What Real TV Journalists Think Is ‘The Newsroom’s’ Legacy

TheWrap speaks with TV news and entertainment figures about the legacy of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series

Last Updated: December 16, 2014 @ 5:36 AM

The lights went out on HBO’s “The Newsroom” Sunday night with a stream of flashbacks and familar Sorkin-like happy endings.

The polarizing Aaron Sorkin depiction of TV news — loved by many for its typical Sorkin-ese while hated by many who call BS on its accuracy about the industry — was actually watched by many TV news insiders.

TheWrap spoke to several of them to get their take on the legacy of Aaron Sorkin‘s “Newsroom.”

Nicole Wallace tuesdayNicolle Wallace, co-host “The View”

As a well known Sorkin enthusiast, what I like about “Newsroom” is just how uncomfortable it makes some people. By offering “alternative histories” to current and recent actual news stories and by dealing with issues that are near identical to the ethical and moral dilemmas presented by some of the biggest stories in the news, Sorkin cuts very close to the bone. This makes it riveting and relevant to me.

CNN

CNN

Don Lemon, Anchor “CNN Tonight”

I’m not sure the show put a spotlight at all on the TV news industry. I think it was particularly interesting for those of us in the business.

But beyond that I’m not sure of any lasting impact etc. I watched mostly just to play critic and to see Jane FondaHer character is over-the-top dramatic and fantastic, as is the series which has been dramatized or Sorkin-ized. It had to be in order to make it interesting enough for people to watch. Viewers would be bored to tears if they really knew how the news sauce was made.

I loved it and hated it at the same time. But here’s the important part, I’m bummed it’s going away. It was my Sunday night guilty pleasure.

So long Will McAvoy

Andrea MitchellAndrea Mitchell, Anchor MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports”

I have been fascinated by the series’ take on the “Edward Snowden” issue, the way Sorkin framed the obligation to protect a source — and all of the tough legal and moral questions that raises. The Newsroom relationships are exaggerated dramatically in a “West Wing” way but that’s part of the fun.  If we behaved that way in a real newsroom we’d never get the broadcast on the air!

The overheard conversation with the EPA bureaucrat on the Acela was a classic DC kind of moment. I love Jeff Daniels and the other actors, the writing is great and no one can top Jane Fonda and Sam Waterston – (who reminds me of some of my great mentors over the years at NBC — totally honest and principled news leaders who don’t take any crap and refuse to compromise).

And having Jane Fonda play the role of a Ted Turner-style cable mogul is genius.

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 10: Producer Albie Hecht attends the CNN Worldwide All-Star 2014 Winter TCA Party at Langham Hotel on January 10, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

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Albie Hecht, President HLN

I think it will have a big impact on news. It had a big impact on me — actually showing the process of news gathering, putting the news on in an authentic and real-time way. We work really hard, and seeing that was incredibly exciting.

For me, it just inspired what I’m doing in a reality show, which is the real news, the way they saw it on a fictional show. I think it was inspiring.

Joe Peyronnin, Former VP CBS News, Former President Fox News

It was terrific television, rife with drama, conflict and controversy. The characters were brimming with emotion, passion and righteousness. The scripts were filled with smart, interesting and intense dialog about immensely important issues.

However, had the program accurately portrayed the real day-to-day mundane life in most newsrooms, the Newsroom series would have been canceled after one program. Kudos to the brilliant Aaron Sorkin.

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