Sorkin Sees Not Liberal Bias But ‘Bias Toward Fairness,’ His HBO Newsroom Will Chastise Tea Party

Writer/producer Aaron Sorkin, whose new drama, Newsroom, about a cable news anchor -- which debuts this Sunday night on HBO -- proved in a USA Today piece he lives in a fantasy world. First, he maintained that when watching broadcast network news “I don’t see the liberal bias — and I’m trying to — that I hear about,” insisting: “What I do see is a bias toward fairness, a bias toward neutrality...”

Second, in the imaginary world he created for HBO, he inserts liberal bias by having his lead character castigate the Tea Party from the left, which – implausibly – upsets network executives. USA Today recounted how cable news anchor “Will McAvoy,” played by Jeff Daniels, “goes after the Tea Party activists and billionaire Koch brothers who helped fund it for seizing control of the Republican Party, earning the ire of the network’s parent company, led by...”

That would be....Jane Fonda. That’s right, he wants the audience to buy Jane Fonda as some sort of Romney-backing corporate suit disturbed by liberal bias on her network.

Also from the beyond the believable file: “McAvoy is a moderate Republican, former district attorney and speechwriter for the elder President Bush.”

Quite believable: Journalistic admiration for McAvoy’s denunciation of the Tea Party: “Parallels are drawn between Will’s advocacy and Edward R. Murrow’s taking on McCarthyism in the 1950s and Walter Cronkite’s opposition to the Vietnam War.”

Earlier: “Upcoming HBO Drama: Dan Rather ‘Got It Right’ on Bush and National Guard.”

Back in October of 2010, Sorkin, who created NBC’s The West Wing, declared on CNN’s Parker Spitzer (remember that show?): “Sarah Palin’s an idiot. Come on. This is a remarkably, stunningly, jaw-droppingly incompetent and mean woman.” (NB post with video)

An excerpt from “Aaron Sorkin finds TV journalism utopia in HBO’s ‘Newsroom,’” by Gary Levin on the front of the “Life” section in Wednesday’s (June 20) USA Today:

....The big broadcast networks are flawed in a different way: “I don’t see the liberal bias — and I’m trying to — that I hear about,” he says. “What I do see is a bias toward fairness, a bias toward neutrality, a bias toward false equivalency. That if a Republican has lied, it’s important that we find a Democrat who’s lied and make them equal, whether they are or not.

“Most of us have been raised to believe that there are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And that's simply not always the case. Sometimes there are five sides to a story, but sometimes there’s just one. Sometimes the truth doesn’t lie in the middle, it lies squarely on one side or the other.” But “you’ll never hear the word ‘lie’ on network news when something is plainly a lie.”...

Though McAvoy is a moderate Republican, former district attorney and speechwriter for the elder President Bush, he goes after the Tea Party activists and billionaire Koch brothers who helped fund it for seizing control of the Republican Party, earning the ire of the network's parent company, led by Jane Fonda. Parallels are drawn between Will’s advocacy and Edward R. Murrow’s taking on McCarthyism in the 1950s and Walter Cronkite’s opposition to the Vietnam War.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center