Aaron Sorkin's dramedy "The Newsroom" has been a thorn in TV critics' side ever since its debut.
The preachy, over scored HBO series takes aim at the current state of reporting-repeatedly stressing the importance of "real news" stories. It's not surprising then, that when the show was screened for the press, most of them hated it, and continue to hate it -- and despite decent ratings and the show's renewal for another season.
On Wednesday Sorkin joined a panel discussion as part of a Summer TV Press Tour event in Los Angeles, Calf. The Oscar winning writer addressed many of the gripes that reporters and audiences have with the show.
"We all know that there were critics who did not enjoy watching the first four episodes," Sorkin said. "And there were critics that did. Obviously, you prefer praise for the show to be unanimous."
One central point of disapproval has been the show's self-righteous protagonist, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels, who was also at the discussion). Reproachful and misogynistic, Will subjects his staff (and the show's audience) to countless speeches on what it means to be part of the "media elite."
"We present Will's mission to civilize as something everyone rolls their eyes at and something that always blows up in his face," Daniels said in defense of his character. "Hubris in this show is always punished."
Aside from "The Newsroom's" soapbox rants on journalistic integrity, the show has been criticized for its poorly developed female characters. Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer), who we're told endured knife wounds in Islamabad, doesn't understand how e-mail works. She's also a whiny, groveling mess-repeatedly apologizing to Will for cheating on him during their relationship.
Then there's Maggie (Alison Pill) who does things like mixing up the state of Georgia with the country of the same name-a mistake that an associate producer of a news show would be unlikely to make.
During the panel talk, Sorkin insisted that the women in the series "are shown being good at their jobs.
"Caring about something other than yourself or reaching higher or being curious, plainly smart, and great team players, those qualities to me are what define these characters," he continued. "And once you nail that down you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want. That's just comedy."
Just because Sorkin -- who blatantly insulted reporter Sarah Nicole Prickett during a press interview, nicknaming her "Internet Girl" and advising her to "pick up a newspaper" once in a while" -- turns up his nose at online reporting doesn't mean he's avoided the latest gaggle of rumors surrounding the show.
A recent story released by The Daily claims that Sorkin fired most of the show's writers but kept Corinne Kinsbury, his alleged ex-girlfriend, on staff. According to IMDB, Kinsbury has no other writing credits aside from "The Newsroom." The story, which cited "sources with knowledge of the show," was picked up by numerous outlets.
Olivia Munn, who stars as Sloan," poked fun at the reports via Twitter:
"Wow. Big shake-ups at 'The Newsroom'. Sorkin fired the entire cast except his ex-boyfriend Sam Waterston...oh wait. That's also bulls--t."
When asked about the presumed firings, Sorkin denied that there was any truth to the rumor.
"The writing staff was not fired. And just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff. They're acting very, very strange," he said. "They're coming to work early. They're being polite to me."
The Daily did not provide a requested comment in time for publication.
The heated hour-long discussion made a few things clear. Aaron Sorkin couldn't care less what critics, bloggers, and general audiences have to say about his writing. He maintains that since season one has already been written, there's nothing that can be done about the show's eye-rolling monologues or its needy female leads. Sorkin has given little indication that he's looking to revisit and revise the show even though it's been deemed offensive, outdated, and just plain bad.
The most surprising moment was Daniels losing his cool (much like McAvoy does in the pilot episode) while responding to questions. The actor unapologetically dismissed the significance of the press.
"I completely get why you do what you do," Daniels told reporters. "God bless you, but you don't do it for me. You never have. It took me a long time, as an actor, to stop reading you.... So there is nothing you can tell me, I'm sorry to say, that will help me."
According to the Washington Post, Daniels was seemingly pleased with himself and asked Sorkin; "Did I just offend all of them? I did!"