Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama, “The Newsroom,” has been resoundingly criticized not only by conservatives for peddling false memes about the Tea Party and against American exceptionalism, but also by liberal publications like The New Yorker, which called the show “insufferable.”
But in a bit of rich irony, HBO, in promoting a television show that seeks to portray — falsely — those in mainstream media as neutral, truth-telling arbiters, blatantly took quotes from negative reviews of the show out of context and splashed them in the glossy, two-page ads that HBO bought in publications like The Hollywood Reporter to promote the show.
Forbes discovered at least four blatant instances in which this occurred.
Exhibit A: The ad has a quote attributed to The New York Times that says, “Wit, sophistication and manic energy…A magical way with words…a lot of charm.”
But, as Forbes notes, while New York Times’ television critic Alessandra Stanley wrote those words, her review was a critical one in which she also wrote, “[A]t its worst, the show chokes on its own sanctimony,” and “suffers from the same flaw that it decries on real cable shows on MSNBC or Fox News.” She also wrote that how Sorkin structured the drama was “probably a mistake.”
Exhibit B: Another quote in the ad calls the show “captivating, riveting, rousing.” But Salon’s Willa Paskin, the reviewer, actually wrote that The Newsroom was “captivating, riveting, rousing, condescending, smug, infuriating mixture” and “a potent potion that advertises itself as intelligence-enhancing but is actually just crazy-making.”
Exhibit C: Paste‘s Aaron Channon is quoted as having praised the show for being “remarkable…intelligent.” But Channon, in his review, wrote that “compared to the standard established during the past several years by HBO and AMC, early returns on The Newsroom are disappointing.”
Exhibit D: The ad quotes Time’s James Poniewozik as having written, “The pacing is electric…captures the excitement.” This makes it sound like Poniewozik was a huge fan of the show when he actually wrote in his review that he “was not a fan” of the show. The title of Poniewozik’s article was even, “Dead Tree Alert: Blowhardball: The Not-So-Special Comment of HBO’s The Newsroom.”
“Ironic way to promote a journalism drama,” Poniewozik told Forbes.
Recently, HBO fired nearly all of writers of “The Newsroom.” Perhaps they should have fired its public relations staff as well.