People Can’t Let Go of 'The Newsroom'

Everyone online agrees The Newsroom was bad, but somehow we just can’t quit it.

A clip from the HBO drama went viral again on Wednesday. It’s the scene where news producer Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski), stuck on a plane, learns of Osama bin Laden’s death. He tries to reassure a restless cabin and gets into a spat with a flight attendant before telling the plane’s captain what’s going on. It’s cringeworthy beginning to end, punctuated by the moment Keefer turns to Olivia Munn and David Harbour and emotionally sighs, “we reported the news.”

The two-minute scene is a perfect encapsulation of The Newsroom’s inherent corniness. The show is an Aaron Sorkin revisionist history cable news drama, which means it’s a sermonized projection of what Aaron Sorkin thinks cable news should be: a bunch of principled journalists focused on reporting actual news and providing critical information to voters (with a few love triangles mixed in). Its hacky moments are legion, from Keefer’s “reported the news” bit to Jeff Daniels shouting “YOU’RE A FUCKIN’ NEWSMAN” over Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

The show is an utter misrepresentation of journalism and journalists but its quick-tongued dialogue and sentimentalism made viewers feel good. The Newsroom is to journalism what The West Wing was to electoral politics—a neoliberal fever dream of compromise, lessons, morals and heartwarming moments.

And although online consensus has shifted toward The Newsroom being hacky trash, its clips still go viral. People wade into its cringe unlike many shows before it. Most of these revelers are media types shitting on the show’s bad writing and vast perversion of corporate journalism. But ironically or unironically, the clips continue making the rounds.