IS SORKINGATE ABOUT TO COME CRASHING DOWN?
It has been a big big week in the world of fake news and the people who love it and as of this writing, a bombshell may be about to explode that could rock the foundations of Newsroom clear up to its Aaron Sorkin.
To recap, let’s step back in time to July 19th. The Daily’s Soo Yoon broke a story about a wholesale housecleaning at the hate-watched drama. She wrote:
Most of the writers on the cable drama about a Keith Olbermann-type television news demagogue have been fired, sources with knowledge of the show told The Daily. “They’re not coming back, except for Sorkin’s ex-girlfriend [Corinne Kinsbury],” one source said. [Sorkin is currently dating “Sex and the City” actress Kristin Davis.]
The show was renewed early for a second season and it’s unclear how many writers will replace the departing staff.
The story was widely picked up elsewhere across the internet, including in this piece by E! which claimed to have independently confirmed ”that show creator Aaron Sorkin has decided to replace most of the writing staff.” (The E! piece however, does itself no favors by referring to the Daily as the Daily Mail, understandable though the mistake may be.)
Then yesterday, appearing before the meeting of the Television Critics Association to claim that the female characters on his show are the equals of the men, Sorkin declared the report to be outright false, scurrilous pseudo-journalism, besmirching the name of its author in the process. He said:
“A couple of weeks ago an un-sourced and untrue story appeared in the Internet that then got picked up: The writing staff was not fired. Just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff,” Sorkin added with a laugh. “They’re acting very strange — they’re coming to work early … [laughs]. I love the writing staff — I thought that we did great this year, and it’s a fantastic group to work with. We had a ball. A couple of staffing changes were made that included promoting our two writer’s assistants to story editors, but the writing staff hasn’t been fired — I’m looking forward to coming back to work with them soon.”
Sorkin also cleared up a rumor about Corinne Kingsbury, a staff writer on the show (who also made a brief cameo as a stripper in “The Newsroom” in Episode 5), saying he never had a romantic relationship with her. “She was identified as my ex-girlfriend — she is not.”
Across the web, ever since that statement, an alternate version is bubbling out…in the comments below this Deadline piece...and in this blog post by David Handelman, a Newsroom writer which after correctly noting in insanity of a world in which an anonymous report is simply picked up and universally aggregated without anyone else bothering to verify them, sets the record straight as to the Daily’s assertions:
- that only one writer was retained — not true. (Three were.)
- that her name is Corinne “Kinsbury.” (it’s Kingsbury).
- citing a Sorkin quote in Vanity Fair (below), that all the writers do is “research”
- and quoting an HBO spokesman that such turnover is “nothing out of the ordinary.”
He does not address the question of whether the retained Kingsbury was romantically involved with Sorkin. I will however state that I have been told by two sources who decline to be identified but with first hand knowledge of the relationship that Kingsbury and Sorkin were romantically involved.
So in either version of this, the entertainment media loses. Either way it turns out, they either parroted an anonymously sourced piece without confirming it themselves, or they took a producer’s denial of that piece at face value and repeated it, thereby besmirching the reputation of a colleague, without checking it out themselves. As Handelman points out, the truth is a lonely little orphaned bear cub in the aggregating age. We the press should not be in this position of not knowing whether or not a story everyone repeated is actually true.
However with Sorkin having thrown down this gauntlet, I am reasonably sure the actual facts which are pretty easily to gather, will come out in relatively short order. Before the weekend, I would guess. I would round them up myself but I’ve got wind that other people are on the case and will have it all tied up momentarily.
But while the entertainment media as a whole is sure to lose either way, for Sorkin and the reporter who filed this original story, it is a zero sum game that only one can, and shortly will win. The choices are these:
• Either a reporter’s multiple (she used the plural in the piece) sources were incorrect and she ran an erroneous story that was picked up by the world
• Aaron Sorkin, who is currently helming an extremely self-serious show about the need for fearless journalism, told at least two bald lies to an auditorium full of journalists and in the process, smeared the reputation of one.
Perhaps, should the latter turn out to be true, in his mind it “doesn’t count” because the reporter isn’t a real journalist writing about the Tea Party, but rather just an “Internet girl” reporting on showbiz like the Hope Davis character on his show. Sorkin, has previously demonstrated his belief that the line on which truth counts is his to draw. If only Will McAvoy were here to set him straight.