I've not been watching The Newsroom despite my unreasonably vigorous love for Aaron Sorkin's writing because HBO are numbskulls and won't take my money. But I've been catching clips that people have been circulating and I've been unimpressed by them.
Take the very first scene, which really made the rounds.
It's a gorgeous piece of television, no doubt. Sorkin's article How To Write an Aaron Sorkin Script, by Aaron Sorkin article explains some of why, in some justifiable bragging. I'm not immune to the flavor of patriotism it's playing on. But “we fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons”? That's a self-satisfied misreading of American history that I would like to believe ... but I regard it as dangerous precisely because it's such a tasty thing to want to believe.
Then today I saw this clip come up on Facebook:
OK, that's satisfying for a lefty like me for the obvious reasons. A selection of the progressive blogosphere's greatest hits set to music? Oh yeah.
But why do we get Will McAvoy telling us that he's a Republican, that the Tea Party don't represent the real Republican party? It's not just Sorkin trying to hide that he's cribbing from the left-o-sphere again. There's something else.
I presume that Sorkin is trying to preëmpt a criticism that he's just portraying Republicans as a bunch of mustache-twirling villains. See, he protests, my protagonist, the hero of the show, he's a Republican! But to do that we have to believe that there are a great many McAvoys out there who are shocked, shocked to see these right-wing crazies sweeping in and claiming the mantle of the Grand Old Party. Yet the Tea Party is the Republican base who have formed the core of Republican ideology and electoral strategy since Nixon. Anyone paying attention should know this, but Will McAvoy, supposed ace newshound and teller of truths, doesn't.
I smell another manifestation of the Cult of Moderateness. You see Jon Stewart hint at it. It's the animating spirit of Obama-ism. If we could just tone down the crazies on both sides, American politics could be reasonable and we could work out our differences. It's a tasty thing to want to believe. But it's not true.