HBO Pays Liberal MSNBC Vets to Add 'Realism' to Second Season of 'The Newsroom'

June 20th, 2013 7:02 AM

As HBO’s preachy leftist drama “The Newsroom” about an Olbermann-type “news” show heads into its second season, Lacey Rose at The Hollywood Reporter revealed a raft of MSNBC personalities were part of 13 paid consultants series creator Aaron Sorkin hired to provide “realism” to the program.

Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Alex Wagner, and S.E. Cupp were all brought on board, as well as “MSNBC Republicans” Susan del Percio and Mark McKinnon.

In a long welcoming memo last fall, Sorkin wrote the 13: "I'll be coming to you for everything from simple research questions to: 'What kinds of conversations would there be about how to cover Trayvon Martin? Sandra Fluke? The contradictory stories about the circumstances under which Bin Laden was shot?'"

O'Donnell, who worked with Sorkin on “The West Wing,” was involved initially but asked to be taken off the payroll because he feared he’d be too busy for Sorkin. "He ended up deserving to be paid because he contributed a lot," Sorkin said, "and liked to hang out in the writers room when he was in L.A."

Former CNN president Rick Kaplan, who's worked almost everywhere in TV news shy of Fox, was “easily among the most active, having made several trips to the Newsroom offices as well as a multiday set visit for the final episode of the season.”

There was also a list of other paid consultants from CNN: Jeff Greenfield, anchors Ashley Banfield and Natalie Allen, and Kaj Larsen.

The other consultants were Shushannah Walshe of ABC (formerly of Fox News), former Time editor James Kelly, and Leon Wieseltier, the longtime literary editor of The New Republic.