Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom," a show about the state of broadcast journalism according to Aaron Sorkin, was roundly vilified by the press as sanctimonious and smug, most fiercely in Emily Nussbaum's New Yorker review where she refers to the show as "so bad...that I found my jaw dropping."
Sorkin has brushed off negative, even harsh, reviews of the HBO show, which premiered last Sunday, but his odd behavior in a recent interview with a Canadian female reporter has not done his reputation any favors.
Sarah Nicole Pickett of Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Sorkin spoke to her in the "'Smile, honey' tone of much less successful jerks."
“Listen here, Internet girl,” Sorkin says at the end of the interview. “It wouldn’t kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while.”
When Pickett reminds him that she is a newspaper reporter, Sorkin responds by asking for a high-five saying "“I’m sick of girls who don’t know how to high-five,” and makes Pickett high-five him six times.
"He also makes me laugh; I’m nervous, and it’s so absurd," Pickett says.
"He loves it. He says, 'Let me manhandle you.' Then he ambles off, hoping I’ll write something nice, as though he has never known how the news works, how many stories can be true," she finishes.
Sorkin has been criticized for writing one-dimensional female characters before, which he acknowledged in a comment on a 2010 blog by filmmaker Kev Levine.
“Believe me, I get it. It’s not hard to understand how bright women could be appalled by what they saw in ['The Social Network'] but you have to understand that that was the very specific world I was writing about," Sorkin wrote.
"I wish I could go door to door and make this explanation/apology to any woman offended by the things you’ve pointed out but obviously that’s unrealistic so I thought the least I could do was speak directly to you," he added.
In his critique of "The Newsroom," New York Magazine's Matt Seitz wrote, "There's a whiff of Ivy League liberal sexism and racism to a lot of [Aaron Sorkin's] work, he's too in love with rhetoric, and he's too eager to show us his homework."
Its too early to tell, however, whether the backlash will impact ratings, for better or worse. Despite terrible reviews, Sunday's premiere of the show received reasonable, but not great, numbers.
So is Sorkin's writing a bit sexist? You can decide for yourself -- HBO has posted the full first episode of "The Newsroom" online.