wanted to be this show and wasn’t, true, but part of it was also that it lacked the heavy center, the perspective point, the person who came along and said you know what, fuck your adolescent bullshit. Sports Night, the only other show I’ve ever seen get a newsroom dynamic right, had Isaac, who served that purpose.

(I’m still on the fence about the whole “setting the story in the recent past” trick; it’s good because you don’t need a lot of context, but the “ripped from the headlines” thing could get old. This was the first ep. I’m being patient with it.)

Will. Of course Will is problematic. He’s tremendously problematic. Sorority girl, really? PUNJAB? Here’s the thing: This isn’t a show about nice people. I don’t think Will is supposed to be the hero. I think he’s supposed to be the center. Pierce compares Charlie to Jed Bartlet but I found Will to be closer to Mr. President: The guy who everybody is busting their asses for, who really can be a total jackass when you get right down to it. Nobody that powerful isn’t a motherfucker in a lot of ways, because our society doesn’t hand you power for being quietly decent. I don’t think we’re supposed to admire Will, which is great because I spent the whole episode wanting to kick him in the dick.

I think the weight of this settled in at the end when Charlie said it:And then I remembered: I run a news division.All the nostalgia in the world is pointless unless you use it to fuel your actions here and now. Longing for the good old days is bullshit unless you’re committed to creating them in the present, and you have the power to do that and it is a sin if you do not. You remember a time when we didn’t suck? Me too. It’s called TOMORROW, and you can start by not sucking yourself. These are choices we’ve made. Stop pretending they’re inevitabilities when they are excuses.

I hope the show doesn’t undersell that. I hope the show is about that, because I’ve been jonesing for a show about that for a period of time known as MY ENTIRE LIFE.


10 thoughts on “I Remembered, I Run A News Division: Newsroom Thread

  1. Just watched it tonight. I agree witcha, Chief. Guess it’s time for the pundit gaggle to gang up on Sorkin or something. Not sure that they saw the saw show I did. And Sam Waterston does indeed rock.

  2. Well, and most of the crit seems to be that he himself is an asshole, which, yeah. He is. So is Buzz Bissinger, so is Mark Bowden, but Friday Night Lights and Black Hawk Down are great books. 90 percent of what David Simon says about journalism makes me want to tear my hair out. The Wire is still the greatest thing anyone has ever done, next to maybe Generation Kill.
    What’s amusing to me is that everything people are bitching the most about — the sexism, the hostility toward youth, suspicion of anything newfangled like the Interwebs, etc — were more than present in Sports Night, which we now view as unadulterated genius. And I gotta say, the sexism and hostility toward youth reminded me of nothing so much as ACTUALLY WORKING IN A NEWSROOM, where okay, nobody called me honey, but plenty of old guys acted plenty threatened by my being 23 and able to string two words together. I got called shallow and entitled a dozen times a day. I was told by one boss, who had serious problems distinguishing his female staffers from substitute wives/girlfriends, that I couldn’t possibly know anything about taxation issues until I had a mortgage. These attitudes are realistic. They’re not admirable. I feel like everybody watched the first ten minutes in which Will acted like a cock, and didn’t watch him get schooled by everybody else for it for the remaining 65.
    (I am taking what I believe is unfair criticism of this show and to a lesser extent Sorkin very personally this week, for some reason. It is making me actually upset.)

  3. remember when there was news instead of talking head vs talking head. it wasn’t opinion, it was cutting the bullshit.
    i caught the end trying to get my vampires. soap opera w/ better writting or FANTASY GNEWS. i had the same probs with west wing. the reality liberals wish it was. well, reality says you get puppy blitzer and bill o’really.

  4. Humans tend not to think of the now as having the context and density of the past, which is why we spend so much time trying to recreate something that may never have existed and, in the process, fuck up the future. Our future is redeemable, if we’ll just let it.

  5. Yes, dan, that sentence will own the time-space continuum for several planetary cycles. Just don’t ask me which ones.

  6. It would be nice if they could sell the world on the benefits of good journalism by showing that all those developments about the BP oil spill actually took effort over a span of weeks, instead of pretending that all that information was discovered through a couple Lexus Nexus searches in a single afternoon.

  7. We watched, I liked.
    Amusing the really negative reviews the show got though, not just from predictable hippie-bashing outlets either. Even EW didn’t like it. Ah well, Time Warner, what can you say? My guess is the media doesn’t like being told it’s to blame for everything sucking right now.

  8. You remember a time when we didn’t suck? Me too. It’s called TOMORROW, and you can start by not sucking yourself.
    I think this just became my new motto for life.

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