First off, I love The Newsroom and I thought the second season — save for that one episode where Maggie goes to Africa — was fantastic, and by the end of it, Sorkin had turned the series around and mostly shut up his critics. The series is coming back for a final season this fall, and according to Sorkin, he’s only now getting to a place where he thinks the series is actually good.
However, he would also like to apologize for the way that many have misinterpreted the series as a show designed to show up the news media. From Buzzfeed:
I’m going to let you all stand in for everyone in the world, if you don’t mind. I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with The Newsroom and I apologize and I’d like to start over. I think that there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. I did not set the show in the recent past in order to show the pros how it should have been done. That was and remains the furthest thing from my mind. I set the show in the recent past because I didn’t want to make up fake news. It was going to be weird if the world that these people were living in did not in any way resemble the world that you were living in… Also, I wanted the option of having a terrific dynamic that you can get when the audience knows more than the characters do… So, I wasn’t trying to and I’m not capable of teaching a professional journalist a lesson. That wasn’t my intent and it’s never my intent to teach you a lesson or try to persuade you or anything.
And the thing is, Sorkin really began to lay off the real-world news in the second season, which is in part why it got so much better. It’s not that the news media doesn’t deserve to be skewered or satirized, it’s just that, well, we already have The Daily Show. Sorkin is not so good with that sort of thing, and so he began to do what he does best:
I like writing romantically and idealistically. I try to balance that with just enough realism so that it feels like whatever romantic ideal is in there is somewhat attainable. It’s not a cartoon. It’s not animated… These are people who are trying to do the news well when market forces work against them.
And the romance and idealism is what I love about Newsroom, and I think also what some find off putting because, while Jimmy Fallon does earnest well, the earnestness of a guy like Sorkin gets confused with something else because in real life Sorkin kind of acts and talks like the Jesse Eisenberg character in The Social Network when in reality, I think he’s far more like the Jeff Daniels character in Newsroom: A sentimental windbag with idealized notions about the way things ought to work. It just so happens that I appreciate sentimental windbags (but yes, yes, of course, his treatment of his female characters could also stand to be better).