NY Times

Why ‘The Newsroom’ Creator Aaron Sorkin and HBO Are Defending the Show

Dec 9, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Aaron Sorkin and HBO are defending a recent episode of “The Newsroom” in the face of intense criticism and questions as to whether the episode should even have aired at all.

In what The New York Times calls “an astonishing case of prescience,” the plot of the HBO show on Sunday revolved around a subject that the country has been debating in real life this weekend: campus rape and journalism ethics. The real-world debate has taken place in response to problems discovered in a recent Rolling Stone article about an accusation of gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity.

The Times writes that in the case of “The Newsroom,” “Mr. Sorkin presented an argument that some critics found disparaged the credibility of rape victims.”

Just one example of the outrage reported by The Times: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd wrote on Jezebel.com: “The most believable aspect of this scenario is that a pompous male journalist would choose to victim-blame a woman who was raped and attempt to justify it with the weak defense that it’s about journalistic ethics.”

The plot sparked internal debate at the show, as well; one of its writers, Alena Smith, said Monday that she had been expelled from the writers’ room over her complaints, which Sorkin confirmed.

Sorkin told The Times by email: “Most of the time the conflict on the show is about ideas, and frequently those conflicts stoke a lot of passionate debate in the days that follow a broadcast. I understood going in that there would be backlash — some of it thoughtful, some of it less so — but that’s a bad reason not to write something.”

The-Newsroom-season-3-HBO“The Newsroom”


  1. Once again, Aaron is handing a sensitive issue with what we would hope real newsrooms would grapple with. We have gotten away with reporting news with depth and insight and instead just report the gore and mayhem. We thought last night’s episode was fantastic and thought provoking and will miss this incredible series. There seems to be no one “out there” who writes as well as Aaron Sorkin.

  2. I think Russ meant to say “done away with reporting news with depth and insight” or “gotten away from…” but either way, he’s right. When a station in the top 10 markets leads off their 6PM newscast with a story about A DOG BITING A DOG, we have done away with journalism altogether. And what’s worse, this has recently become the number one station in the market!

    I have not been able to watch this show because I don’t have cable, but The West Wing was so brilliant, that I bought the series on disc.

    Aaron, PLEASE come back to broadcast TV!

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