Jul 22, 2012

Scott Walker Grabs Prominent Scenes in The Newsroom

Jeff Daniels stars in Aaron Sorkin's
HBO drama, "The Newsroom"
Scott Walker and his Tea Party-Koch brothers underground movement have an ongoing role in Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama, "The Newsroom."

A fascinating new television experience, Sorkin explores what would happen if the news product of a nightly cable news show were driven by facts, truth and logic as guiding journalistic principles, encouraging thought rather than controlling it.

The process of shaping opinion, attitudes, and perceptions was termed the “engineering of consent" by one of the founders of the modern public relations industry, Edward Bernays. - Noam Chomsky in Destroying the Commons -How the Magna Carta Became a Minor Carta
Set in 2010-11, the dramatization takes direct aim at the Tea Party with the intelligence, insight and rigor that one would expect if Edward Murrow and Robert Jackson were alive as cable news journalists and covering a period of American history where elements of fascism, unorganized and incoherent as yet, have animated the rise of the Republican Party.

Scott Walker does not come off well in Sorkin's presentation of this news outlet reporting on the corporate-religious right coalition that has catapulted Walker to fame in GOP-Tea Party circles.

Sunday's, July 22 "Amen" episode opens with "news of unrest in Wisconsin in February 2011 in response to the governor's call for budget cuts bubbl(ing) up during coverage of the ousting of President Mubarak in Egypt."

As Walker even today still cannot appear anywhere in public in Wisconsin without protests, one of Sorkin's characters, a news producer, reports that as Walker is at a newspaper in Appleton, Wisconsin, 100s of teachers and demonstrators gathered to protest outside the newspaper, as dramatized in this March 2011 Appleton Post Crescent piece by J.E. Espino.

The coverage in the show's episode is a composite of real-life events, but the show's audience in Wisconsin recognizes the protests, if not the urgency of the protests reported by the zombie-like Wisconsin media.

Can local broadcast media in Wisconsin, and the giant media conglomerate, Gannett, which owns some 11 corporate newspapers in Wisconsin, make a news product driven by facts, truth and logic?

It doesn't today and certainly not during the Recall campaign burying coverage of the John Doe criminal probe of Walker's top aides in his 2010 campaign as well.

Rural Wisconsin which voted overwhelmingly and unusually high for Scott Walker, or perhaps not, is seen by many as Walker's base, though Walker's extremist positions are kept well-concealed by his flacks and criminal defense team.

The ideological and political effects of quasi-news broadcast media, Gannett newspapers and Party propaganda sheets like the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal are unclear.

Contra this propaganda product on the local and national media fronts, The Newsroom proposes dramatizing the product of a cable news show driven by a commitment to truth in the tradition of Murrow, Cronkite, Erwin Knoll and I.F. Stone.

I don't think Sorkin knows yet where he is going to go with the show after just five episodes but this Sunday night drama has so far stood towering over the crap that floods our airwaves.

- Full disclosure by MAL: I have written in a freelance capacity for the Gannett-owned Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune and the Fond du Lac Reporter.

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