Los Angeles -- Despite HBO's trepidations, Aaron Sorkin kept his date at the TCA press tour here Wednesday to defend his new drama The Newsroom to a roomful of reporters
who have been quite critical of the series.
Sorkin fought back especially the notion that The Newsroom's female characters are portrayed
and professionally and personally weak, which has been one of the fiercest
critiques of the series.
"I completely respect that opinion but I 100% disagree with
it," he said. "The female characters are equals of the men. They're not just
talked about as good at their job they're plainly seen as good at."
Sorkin cited examples like Mackenzie, the newcast's
executive producer (played by Emily Mortimer), as jumping on a breaking story
in the first episode and criticizing anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff
Daniels) for pandering, or economic correspondent Sloane (played by Olivia
Munn) initially offering her promotion to primetime to someone else.
He also defended his characters as equals in making
mistakes, saying that Newsroom's male
characters screw up just as much as their female counterparts.
"We present Will's mission to civilize as something people
always roll their eyes at and something blows up in his face," Sorkin said. "Hubris
on this show is always punished.
Sorkin admitted to reading the reviews of his show, though
he says he won't change the writing for season two to adjust for the criticism.
"I've only ever tried to write the way I write. I haven't
tried to figure out what it is that most people will like," he said.
He also went out of the way to distinguish himself and his
views from those of the characters in The
"Most of the time I actually write about things that I don't
know much about," Sorkin said, citing his script for Moneyball, about the economics of Major League Baseball. "I
get pumped full of information from people who do know what they're talking
about so I can find friction and write an episode."
Though Sorkin won't be taking critics' opinions to heart when
writing season two, he will be hiring a number of paid consultants from across
the political spectrum to advise the show. Though he also consulted a number of
top journalists before he wrote the first season, all supplied their opinions
voluntarily, not as employees of the show.
Sorkin also made a point to clarify earlier incorrect
reports, saying the writing staff of the show was not fired, but that a couple
of staffers were let go and two writing assistants were promoted.
As for another criticism of the show, that its historical
look at news coverage is condescending to the realities of breaking news,
Sorkin said he made the decision to set the series in the past because he didn't
want to make up fake news that an audience couldn't relate to.
"I didn't do it so that I could leverage hindsight," he
said. "I like writing romantically and idealistically, but it's by no means a
review of how the news was done."