Love or hate “The Newsroom”, that show and more to the point, its main character, Will McAvoy, have become part of the American consciousness (for as long as its attention span will last). McAvoy is the tough, super-ethical journalist, challenging the weasels and liars, taking no prisoners and suffering no fools. The one America seems to be longing for. I mean, some point to Chris Matthews, and he can be good at times, but he also just likes to yell. You have this feeling if you went out to dinner with him, ordering would be like:
“I’ll have the duck a l’orange and a white wine please.”
“Excellent. And for you Mr. Matthews?”
“GIMME THE TORTELLINI FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!! DUCK A L’ORANGE?? DUCK A L’ORANGE?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??”
Ahem, anyway. Back on topic. My husband and I watched the first season of The Newsroom, and found it mostly annoying because there was too much fluff in the storyline about the romantic lives of its young, unmarried characters. The emotional, smart but lovably flaky female characters that sort of swirled around in a cloud of estrogen around the tough, stoic McAvoy as he brought down the hammer of truth every night. We assume that this crap was in there to keep it interesting for the female viewers. The funny thing is, watching the actual news on the actual teevee this election season, it seems that the lady journalists were not really paying attention to that junk because they were too busy watching McAvoy swing said hammer of truth and practicing their downstroke:
1) Soledad O’Brien: Yes, I recently learned that Soledad O’Brien comes from my home town. Graduated from the same high school as me, some years ahead. This in no way biases me with regard to the ass-whipping she delivered to John Sununu. You know Sununu? He’s the lying weasel that Mitt Romney dispatches to talk to the media for him when he’s too busy being a lying liar someplace else.
2) Martha Raddatz: OK, look. I love Jim Lehrer. I’m not gonna rip on Grampa Jim. And I’m not trying to blame him for Obama’s dreadful performance in the first debate, by any stretch. But it wasn’t a great night for Grampa Jim. You all know what people said. Phrases like “potted plant” got thrown around. It was awful.
Cue Martha Raddatz. I wasn’t sure how she’d be, because I’ve seen her in a few contexts and never seen her bust a Soledad on someone, but dang. She came in and acted like a goddamn journalist. She was calmly authoritative, she asked follow-up questions … that’s debate moderating, kids. Alex Wagner, if you have any fantasies about moderating a debate in the future… You’d best watch the tapes from that debate and let Auntie Martha show you how it’s done.
Of course, her candidates were lambs compared the presidential candidates…
3) Candy Crowley: I might get shit for this one from some people, but I. Do. Not. Care. Candy had a hard time making Mitt or Barack stick to their time limits, and Mitt had his Imperious CEO on, talking over her constantly and arguing with her over whether his time was up or whether he got to have another turn to respond. I heard people complain that President Obama got more time than Mitt, but Mitt was constantly ignoring what is, if I’m not mistaken, Rule #1 of debating: don’t be a dick to the moderator. He got what he had coming.
There’s a lot of flap over whether it was appropriate for her to fact-check Romney when he backed himself into a rhetorical corner with that puzzling line of attack about whether Obama used the phrase “act of terror” in the Rose Garden or not. Here’s what I have to say: Candy’s a journalist. As someone, somewhere recently said, (and if it’s you, speak up so I can cite you!) if they just wanted someone to stand there with a microphone, looking pretty, they could have gotten Ryan Seacrest. It’s debatable whether she should have inserted herself at that moment, honestly, but she did so in a way that shot down his weird semantic argument while acknowledging Romney’s larger point, attempted to be fair, wrap up that question, and move things along. But maybe most importantly, she struck a blow for the town hall moderator being more than just what journalist Carole Simpson referred to as “The Lady With the Microphone”. And for that, we have to take a moment to raise our glasses and say, “Good job, Candy.”
Look at what an impossible job she had:
4) Carol Costello – I have no bias here, never really had feelings one way or the other about Carol Costello. But I have to give props to her for challenging an anti-gay bigot on the air on CNN, calling him out for what he actually was, and then when he kept on going with his hate speech (and yeah she did call it that), she sent him packing. And she never once lost her cool with the guy, which is more than I’d be able to do in the same circumstances. By the time he got to comparing LGBT tolerance with poisoned Halloween candy, I would have probably been cursing him out on the air. Of course, I would be a bad broadcast journalist, because I fucking curse a lot.
5) Rachel Maddow – Because, always Rachel Maddow. Always.