But while watching, the similarities between the series, especially when it comes to the writing, become more apparent. As The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever wrote in his review of “The Morning Show,” viewers might perceive the show to be “another finger-wagger about the high-stakes, ethically murky world of broadcast news.” Just as ACN anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his producer, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), did on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series, Apple’s fictional journalists — TMS anchor Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and her rival, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) — are prone to spouting moralistic commentary on the importance of reporters and their dogged pursuit of the truth.
It’s all quite dramatic, but that’s television! (And as the “Democracy Dies in Darkness” newspaper, we’re guilty of a little drama ourselves.) In that spirit, here are a bunch of news-centric lines pulled from the pilot episodes of “The Morning Show” and “The Newsroom.” Can you guess which show each quote is from?
“My gut instinct is to bring the news to America myself honestly. Addressing the truth is the only way to protect our integrity. So we will talk to them as members of our family. We will grieve with them. We will go through this together.”
This is none other than Alex Levy, the (nearly) always professional co-anchor of “The Morning Show,” speaking to network executives after they fired her on-screen counterpart of 15 years, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell).
“It’s just a big wheel that goes around. Liberals add sanctions, conservatives remove those sanctions and they just keep fighting, 'cause all they want to do is hear themselves talk. And they all want to be right. And they all want to win.”
There’s this strange phenomenon where the same “Newsroom” clips seem to go viral every few years — or, in the case of that airplane scene, every few months. So even if you never watched the show, you might be familiar with Will McAvoy’s viral rant about how America isn’t the greatest country in the world. But the quote above is actually from another viral rant, courtesy of “The Morning Show’s” Bradley Jackson, who launches on a tirade against a man who knocks over her cameraman at a protest.
“There’s nothing that’s more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate. When there’s no information or, much worse, wrong information, it can lead to calamitous decisions that clobber any attempts at vigorous debate. That’s why I produce the news.”
“Produce” might have given it away, as this is, in fact, the famed television news producer MacKenzie McHale trying to persuade Will to ditch his ratings-friendly segments in favor of more hard-hitting news.
“People will want the news if you give it to them with integrity. Not everybody, not even a lot of people, but 5 percent. And 5 percent more of anything is what makes the difference in this country.”
Sorkin was notorious for sticking “the news” in places that make it sound a little awkward — however authentic it may sound, nobody really says “do the news” — and this optimistic MacKenzie quote is a good example.
“Well, you know, when the Exxon Valdez hits the reef and spills 10,000 gallons of your oil into the water, you kind of drop whatever you’re doing and fly to Alaska. And, if I might exhaust the metaphor, you don’t leave until you make sure that every last salmon and sea otter is scraped clean.”
As frenemies of “The Newsroom” might remember, Will is convinced to keep MacKenzie on as his executive producer by the way her team handles ACN’s coverage of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 1989 Exxon Valdez spill comes up in those discussions, but, coincidentally, it’s also what Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), the skeevy head of news in “The Morning Show,” employs as a crisis management metaphor after firing Kessler.
“You blew that interview, and you took it out on me.”
While the “you” might sound like it refers to Alex after she belittles Bradley on live television, this is actually Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski), who produced Will’s show before MacKenzie, arguing with his former boss.
“Tech or not, there will always be a need for reliable, quality journalism.”
He doesn’t dazzle as much as MacKenzie, but “Morning Show” executive producer Chip Black (Mark Duplass) gets a few righteous lines of his own. Here, he defends quality journalism to his ratings-hungry boss.
“People get their horrible news delivered to the palm of their hand 24/7, and they get it the way they like it, colored the way they want it. And news is awful, but humanity is addicted to it, and the whole world is depressed by it.”
This is how Cory, the aforementioned ratings-hungry boss, responds. (Bleh!)
“You’re terrified you’re going to lose your audience, and you’d do anything to get them back. You’re one pitch meeting away from doing the news in 3-D.”
Knock knock, it’s Mackenzie again!
“I was talking to him about the truth! You remember the truth? Journalism? We’re newspeople, Jones! Listen to yourself!”
No, we did not make this quote up, as we have not forgotten the truth! This is really, truly, honestly something that Bradley says to a higher-up at her local news station after he gets mad at her over the viral video.
“Reclaiming the Fourth Estate. Reclaiming journalism as an honorable profession!”
Need we tell you that this is also MacKenzie?
“We reporters, we see the way the world works, and sometimes you just want to get in there and educate people and stop them from constantly going in circles with their ideas. It’s just so frustrating, it’s sad.”
While appearing as a guest on “The Morning Show,” Bradley explains her outburst to Alex by saying that she was frustrated by the willful ignorance of the man she was seen yelling at.
“Just a field producer, a cameraman and a reporter.”
HBO’s closed captioning caught the words some random woman uttered into the phone as the camera swept through the titular newsroom, so we thought we’d include them.
“I’m just here to deliver the news to America. That’s all I ever wanted to do.”
Bradley doesn’t want to do the news, she wants to deliver it! And that’s all she’s ever wanted to do.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the network featured in “The Newsroom” as ATN. It is called ACN, short for Atlantis Cable News.