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The Newsroom – Episode 3 (Review)

Catch up with what happened in episode 3 of The Newsroom.

The pace of The Newsroom has so far been its appeal and downfall. The programme has retained the cagey, hurried character relationships found in Sorkin’s earlier works which have produced tensions and rivalries, but has also overdone it. It’s wandering down the path of the latter here. In an episode which sees Tea Party bashing and Republican congressional election coverage, McAvoy (Daniels) and his crew again set out to deal with “the facts” while inadvertently leaning heavily on the GOP.

Even for a show which has sprinted out of the starting blocks, so much is packed into this episode. It starts with McAvoy making a hearty apology to the American people for how the network has covered issues which favour corporate sponsors and ignore public sector casualties. Montage after mini-montage shows McAvoy dragooning party members about the debt ceiling, constitutional rights and gay marriage. While Sorkin seems to be building a democratic infrastructure at the centre of The Newsroom, he’s in danger of ensuring his characters uncover the truth with transparent sincerity.

The most exciting thing about The Newsroom at the minute: it’s sparking disagreement. There are question marks about how Sorkin is treating his female characters, gaps in the strength of his teleplay storytelling, even a painfully frustrating moral imperative at the core stressing that America should be embarrassed and repentant for how it has handled the news over the last decade. These things have us arguing over whether the news should ever be truly bipartisan, which in turn leads us to question the magnanimous nature of Sorkin’s message. The trouble is that facts are only facts within context. McAvoy opens episode three with his speech about how news shouldn’t manipulate or manufacture the truth; there’s nothing wrong with editorialising so long as points are logical, well-argued, relative and accountable. This debate is something fought over in the last ten minutes of the episode, an issue which could have been inserted more intelligently throughout the prior fifty.

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