Matthews on ‘The Newsroom’: The brilliance is in striving for better

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Let me finish tonight with this.

The Newsroom, the hot new show on HBO that’s gotten all the buzz these days, started with a talk show host like me denying this is the greatest country in the world. He quotes all kinds of statistics about math scores and health facts, and I get his point.  

Here’s what I think. I think if you watch the kind of movies and TV shows Aaron Sorkin has created — from A Few Good Men to The American President to West Wing and The Social Network and Moneyball — you find a common strain: it’s people trying to improve on what they inherited. They’re never trying to match up to what came before; they’re trying to break through to something better, smarter, truer…something that’s not just state-of-the-art, but powerfully deserves to be.  

Every day on this show, we — the producers and I — try to come up with not just what happened, but what it says; not just the news and the analysis, but a new way of presenting it. We are determined never to do this week what we could have done last week, never to look like any other show — and that includes the shows you’re loyal to right here on this network. 

This is why people are watching The Newsroom on HBO: because they don’t know where it’s going. What they’re captivated with is this determination to take us somewhere new and better. 

It’s what happens here every day…the give and take between executive producer and host, the effort of all the producers to do something really good — all this day-long struggle and, yes, clash of views — to put something on that informs, exposes, ignites. That, in the words of the guy who started this kind of show (the great Martin Agronsky) “sharpens the issue,” lets people walk away and tell others as exactly as possible what the arguments are about, what this country of ours — at least the interested, attentive people — have on their minds about where we’re headed.

So I salute Aaron Sorkin for humbly suggesting this country can work harder at being what it claims to be, while at the same time being in his creative efforts exactly the sort of person that makes us so wonderfully close to being as good as we say we are. 

Hardball Let Me Finish

Matthews on 'The Newsroom': The brilliance is in striving for better

Updated