Jeff Daniels in “The Newsroom.” (Melissa Moseley/HBO)

HBO’s biggest premiere since 2008: “Boardwalk Empire” (4.8 million viewers) in September of ’10.

Starting Monday, HBO made the first episode of its pretty panned new drama “The Newsroom” available for free to non-subscribers, on, YouTube, DailyMotion,, on various free on-demand platforms, and on iTunes.

Meanwhile, Dan Rather was assigned to review “The Newsroom” by and, while noting that “high profile publications” such as The New Yorker and the New York Times panned the pilot episode, he liked it. Rather said the show’s “got it right qualities” outweighed Sorkin’s tendency to “over talk it” and to be “preachy.”

“There is a battle for the soul of the craft that goes on daily now in virtually every newsroom in the country,” Rather wrote.

“It's a fight that matters, not just for journalists but for the country. It centers on whether news reporting is to be considered and practiced — to any significant degree, even a little — as a public service, in the public interest, or is to exist solely as just another money-making operation for owners of news outlets.”

This is the battle being lost in almost every newsroom, in every place around the world,” Rather continued. “Ratings (or circulation), demographics, and profits rule. Any talk of the public interest or of doing quality journalism of integrity with guts is considered passé.”

In the comments section if Rather’s review, however, Gawker regular John Cook dismissed the review, calling the show, “at least a seminal document in the long, sad history of Sorkinism.”