Why ‘The Newsroom’ Is Good News for Conservatives

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Pages: 1 2

The last time Aaron Sorkin had a high-profile political television show, progressives used it to cope with the decline and fall of the Clinton Presidency and the long winter of the Bush Years. The West Wing was a coping mechanism for the death of a leftist dream, and so is The Newsroom. Both are an escape into fantasy to avoid dealing with the harsh reality.

On an episode of Seinfeld, George is stung by an insult but is unable to think of a retort, so he spends days trying to come up with the perfect comeback, until he finally thinks of it and travels around the country to get the chance to deliver it. The Newsroom, set in the past, and jumping in right before the political balance tilted toward the Republicans in the mid-term elections, is the same thing.

The Newsroom is Sorkin’s sad attempt to win an argument by rewriting history and coming up with all the comebacks that his side couldn’t think of two years ago. It’s the sad and pathetic spectacle of an ideology creating its own fantasy version of its reality in which it won the argument. And the existence of The Newsroom is the greatest possible admission of leftist defeat.

The Newsroom is a safer outlet for leftist anger than Occupy Wall Street. It’s a miniature universe in which they are smarter, nobler and better than everyone else. And it’s not only an admission of defeat, but of emotional and mental fragility. Adults don’t need to build fantasy worlds to escape the effects of their failures on their precious self-esteem. That’s for overgrown children who are used to getting trophies for just showing up.

The Newsroom is the kid that everyone hated losing his race for class president and creating a fantasy world in which he won the election and everyone cheered on his obnoxious tantrums. It may not be good for him, but it’s good for us because it means he hasn’t learned to win. All he has learned to do is manage the emotional experience of defeat through delusions of superiority.

Propaganda that tells you that you won, when you actually lost, is corrosive; it inhibits any serious self-evaluation. And without some soul-searching and error-checking, the same mistakes are bound to be repeated over and over again. Seventeen years after the Clinton Presidency was nearly torpedoed by universal health care, his party’s successor, who defeated the woman who shaped the initiative, went down the same road, but with much less caution.

That kind of stupidity would not have been possible if the winners had learned any lessons from the past. But the winners had been living on The West Wing, where the progressives never lose, because the scripts are written that way. Rather than living in the real Clinton Years, many of them had been living in the imaginary version. Now, rather than remembering the actual Obama Years, they will remember The Newsroom‘s fictional version of them. And they will make the same mistakes all over again.

HBO, which has invested big in progressive propaganda, knows exactly what it’s doing. At a time when customers are dropping cable, particularly the high-priced packages, it is insulating itself with a built-in audience. Forget MSNBC or Comedy Central with their tantrums against real-life Republicans, on HBO, leftists can go on safe safaris to see experienced progressive hunters taking potshots at imaginary Republicans.

When the real-life Republicans are just too scary, the good progressive flees to HBO, where the Republicans are just waiting to be deflated with a smarmy line about school prayer, science or terrorism. Just as the family sitcom reassured viewers about the state of the nuclear family, HBO reassures leftists about the state of their ideology, nurturing them and coddling them, until they are ready to reemerge at the next political rally.

Pages: 1 2

  • JohnnyRed

    >>>But the media’s last shreds of credibility come from its pretense that it is neutral…

    Is that true of Fox, as well, or just other 'media?'

    It seems to me that "the day that news anchors routinely take to the air, announce their political affiliation" happens every day on Fox.

    • Judas

      Fact is though that true Conservatives view Fox as too moderate. The biggest bias in media is what it is they do and do not report, not how they report it. Fox reports the same stories as MSNBC and CNN and the rest of them. So Fox has Op-ed show hosts that lean center/right, we all agree on that. The key is to extract the opinion shows or panel shows even, and compare their "News Readers'. Fox isn't as biased as they are made out to be. In reverse, you got NBC who through creative editing can twist a story. And in the interest of balance, FOX or NBC tend to neglect the stories that may leave a tarnish on the resident of the WH. Fox was just as guilty of the Arab Spring poor reporting as NBC or any other outlet. They reported all the negatives from Iraq and Afghanastan and ignored the positives just like the rest of the media. The "Fox is bias" mantra is a fantasy.

  • Judas

    Liberal/Progressives = George Costanza! Brilliant analogy. Reminds me of another episode, where George and Jerry run into their old PE teacher, a guy who used to bully George, and even as a middle aged man he still had not got over it. The taunting echoing in George's mind of the coach referring to him as "Can'tstandya" is the Progressive "Hanging Chad"…

    • kong.ming

      That's an insult … to Costanza, although I do see some similarities:

      "So when did you become a lesbian?"
      "Actually it was right after dating you."

  • Hollywood writer

    I so agree with this theory. Many years ago my friends and I encountered the most vicious and rude waitress you could ever meet. But being the milksops we are we just paid the bill and left.

    Then, two months later, I wrote the script for the movie “The accused”.

    Now and then I watch it with a smile and think about what could have been.

