Jonah Goldberg

Which brings us to Sorkin, the creator of HBO's "The Newsroom," perhaps the most execrable pop-culture agitprop since Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." In Sorkin's fantasy show about a news program that breaks with the media herd, smugly liberal reporters almost always have the right instincts.

Sorkin accomplishes this in part by giving himself the benefit of hindsight, by setting "Newsroom" in 2010. Hence, when the Times Square bomber is apprehended, the news team congratulates itself by choosing to do the "boring version of the story" in which the "system worked" and the terrorist "acted alone" -- something they couldn't possibly have known yet.

Meanwhile, the real story for Sorkin's fantasy journalists is exposing the pernicious threat of the Tea Party (and its James Bond-villain backers, the Koch brothers) as they peacefully unseat incumbent Republicans in primaries. Holding the actual government accountable isn't a big priority for Sorkin's Fifth Estate because, after all, the system works when liberals run it. The job of the media is to keep a weather eye on the existential threat from the American right.

That's a great way to do journalism when you're playing make-believe and cherry-picking 2-year-old facts to suit your ideological agenda. It's quite another thing when you're a real reporter working in real time. Ross learned that lesson the hard way in what amounted to an audition for "The Newsroom." We can only guess at Ross' motive for his mistake, but if the media followed Sorkin's advice, we can be sure we'd see a lot more like it.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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