HBO puts The Newsroom pilot online for free; judge Aaron Sorkin's work for yourself
Just about everyone in media has weighed in on Aaron Sorkin's new TV news-centered drama for HBO, The Newsroom.
Ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather raved about it, former Ad Week editor Michael Wolff thought it was 25 years too late and onetime ABC News and Al Jazeera anchor/reporter Dave Marash said it was realistic as Jack and the Beanstalk.
My friend and fellow TV critic David Zurawik even implied some journalists may be so tough on The Newsroom -- it got panned by The New Yorker, The New York Times and ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper, among many others -- because it calls out journalists shortcomings.
Frankly, I can't imagine being the guy at the center of this media sh--storm. There is a varying level of truth in every one of these pieces, but the sad fact is, Sorkin is a writer many journalists enjoy who had the bad luck to try writing about a subject many of us know a lot better than he does: the TV news business.
Ratings indicate that about 2.7-million people watched last night's pilot episode over two airings; similar numbers to the debut ratings for Game of Thrones, but it also means about 2-million people stopped watching after the latest True Blood episode ended just before.
Once again, I fear we media types have obsessed over something the general public spent much less time worrying over.
Although I had lots of problems with the series, I don't think its the train wreck or sinkhole many critics have pronounced. But many critics don't know much about how courtrooms work, policing works or hospitals work. So we'll accept the license Grey's Anatomy takes with medicine or Law & Order takes with cops, but howl in protest if the same liberties were taken with journalism (one writer spent a whole column proving an offhand statistic in the pilot about infant mortality in the U.S. wasn't accurate. Really.)
At the risk of contradicting an ace critic like David, I think The Newsroom got shellacked because it got too many things wrong about a milieu TV and pop culture critics know too well -- from the reasons why cable TV news shows succeed to the ways in which journalists are too busy filling broadcasts, podcasts, blog posts and newspaper stories to wax philosophically about the decline of journalism and its impact on democracy.
But enough about what I think or they think. Check out the pilot below, provided by HBO, and decide what you think.
I'd be happy to read your thoughts in the comments section below.