Newsroom de la Mancha

On December 15, 2014, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

2548274_origJust finished watching the series Finale of The Newsroom for the second time, and trying to hold it together, unlike during the first viewing earlier tonight which had me crying tears of sadness and joy. Mostly sadness. The ending, as most show finales are, was bittersweet. No spoilers here, but many questions were answered, mysteries solved, and the stories behind the stories were told.

Say what you want about the series, its transparent idealism, and its creator Aaron Sorkin, but a very strong argument can be made that Mr. Sorkin is the best and most prolific American dramatic writer of the Twenty-First Century. Check his resume here in case you need a rundown: Sorkin is also a patriot in his own unorthodox way, and trying to make good on his promise to make the world, from the platform as America’s finest scribe, and his country a better place by way of dramatic fiction.

Through the tears, I’m trying to understand why the final beats of this show’s heart have touched me so deeply. Certainly the references to Don Quixote and the would-be knight always tilting at windmills resonate profoundly. The triangulated conflict between telling the truth, the common good, and the wheels of commerce are at the core of nearly each story arc. Arcs so neatly completed in the final handful of shows. Including some stories we didn’t even know were arcing.

As someone who spent several powerful, formative years as a journalist and decided not to pursue it as a career for precisely the reasons this show delineated, I relate to many of these characters. The happier of the endings were certainly the reason behind the joyful side of my emotions.

I was pleased by the optimistic moments for many of the characters which played out in this finale. And I can see that, were this somehow for real, and were we to be able to witness the day after the series finale in each of their fictional existences, each one would be subject to more of the absurd challenges and just plain bullshit that we as Americans face in this more than messed up country of ours.

Inspired by The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin and his deep and complicated form of patriotism which I share, I also feel compelled to focus on the sadness behind my tears in the hopes that it will further inspire you, and me, to keep up the fight of these fictional Don Quixotes, tilting at windmills under the constant promise of being pummeled as its reward.

The triggering event of the show, a popular news anchor lets loose his frustration over a country for which he is a face and a voice, and yet can’t say a damn thing to the millions of people he looks into the camera and speaks directly to each and every weeknight. “America isn’t the greatest country in the world,” he roars, to a recent college graduate looking for a little hope as she faces the grim world into which she has matriculated.

First of all, you can’t say that, especially when you are a well-paid cable anchorman and the face of your network. Second of all, it’s true. Hence the root of the sadness, and the hope that I can continue to reach for the inspiration to keep trying to make a difference when there are so many people and institutions making a difference in what I view as the opposite direction.1

For example:

The alarming rate of school shootings that continue with absolutely no government response while the NRA peddles guns in their wake, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

The new stop-gap spending bill passed yesterday, necessary to prevent the country from grinding to a halt which contrarily saw Congress codify tons of pork, including several laws literally written by the banking industry that will lead us down the exact road we took to the financial meltdown of 2008.

A preponderance of talking heads appearing on the Sunday news shows discussing how the Torture Report was partisan, that the ends (though it was shown that torture had nothing to do with those ends) justifies the barbaric means, and, in the words of American Vice President, Military-Industrial CEO and not-as-yet-convicted war criminal Dick Cheney, “A load of crap” and “I’d do it again in a minute.” We built this country to get away from people like him. Even John McCain agrees: Un-American. It’s indefensible on every level. Sorry, Dick.

Because there’s plenty of blame to go around, wondering why President Hope seems so curiously behind that which he had railed against on his way to higher office, and wishing he would say and do more when certain values are being trampled.

And, following the unprecedented failings of his brother George W., Jeb Bush is ready to initiate his ascension to become the third person from one of the most inept American aristocracies in our history, escalating onward to the highest office in the land.


I love ya, U.S. of A., but I’m getting tired of the S.O.B. leading us down a garden path to hatred, scorn and death. And I’m wondering how long we can keep getting away with horrific, international lawlessness without further repercussions. Not that there haven’t been repercussions aplenty thus far.

I share Mr. Sorkin’s frustrations – as voiced by anchor Will McAvoy, News Director Charlie Skinner and the Newsroom’s characters – and I’m struggling to generate the optimism required to face these frustrations day to day because I am surrounded by so many Americans who don’t know and don’t care in addition to being severely un-, under-, or mis-informed.master copy2

I’m doing my best to walk my walk, in addition to talking my talk. And I’ll continue to tilt at windmills, in spite of the potential to get my ass whooped, but part of me wishes all this unnecessary death, destruction and pain wasn’t so…inevitable.

In conclusion, I’d like to pay my respects and wish Godspeed to all who have attempted in their way to join the good fight. On better days, the sun shines on us all, and even impossible dreams seem possible.

Let’s be unwilling to take our eyes off of the double-speakers, the corporate-swindlers, and the paid, government operatives who would happily torture innocent people to be able to claim that when they torture criminals it’s for the sake of our country. Torture is a means to its own end, and the torturer IS the criminal. Some people simply like to torture, and some of those people have spent far too long steering the ship.

Things can get confusing out here. Here’s to the handful of ingenious gentlemen and gentlewomen willing to take a closer look in hopes of righting one or more of this world’s wrongs. We need ever more tilters, and more daydream delusions to keep us tilting, because this country and our world sure won’t be running out of windmills anytime soon.


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