    • tagalog

      I guess you showed her. Too bad she'll never get it.

      • A. G. Topor

        Firstly, Mr. Hollywood Writer, no way you're Tom Topor.
        Secondly, no respectable Christian nor any human being with dignity for that matter would ever think of 'showing her', as tagalog put it, in the way the bar mob 'showed her' in the film.
        Your misogynic comment has no taste, and no honour. The real Tom Topor would be offended, as he stands for the rights of women.

  • Larry

    I have no problems what so ever with a media outlet, be it print, TV, or radio, being blatantly biased.

    Just as long as they don't pee in my pocket by telling me that they are "fair and balanced". If you have a bias, come out and say so. Plenty of newspapers have done so in the past, some, in other countries, still do so.

    Just stop lying about your bias.

  • Wally

    Time to go back to English 101 – grammatically and stylistically this article just doesn't cut the mustard.

    • Spedly

      And??? I didn't realize this was a beauty contest. I hope I speak for most here when I say: "It is the content that matters."

      Grammarian Fobs, such as yourself, need to find better things to do than post the equivalent of "Sez you!" on an editorial comment board. Egad, what a loser.

      • Spedly

        Make that "Grammarian Fops". Whoops!

  • Ghostwriter

    I haven't seen "The Newsroom." In fact,I don't have HBO. It's too expensive for me to watch.

  • Jim

    I think the News Room is more like a training ground for up and coming liberals. It gives lines and comebacks and is very redundant as if they were trying to hammer the comebacks into the viewers head.

    The fake forced laughter is used to con the young trainee into thinking the comeback really are devastating .

    Rather Pavlovian eh wot?

  • alan g

    I watched the show. I agree completely about your article. I did try to keep an opened mind, knowing that Aaron Sorkin produced the show. The show started out interesting. The ranting by Jeff Daniels showed that his acting had matured to my mind. I let a lot of the comments go. But there was one thing that stuck to me that was very suttle, They made a passing jab at James O'keefe. I doubt if anyone who watched the show knew or cared who he was. But I do. I am willing to see the show again just to see how balanced they claim they want to be

  • Schlomotion

    I remember when the Berlin Wall fell and enraged soci.alist professors had to turn to academic writing to fight for the Fourth International (or else write historical biographies of the elite). This is no different. Mr. Greenfield is simply fighting in the post-Zionist era for Zionism in the medium of nighttime television drama. Because shaking your fist at the television gives you yardage in the West Bank. It would have been even funnier of the star of the show were Dennis Haysbert, because then Mr. Greenfield could whip out the zodiacal diagrams that somehow implicate Al Sharpton.

    • Ghostwriter

      Why do you have to include Jews in every post you write,Schlomotion? It's getting real old real fast.

      • Schlomotion

        Why do you have to exclude them?

  • matthewdsegall

    Conservativism used to be respectable, and maybe it still is where it hasn't been co-opted by the Koch funded Tea Party Movement (TM). Speaking of living in an ideologically constructed fantasy universe, we now have congressmen and women in office who think evolution and climate change are a liberal conspiracy. I guess I'm just an academic elite for finding this frightening.

  • kayla

    It is so funny to compare The Newsroom to that episode in Seinfeld. The jerk store comeback has been a favorite of mine for years! LOL! As funny as that association is, I think that The Newsroom’s use of real news in this, otherwise, fictional world serves more so as a great tool to deliver societal commentary to the viewer. I believe Sorkin juxtaposes factual events with fictional characters to dissociate us, the viewer, from the situation in order to truly observe the heavy influences our bias media intuitions may have on us; to me, that is what makes The Newsroom so brilliant and worthwhile! Whether you agree or not, one thing I think we can see eye-to-eye on is that the show has created quite the buzz, and that is what also makes it so worthwhile! From the tippy top of our new sources (NPR, The New York Times, etc) to a small circle of my Dish coworkers at lunch, everyone has something to say about The Newsroom. This stir of conversation is the reason why the show has crept its way to the first spot on my DVR priority recording list. However, I’m not sure it will remain there since I’ve been rather disappointed with the last two episodes. At least I have the Hopper DVR that is known for its loads of recording space so, if the show does turn out to be as lame as you make it seem, at least I didn’t sacrifice substantial memory on it. Till then, I’m excited to see what else Sorkin has in store for us!

  • occam's razor

    So the solution to the left's self important echo chambers where conservatives are reduced to caricatures…is creating a conservative self-important echo chamber where liberals are reduced to caricatures?

  • Kfir

    The left is losing? Then why is the once-greatest nation on Earth looking more and more like Europe as each hour passes? The outrageous implications of obamacare are now the new normal in this country. It’s time to launch a sustained cultural offensive to enlighten the masses and show them that this country was founded with a blueprint designed to make us all kings, and why the policies of the current administration and its ilk are driven by a blueprint designed to make us all peasants.

  • Ronald

    If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it.