NEWSROOM made the Koch brothers and potential conflicts of interest around the Citizens United case key plot points this season: no other popular television show has done nearly so much for so many. Along the way, the show exposed the faux-populism of the Tea Party, an institution underwritten—like so many conservative interests—by big oil. Libel laws existing in this country, what the show said could have been the cause for litigation; it was not. On the show, the star newscaster played by Jeff Daniels has been threatened by his network’s head who wants to court big money interests, not antagonize them. Is it possible that the (to me) surprising neglect of this show had similar causes?
The show is not perfect: no way. Romantic plots seem overdone at times, with grown-up characters unable to say what they’re feeling—as grown-up people have been known to do, but more so. The show brilliantly deploys itself against recently remembered history and some of the events, like the killing of bin Laden, felt wrong on the pulses. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue can cloy. But episode for episode, this show served a truly educational function. Did some viewers think that NEWSROOM made up the Koch brothers? the devastating effects of Citizens United? the irresponsible stalemates in Congress? That’s possible. But “made up”? I will end informally by saying: if only!