Monday, July 9, 2012

Aaron Sorkin, Have a Koch and a Smile


Despite his left leaning slant on just about every subject, I've been a fan of Aaron Sorkin's work since the start of the West Wing because he does tend to venture into the middle occasionally.  However, last night's episode of HBO's Newsroom may have finally been a bit more Sorkinism than I can chew.

In Newsroom, Sorkin takes real world news stories and shows how an "ethical" news organization would report on them.  Unfortunately, his idealistic crusade for legitimate news comes off more like some leftwingbat wet dream that makes MSNBC seem fair and balanced.  Coincidentally, they even made that comparison in last night's episode and the response of the president of ACN, the fictional cable news network that is the setting for the show, was to claim the facts are the facts.

The facts in this case?  The tea party is a bunch of radical domestic terrorists going after truly conservative congressmen and senators.  The show even went so far as to claim embracing the tea party would be akin to being photographed with Bernadine Dorn when her and her now husband Bill Ayers were busy trying to blow up the Pentagon.  Of course there was no mention of the fact that President Obama actually launched his political career in their living room or that he has been a frequent guest at their home and allowed the guy that is "just a guy from the neighborhood" to babysit his kids.

Comparing million of Americans who protested peacefully against the banking and auto bailouts, and against government intrusion into their healthcare to terrorists is not only offensive, it is a downright offensive and slanderous lie.  Not only has no Tea Party activist ever been arrested at one of their events, but they have even been praised by local law enforcement for going the extra mile to pick up after themselves when they left.  Compare that to the left leaning Occupy Wall Street movement that not only plotted to blow up bridges, but vandalized businesses and parks, and was riddled with sexual assaults and other violent crimes.

Sorkin wasted no time in pulling out the go to criticism of the tea party, claiming protesters want the "government to keep their hands of their social security."  This claim originated from a statement from one man, in one town hall meeting with a congressman during the debate over Obamacare.  The man stood up and said, "keep your government hands off my medicare!"  That one statement from one individual has been latched onto by the left and reported to be symbolic of the intelligence level of all those in the Tea Party.  In the end, that one man was proven right, Obamacare cut $500 billion from Medicare and introduced a board that will work to eliminate procedures covered by Medicare.

Sorkin and others on the left are dismissive about the countless anti-Semitic rants and signs that were bandied about by Occupy Wall Street.

Sorkin's "Republican" anchor is so offended by the radical Tea Party that he wants to spend the first five minutes of every news cast for more than six months revealing the truth about the Tea Party.  Once again Sorkin takes viewers down fantasy lane claiming the tea party isn't grassroots, it was funded and organized by the lefts favorite boogeymen, the Koch brothers.  In turn, we are told the owner of ACN is so worried about the Koch brothers that she is willing to fire the "best" anchor on cable news.  The owner of ACN is fittingly played by Hanoi Jane.

If the Koch brothers are so scary that news organizations fear talking about them, then how does HBO feel comfortable devoting an entire hour of prime time programming to attacking them?  How does MSNBC, CNN, and Current TV make such sport out of targeting them?  As evil as Sorkin wants us to believe they are, he doesn't seem willing to answer any of these questions.

They say statistics never lie, but liars use statistics.  With Newsroom Sorkin makes an art form of doing just that.  Sorkin's anchor lectures two Tea Party leaders who talk about George Soros funding virtually every leftist organization.  He tells them that the Koch's are the richest people in the country only behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.  Of course if he actually provided the data behind those stats viewers would see that not much separates the Kochs and Soros.  The Koch brothers are worth $25 billion according to Forbes richest in America list and Soros is worth $22 billion, hardly an uneven playing field.

Sorkin then goes on to claim the Koch brothers funded the Tea Party by donating money to Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks.  The problem?  The Koch brothers never donated to Americans for Prosperity or Freedomworks.  They did donate to an organization with a similar name, The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which is an entirely separate organization that did not give any money to fund Tea Party organizations or events.

Sorkin then makes the wild and baseless allegation that the Koch brother's spent $40 million during the 2010 campaign to get Tea Party candidates elected.  The problem, the Koch brothers, David and Charles, combines donated $2.5 million to candidates between 1989 and 2010.  Meanwhile, George Soros, just one man, donated $1.74 million during that same period.

Sorkin's figures stray even further from reality when you start including 527 organizations.  From 2001 to 2010 the Koch brothers gave $1.5 million to 527s.  Soros gave a whopping $32.5 million during the same period.

Sorkins $40 million in Koch brothers influence during the 2010 election claim appears to assign Soros involvement to the Koch brothers in an attempt to minimize his influence in Democrat Party politics. There was also no mention of how Soros plans to spend more then $100 million in the 2012 election.

