Sorkin: ‘The Newsroom’ has no 2016 favorite

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“Newsroom” plays off of real-life past news events (including the death of Osama bin Laden, the 2012 presidential election, and the Benghazi attacks) for many of its plotlines.

“[‘The Daily Show’s’ Stewart] probably has a rooting interest in somebody or will soon for that reason. The news on this show really serves more as a backdrop for the stories that we’re telling,” said Sorkin.

“So I don’t have a rooting interest in anyone.”

The “West Wing” creator was on-hand Wednesday at the Motion Picture Association of America in downtown Washington to premiere an upcoming episode from the show, currently in its second season, at a screening hosted by HBO and The New Republic.

In a conversation with The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier — with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, NBC News’s Betsy Fischer Martin, and The New Republic editor-in-chief Chris Hughes among the audience members — Sorkin spoke extensively about weaving politics and news into the show.

“In any drama what you want is conflict and the conflict on this show often times are ideas that are crashing into each other,” he said. “To me … the more interesting conflict isn’t between right and left, it’s between right and far right.”

The 52-year-old Emmy and Academy Award winner reiterated several times that “Newsroom” was “not designed as a critique of the way journalism operates.” He said when writing shows such as “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom,” it’s not always evident “that it’s not a ventriloquist act — that I’m writing characters who have strong opinions and I’m not assigning one of those characters to my opinion, which is going to be an amateur opinion at best.”

Sorkin did have strong words for today’s media landscape, saying, “I don’t think we’re very nice to each other anymore. I think that there’s just too much money to be made and too much fun to be had laughing at somebody else fail and that’s become OK.”

And he named names, saying, "Now it's what covers the homepage of The Huffington Post: '13 Epic Fails.'... There's the need to put an exclamation point after everything ... The adjectives and adverbs that we'll see in headlines are always about how somebody issued a 'blistering this against so-and-so,' just anything to get a click."

He added, “I do know what snark means, and we’ve become addicted to that. We’re in a perpetual eye roll.”

Sorkin revealed that HBO has approached him about a third season of “The Newsroom.” Saying with a pause that he “didn’t want to make news tonight,” he continued, “it’s something I’d love to do and we’re just going to have to see if the schedule works.”