In a fascinating interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture, Aaron Sorkin revealed his motivations behind writing the upcoming HBO series The Newsroom and also offered a critique of what we now commonly refer to around here as The Both Sides Meme.
That is to say that “both sides” are crazy and stupid and say and do outlandish things. The strategy employed by the media to falsely equivocate both sides of the political spectrum to avoid accusations of bias.
So what’s the bigger problem, then?
The thing that I worry about more is the media’s bias toward fairness. Nobody uses the word lie anymore. Suddenly, everything is “a difference of opinion.” If the entire House Republican caucus were to walk onto the floor one day and say “The Earth is flat,” the headline on the New York Times the next day would read “Democrats and Republicans Can’t Agree on Shape of Earth.” I don’t believe the truth always lies in the middle. I don’t believe there are two sides to every argument. I think the facts are the center. And watching the news abandon the facts in favor of “fairness” is what’s troubling to me. […]
But back to my point. It seems very important that if someone on the right in the news screws up in a really bad way, that the media find someone on the left who screwed up in some kind of way so that we can have a “One From Column A, One From Column B” kind of situation. And that if there are five from Column A, there can’t be only three from Column B, because then they’ll be accused of liberal bias.
With both of those characters, you seem to be exploring the problem of whether an intellectual can also be a leader. Is that a kind of dramatically animating question for you?
It really is. Right before this, I had Hardball on in the background. They were talking about how even though Obama polled well in the exit polling against Romney in the Wisconsin recall election, he did lose ground among white men. So there was a discussion about the problem that white men see Obama as too professorial, not gritty enough, not rugged enough, not what they want to see in a president. For me, that’s a divide that I feel like I’ve been watching my whole life. The Democratic Party has been feminized by the Republican Party—if you’re smart, that means you’re a wimp.
The feminizing of the Democratic party and the idea that being intellectual makes you an Arugula-eating wimp is something Bob has regularly discussed here and it’s something we’ve all witnessed at one time or another.
I look forward to The Newsroom’s debut on June 24th.