Aaron Sorkin has a habit of swinging for the fences when he writes political commentary as entertainment for television. This was first evinced in the network television series, The West Wing, and later with his way-too-short foray into cable news: HBO's The Newsroom. His attitude (and his politics) were on display for all to see, starting with the first episode. At the beginning of Episode One, Will McAvoy is a mediocre news reporter, more interested in ratings than in content, largely comfortable and indifferent in his current position when he finds himself goaded into unaccustomed action during an event at Northwestern University ... whereupon McAvoy takes a hanging curve ball of a question – "Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?" – and after initially attempting to demur and deflect, crushes it about 100 yards past the left field fence, saying a number of things that more than a few of us wish we had the cojones to say, ourselves. The scene opens as two commentators, obviously on opposite sides of the political spectrum, argue socialism while our hero sits passively between them:
It should go without saying that I would kill to have someone like Will McAvoy reporting and commenting on the news in the here and now. One might argue that we do have such people, in the persons of Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O'Donnell or Brian Williams, but we really don't. We learn later that THIS reporter is a Republican, and having awoken out of his torpor, recognizes the bad joke his party has become and speaks out forcefully, less against the party itself but what it has become in the face of increasing political polarization. Fox News on its best day would have nothing to do with such a newsman ... and therein lies the real shame in all of this.
Thank you Aaron. Thank you, Jeff.
The acting, caught by the photographer, makes it clear that this man is tired of the argument of the man and woman in the scene, even as he is thinking. The woman in the audience, I think represents his conscience that refuses to join in the rhubarb. I wish I had his memory for the historical foundation upon which he stands, but even more, I wish the commentators on the real news had such memories.
Thanks for sharing this scene with us, but especially, thank you for guiding me to those two series. I can watch them on the internet.
Actually, Joan, the woman that Will McAvoy sees in the crowd is an old friend of his, Mackenzie McHale. As we learn not much later on, they have considerable history behind them, and a considerable future ahead of them!
Yes, I realize Will saw Mackenzie, however, I find it difficult to believe he would see her and be able to read the sign from so far away. She signaled what he was thinking, don't you think?