As if slander and false data weren't enough, Sorkin then provides viewers with a litany of fictional GOP candidates who lost primary battles with radical Tea Party opponents like Rand Paul, who according to Sorkin hates minorities.  We're told about one longtime ultra conservative congressman who lost because he said Obama wasn't a socialist.  Needless to say, that never happened and was instead drawn from a McCain statement in 2008 when he told someone at a town hall that Obama wasn't a Muslim.  In reality, Ron Paul, considered by many the founder of the modern tea party movement, has stated repeatedly that he does not believe Obama to be a socialist, yet Paul continues to win elections and gain support among Tea Party activists.  I can't help but wonder how Sorkin rationalizes that in his mind.

Next Sorkin's anchor foretells on election night 2010 the Continuing Resolution (CR) debate which wouldn't become an issue for more than six months.  He then tries to trap a newly elected fictional tea party congressman into admitting he doesn't know what a CR does.  According to Sorkin's anchor, the CR doesn't borrow money, it authorizes the government to pay back the money it borrowed.  Unfortunately, that's not at all what it does.

Continuing Resolution provides authorization for funding the government at current or projected  budget levels when there is no formal appropriations bill that has been signed into law.  Since the Democrat controlled congress from 2009 on has avoiding passing a budget like the plague, CRs are being used to set the budget for the federal government.  Moreover, not passing a CR does not mean the government comes to a halt, it means spending is restricted to essential functions. The president has sole discretion to direct what programs are considered essential, this includes making debt payments.  So once again, Sorkin's Newsroom has ventures into fantasyland to try and mislead viewers about how the government works.


UPDATE:  It has been correctly pointed out that I confused comments made on Newsroom about the Debt Ceiling with Continuing Resolution.  However, I did not confuse the inaccuracy of the comments made about what said debt ceiling does.


The debt ceiling does not in anyway authorize expenditures towards paying off debt.  What it does do is limit the amount of new bounds, i.e. new debt, the US government can issue.  The continuing resolutions along with other types of appropriations are what controls where and how much is spent by the federal government.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you watch the episode last night?

Will said that the Koch brothers combined were worth $54 billion. According to the link you have that supposedly refutes that it shows that they're each worth $25 billion. So combined, that's pretty close to what they said on Newsroom. Comparing $50 billion (David and Charles Koch) to $22 billion (George Soros) is a pretty significant difference.

Also, you seem to think they were asking the newly elected congressman about passing a CR but they were talking about the debt ceiling not a continuing resolution. Those are two different things.

theKansasCitian said...

I did watch, thank you.

Oh, so it's legitimate to lump the wealth of two people together to make it seem more than it is. Apparently, we're to assume the both equally agree on all the same things and provide the same level of funding. However, One of the Koch brothers only donated $300,000 to campaigns over the '89 to '10 time period. So clearly, they don't equally use their wealth for the same things.

If you want to do that, then we should include Warren Buffet's wealth in with Soros', since they are both avid supporters of Democrats and associated organizations. That would be a total of $71b between Soros and Buffet.

As for the CR, you are correct. I mistakenly confused the continuing resolution issue with the debt ceiling one. However, that doesn't change the complete inaccuracy of the claims made on the show that raising the debt ceiling is about paying back debt, not borrowing more.

The debt ceiling limits the aggregate amount of bonds that can be issued by the US government. Raising that amount allows the government to borrow more. The continuing resolution/budget/appropriations bills are what authorizes the government to spend money.

Anonymous said...

re: debt ceiling

Which was exactly the point that Sloane was making. The debt ceiling debate wasn't about spending, it was about paying back money that had already been spent. The CR spends the money but raising the debt ceiling allowed the government to pay back (not default) on its debts.

And as far as the Koch brothers goes, you made it seem like they were being factually inaccurate about the wealth but in fact, they were quite accurate. Whether or not they were giving money directly to candidates (I'm assuming the figures you mention are campaign contributions to candidates) ignores the much larger amount of money they give to PACs and SuperPACs. Unfortunately thanks to Citizens United, we don't even know where they're putting a lot of that money since the money is secret.

theKansasCitian said...

That is absolutely not what the debt ceiling does. It authorizes borrowing... If the debt ceiling isn't raised the federal government has to make due with only tax revenues. Raising the debt ceiling allows them to borrow more to fund more spending.

As stated previously the president has the authority to prioritize funding and Obama could prioritize interest payments as essential. Raising the debt ceiling has everything to do with borrowing more money and nothing to do with paying back borrowed money.

Anonymous said...

What is Aaron Sorkin's background, i.e. ethnicity? I am trying to figure out how this guy views the world.