The many people who help Dan Rather write “Newsroom” recaps

Dan Rather and his team of journalists tackle the complexities of "The Newsroom"

Topics: Dan Rather, newsroom, Aaron Sorkin, Journalism, Television,

If you haven’t read any of Dan Rather’s recaps of “The Newsroom” on Gawker, you should start immediately. But if you already do, you have realized that Aaron Sorkin’s sub-par show does things to Dan Rather. Funny, tingly things. The 81-year-old former “60 Minutes” correspondent morphs into an excited fanboy, week after week, writing a grade-school level analysis of a show that he has boldly compared to “Citizen Kane” and that he claims is ushering in the “Golden Age of Television Entertainment.”

“If they keep this up — if they can maintain the quality — they will have produced a classic,” he writes. ” ‘The Newsroom’ is important television, the closest we’ve had to ‘must-see TV’ in recent years.”

When Rather is not writing love notes to Aaron Sorkin, he is describing the basic plot of “The Newsroom” and his impressions of it. Most recently, he extrapolated on the very bad haircut of one of the characters, Maggie Jordan. “That hair color spells trouble,” he writes, “both Maggie’s old blonde and new red. Not to mention that the new cut is awful.” Or he’s discussing how journalists deal with moral complexity: “Sometimes journalists deal with them well, sometimes not so well, and sometimes it’s hard to tell.”

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All of this seems like a perfectly manageable task for one man. Except that sometimes it isn’t. For the heavy lifting, Rather will sometimes employ the help of multiple colleagues, sneaking in incisive insights from Miranda Landsman, Allison Griner, Rebecca DeLaFuente, Madeleine Rowe and Cherisse Cruz, in what one can only imagine are lively viewing parties where Rather curls up to the TV in fetal position while the rest of them feel somewhat saddened.

What extra insights, reporting, observations do these voices add?

The female perspective, for one. Here they offer a deep analysis of the show’s relationships:

The young women reporters who viewed this week’s episode with me say that they are unimpressed with most, if not all, of the romantic storylines so far. An older, more experienced woman who saw the show with me likes the romantic stuff so far. By the way, she is an avid fan of the series and eagerly awaits each new chapter. She thinks this week’s edition may be the best so far. Most of the young women mentioned like it so far as well, but generally opine that they are worried the story may bog down a bit unless its momentum picks up next week … and thereafter. Overall, they didn’t think that this week’s episode was among the best. Take it for whatever you think it may be worth. They are also of the opinion that, for any viewer coming into this season in the middle — just picking up on it — the show may be confusing and hard to follow.

Or a dissenting opinion (not everyone can appreciate the genius of “The Newsroom,” after all):

Some other journalists with whom I viewed this episode saw it as creating ambiguity and confusion due to, among other things, lack of context. Several of them thought that while the Africa storyline is interesting and promising, “the jumbled format” (as they called it) in which it’s told is disorienting. In their opinion, rather than reflecting on the tragedy that occurred on screen, viewers are driven to debate and decipher what actually happened.

This, they say, leaves too many questions unanswered: Did the orphan boy die or not? What is Maggie lying about in her debriefing by the lawyer? Why does she keep saying, “It happened”? What exactly did happen? These colleagues of mine opined that the script held back too much information as a means of peaking interest. I disagree, but there you are; you decide.

As you can see, there is a lot of thought and analysis that goes into one of Dan Rather & Co.’s recaps, but then again, maybe not. There you are; you decide.

Author’s note: Archi P. Gupta, Graci Phupta and Rupa “GTA” Chip helped with and contributed to this article.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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