HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ to End After Third Season

The Newsroom, HBO’s low-rated series about a fictional television news channel will end after its third season, the premium cable channel announced Monday.

Besides struggling to get viewers, the Aaron Sorkin drama was widely criticized as being unrealistic and pompous. The show also was notable for its very liberal political slant and incredible lack of self-awareness about that slant. Throughout its brief time on the air, the show repeatedly denounced a lack of civility on cable television while also frequently slamming conservatives.

The first season of the show ended with Jeff Daniels, playing lead anchor Will McAvoy, denouncing the Tea Party movement as “the American Taliban.” The show has also featured dishonest editing in an episode attacking the conservative philanthropists Charles and David Koch.

But it wasn’t just conservatives who panned the show. The TVNewser blog collected an entire page of slams against the show including a quote from The New Yorker calling it “so naïve it’s cynical.” The elite magazine also noted the show’s persistent attacks on the right saying that “whenever McAvoy delivers a speech or slices up a right-winger, the ensemble beams at him, their eyes glowing as if they were cultists.”

The criticism of the program continued into its second season with the Washington Post’s television critic writing that he thought the TLC show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was actually superior to the Sorkin drama.

Several reviewers also noted that all of the show’s characters seemed to speak in monologues and most seemed to have the exact same mannerisms and perspectives. Slate criticized the series for offering “an elementary and elemental critique of television news.”

Despite all the criticism, however, the show had at least some fans. Though his character was panned by many as insufferably arrogant, Daniels received an Emmy award for it last year, an honor that he seemed surprised to have won.

Another person who liked the show was disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather who said it had “the potential to become a classic.” That praise was not exactly surprising since an early draft of the show’s pilot episode included a line written by Sorkin which claimed that Rather “got it right” when he utilized obviously forged documents to claim that former President George W. Bush dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. The segment containing the line did not air, however.

The Newsroom’s ratings were never anything to write home about and there was a long gap between its second season finale and the announcement that HBO was going to purchase a third season. Daniels embarrassed himself last September by claiming on Twitter that the show had been renewed only to be forced to retract the tweet.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013