Ray Hanania analyzes Middle East & American issues for Creators Syndicate. Nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for a series on the Palestinian Intifada. Winner of 4 SPJ Lisagor Awards for Column Writing; Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media ('07). Sigma Delta Chi Nat'l Award for column writing ('10). This is Hanania's personal blog, writing on everything under the sun. Visit www.TheArabDailyNews.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 25, 2012
HBO's "The Newsroom" rankles the hypocrisies of the corrupt mainstream news media
I really enjoyed the drama of Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" on HBO last night. Having stepped into my first newsroom in 1976 with the same wide-eyed apprehension, I connected with Maggie Jordan, the assistant promoted during "war" to an associate producer. I also connected, more importantly, with the building controversy that is growing around The Newsroom between Aaron Sorkin and the show, and the mainstream news media which hates to see its own failings.
And that's exactly what The Newsroom will do, besides entertain HBO subscribers. It's going to show, just by natural selection of show topics, exactly what's wrong with today's news media. Sorkin may not directly address those shortcomings by criticizing the mainstream news media, which so deserves to get its ass kicked behind the wood shed. He'll accomplish this, based on the first episode, by simply scripting a Newsrooms in a way to show us how a real newsroom should be operating. Because today's newsrooms are not operating the way they should be.
They're more corporate owned. Many have been cannibalized by their media competitors to the point where the news media is now acting like a corporate monster with no room for ethics.
Of course the critics are bashing The Newsroom. It's like listening to someone tell you why you are irrelevant and why you are so hypocritical and wrong. The news media's ego is larger than any and it can't take it in its collective, hypocritical consciousness.
Sorkin's series is a punch to the mainstream news media's chest, knocking the wind out of the media's phony self-image of heroism and honesty and morality. The ugly, stench blows out of the mainstream media's mouth as Sorkin slams them by showing them what they were, what they are not and, sadly, what they probably will never return to become.
Yes, the news media was a great institution back in the day when I entered journalism moved by the disclosures of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. (For those of you who have forgotten who they were -- I say were because everyone clearly changes when drizzled with corporate greed, profits and riches -- click here.
The truth is, American mainstream news media is sick. It's been compromised. It is unethical and its writings are biased, one-sided and often driven by corporate agendas than by a Don Quixotec-style crusade for truth based on fairness and accuracy. Today's media is corrupt and rotten to the core. They love to dish it out while veiling, disguising or hiding their own conflicts-of-interest. Their own nepotism. Their own corruption -- what we have seen is only the tip of the iceberg. Their own compromises of principle to make money. Their own pulling-punches to minimize criticism of interests they own.
The public can't trust the American mainstream news media any more. Today's journalists like to pretend they are on a crusade for truth, justice and the American way, like Superman defeating the evil-doers in tights while working as a journalist in a suit by day. But they are not Superman anymore. Instead, it's a slick dark blue pin-stripped suited corporate money counter, changing clothes into another dark blue pin-stripped suit pretending to be the champion of something. Their own self-interest of course. And the big "S" from the Superman logo is no longer on this character's chest, but instead is being stamped on the foreheads of every schlepper out there who lays down a small fortune to buy one of their worthless newspapers or pays an outrageously high monthly subscription to tune into the garbage grind on Cable TV.
Yes, Aaron Sorkin has sucker punched the mainstream news media and they hate it. And they're going to get back in the only way they know how, by trashing it with a drive fueled by their own selfish interests. They've lost sight of their mission which is to write honestly for the audience. These critics are writing for themselves, kings with no clothes, smelling like alewives on a Chicago summer evening.
Must be tough for the mainstream news media to look in a mirror manufactured by Sorkin and I am loving every minute of that thought and the show itself, The Newsroom, broadcast every Sunday night on HBO at 9 pm (CST).
Jeff Daniels offers a phenomenal portrayal of an anchor Tom McAvoy who thinks that the news media owes more to journalism than simply paychecks and power or clout.
Producer Jim Harper, played by John Gallagher Jr., symbolizes exactly the problem that real journalism faces into today's corrupted media environment. He's up against a colleague (Don Keefer, played by Thomas Sadoski) who has compromised himself so badly, enjoying the spoils of the media but lazily ignoring truth when it doesn't come out of his own pocket.
I loved the performances of all of the show's actors and actresses. What they are doing is real.
And it is nice to see Sorkin's "The Newsroom" reflect one other major reality of today's pathetic mainstream news media, the lack of diversity in a newsroom. I'm not talking about the lack of diversity that is falsely and hypocritically argued by African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans (UNITY: Journalists of Color) but the diversity of exclusion in which the "new minority" of Asians, Indians, Arabs, Muslims and a lot of others whoa re constantly libeled (in print) and slander (in broadcast) by today's media. One minority, Neal Sampat, played by Dev Patel, symbolizes the challenges this new minority has in the real world of journalism, except that we, the new minority, have a more corrupt environment to face than the lucky Patel who plays a smart journalist in the perfect journalism environment that sadly only exists in Sorkin's mind, the wishful longing of many in the public that have abandoned hopes for ethical journalism, and in the new HBO TV series "The Newsroom."