The eyerolls come quickly when watching Aaron Sorkin’s wretched new HBO news drama, The Newsroom. We’re introduced to mostly pointless, unthreatening cable news host Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) sitting on a college journalism and/or politics panel (they’re the same thing in Sorkin’s world anyway). A man and woman bicker in the typical talking point checklist familiar to cable news network viewers (of slight point of interest, the debate indicates a progressive/libertarian divide rather than a left/right one, but it’s just a meaningless framing device and not an indicator of anything to come).
A student asks an incredibly stupid question about what makes America the greatest country on earth, a question no actual student would ever ask. McAvoy, inexplicably pressed by the panel moderator for a real answer (rather than a joke about the New York Jets), blows up, slips into a paternalistic rant, insulting the student (who is of course a young blonde girl), and spitting out a list of improbably memorized context-free nation rankings as proof that America isn’t the bestest thing ever.
McAvoy’s rant ultimately leads to most of his staff abandoning him for a new show on the same network and his boss, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston, engaged in a permanent “Who’s a bigger blowhard?” fight with Daniels), bringing in McAvoy’s ex-girlfriend Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer as some sort of human blur) to get McAvoy’s show back on track.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by Scott Shackford.