‘Newsroom’ Renewed by HBO Despite Few Viewers, Many Critics
Despite the fact that few people are watching "The Newsroom," premimum cable channel HBO aseriesnnounced on Tuesday that it has renewed the left-leaning new series for a second season even though only two episodes have been broadcast.
The premiere of the show, which aired on Sunday, June 24, drew a mediocre total of 2.14 million viewers, which included a second airing, as it chronicled the behind-the-scenes events at the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN) series.
Created and primarily written by liberal TV producer Aaron Sorkin (who was also the driving force behind “The West Wing”), “Newsroom” features an ensemble cast that “sets out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal relationships.”
The comedy-drama stars Jeff Daniels as jaded cable news anchor Will McAvoy, who attempts to change things after losing his temper while moderating a discussion between a conservative on one side and a liberal on the other.
At that point, McAvoy declares that “America isn't great anymore” and rattles off a series of statistics showing that the U.S. isn't the leader of the world in such areas as infant mortality and science education.
Despite the series' cliche-ridden concept, the early renewal is seen as a sign of support from the executives at HBO, who ordered a 10-episode first season of the program.
As NewsBusters reported, the show was widely criticized even before its debut since a preview showed one of the characters stating that Dan Rather “got it right” in his 2004 story about President George W. Bush’s avoidance of National Guard duty, a hit piece discredited because of Rather’s reliance on forged documents,
Just before the premiere was broadcast, National Public Radio TV critic John Powers “trashed” the show for being “smugly against conservatives.”
“In fact, the show's so riddled with disapproval toward those who watch Fox News, read the tabloids or enjoy reality TV that it feeds the cliche of liberals as smug elitists who reflexively look down on anyone who doesn't agree,” he stated.
Once the first episode debuted, criticism intensified from all sides, with Entertainment Magazine writer Darren Franich stating that two of the signs you're watching an Aaron Sorkin show are the inclusion of an “Evil Corporate Person” and “Conservative Characters Who Aren't Actually Very Conservative.”
An example of the second item is McAvoy, who's a registered Republican but a “hyper-moderate” who “explicitly disagrees with the vast majority of contemporary right-wing causes.”
In addition, the Huffington Post blasted the series over its unflattering portrayal of women, and Sorkin has been slammed for “his rose-colored view of modern journalism and willingness to talk down to his audience.”
Some of the strongest criticism of the series came from Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center and publisher of NewsBusters, who wrote that the series was “arrogant” and said it's preposterous to think “The Newsroom” is realistic, is idealistic and isn't liberal activism.
Bozell also declared that HBO should use a new slogan for its original programming:"Speaking Truth to Stupid."
“Sorkin, talking through his characters, thinks that what America desperately needs are journalistic truth tellers to make democracy work,” he stated. “The people cannot rule by their own dim wits. They need the guidance of all-knowing anchorman-prophets.”
Another interesting aspect of Tuesday's announcement was that HBO also renewed its vampire series, “True Blood,” for a sixth season. One reason for the renewal was the fact that the show's fifth-season premiere on June 10 drew an audience of 6.3 million viewers across its two plays, more than twice the ratings of “The Newsroom.”
Maybe Sorkin should try to boost ratings by adding a vampire to the cast. He'd probably be the most realistic character in the show.