Dan Rather is reviewing HBO's The Newsroom for Gawker throughout the show's first season.
Episode 3 of HBO's "The Newsroom" is deeper, broader and better than the two previous installments. (And I thought the first two were excellent.) I wasn't sure before — I had my doubts — but this latest in the on-going series convinced me:
"The Newsroom" is important television, the closest we've had to "must-see TV" in recent years.
The reason is that it digs deep to reveal the innards of big network television news—the teardrops and laughter, the sunshine and storms that go on behind the scenes and below the surface. And it reveals the danger of big business being in bed with big government, whether the government is led by Republicans or Democrats. This is especially dangerous when it comes to big businesses that own, as a small part of their overall operations, a national-distribution news organization.
In this episode, the most important, most interesting, most revealing scene is where the owner of the corporation (played superbly by Jane Fonda) tells the head of her news division, "I have business in front of this Congress!" She's complaining about her anchorman and his newscast covering news in ways she knows will displease Congressional leaders whom she needs for business advantage.
Her news division president (played equally superbly by Sam Waterston) answers, in effect "You can't possibly expect us to tailor the news to your corporate agenda."
She shoots back, "I have business (she hits the word hard) in front of this Congress." And she flatly says she'll fire the anchorman if he doesn't stop putting on the air what he has been.
This, friends, is drama taken from real life. Yes, this is fiction. But it's based on some recent history in the news business.
This whole episode is something I wish every American could see and ponder, especially in the context of the two preceding installments. They would then understand how a combination of big business and big government, working for their mutual benefit — not the public interest but rather their own interests — affects the news we see and hear.
I've been looking for things not to like in this series. Haven't found many.
Give it five stars so far. If they keep this up — if they can maintain the quality — they will have produced a classic.
PREVIOUSLY: Every Anchorman is an Ass Sometimes
Dan Rather is anchor and managing editor of AXS TV's Dan Rather Reports (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET on AXS TV). You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.