Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Episode 3: The 112th Congress

I would like to open by saying that this is not a political blog. This blog will not take sides on anything political. It will analyze what is said on the show and give you the truth surrounding the fictional piece. That being said, when clear political bias is shown by the show or the show within the show I may, at times, point it out. This is not to show favor to or to malign the view, just to show the likely reasons behind any half-truths or fallacies.

Episode 3 of The Newsroom begins with a clip of Richard Clarke's (spelled "Clark" on the graphic on screen) 2004 apology, before the 9-11 Commission, to the American people. In it, Clarke basically states that the government, himself included, failed the citizens of the United States. Will McAvoy then states that he was the former anti-terrorism chief under President George W. Bush. That's not quite all of the information. He was also in the same position under President Bill Clinton. He spent nearly a decade in that post before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred.

The next bit of real news is about the May 1, 2010 attempted bombing in Times Square. On May 4, 2010 News Night's rundown has Mackenzie stating that the bomber was a "lone wolf." This could not have been substantiated at the time, and, unless you don't consider the Pakistani Taliban to be a terrorist organization, it's inaccurate. The bomber, Faisal Shahzad, claimed to be supported financially by the Pakistani Taliban. His detainment after having boarded a plane headed for Dubai was, indeed, an example of the system working. Until May 5, 2010, airlines were only required to update their no-fly lists every 24 hours.

The debate about who saw the smoking Pathfinder first is undertaken when Maggie says that Alioune Niass, a Muslim, actually told Lance Orton that the vehicle was smoking. This is all hearsay (apart from names and religious affiliations), and none of the three vendors who claim to have seen it first and/or alerted the police can really substantiate their claims. In any case, this isn't exactly an important piece of the story given the inability to verify who saw what when.

The comparison of then Tea Party Candidate Mike Lee to Yippies Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin is a bit out there. Nobody would have elected them because of their backgrounds (especially Hoffman), while Mike Lee was a Constitutional lawyer prior to his political career. However, the statement that Tea Party candidates aren't really Republicans is probably more accurate as they have their own separate party platform despite running on the Republican ticket.

The montage that follows is full of non sequiturs tearing down the Tea Party. The few actual facts in the montage are accurate, but it's so littered with opinion that it is barely recognizable as news. Then, a little later, they bring on a man named Bryce Delaney who has been ousted in his primary from his congressional seat. That person does not exist. None of the events surrounding his supposed ousting happened.

The broadcast then reveals the funding behind the Tea Party. From all the information available, it seems that the Koch brothers really do have a lot to do with the financial backing of the Tea Party. And yes, they do run the second largest private company in the country. Most of their business is in energy. And they are a part of Americans for Prosperity. And yes, they are billionaires.

The next montage of more non sequiturs has one disturbing statement, "Abolishing the minimum wage would create jobs. You know what else would? Slavery." It's a grossly baseless statement, it's a cheap shot at those who want less government regulation of private industry, and, it's statistically inaccurate. Being a slave would not make you "employed" in the modern sense. Statistics barely (if at all) support an abolished minimum wage creating jobs. It's solely an inflammatory statement.

Most of what this show reveals is a serious progressive slant, and it flat-out makes things up to make their point. That's a shame. Facts are better than fiction when trying to get people to trust your point of view.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.


  1. Excellent blog, Brian!!!

    Another blatant error in this episode was their definition of the debt ceiling. The show states that without raising the debt ceiling, bond obligations would default. The truth is that the government would have to cut other spending, which is why the TEA (Taxed-Enough-Already) Party exists - to curb spending.

  2. I love this blog and am so glad that you're doing it! I was so excited about the potential of the premise behind this show, hoping that Sorkin could have enough skill as a writer to at least cloak is beliefs a little better and present facts to foster debate.
    This blog adds much needed perspective, but ultimately might be why i stop watching the show...

  3. Actually Anonymous needs to look his/her comment up about debt ceilings because it is completely wrong.

  4. Great blog! I'm really enjoying the show and the questions it raises. I appreciate you taking the time to sort out the fact from fiction.

  5. last time i checked, this show is a political drama. just like house of cards....it isn't supposed to be true, but yes, there is an obvious bias present in the show.

  6. Good Lord ... are you for real?