The Newsroom on Rape: Misunderstood but Still Wrong

“Well, it’s complicated for a lot of reasons”

This is a phrase uttered by Don Keefer, a cable producer and one of the stars of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, regarding a certain rape incident at a University. After watching the controversial penultimate episode for the series “Oh Shenandoah”, I’m not sure he truly understands the complexity of the situation or rape in general. In fact, it seems as if he’s driven by the goal of simplifying it as much as possible to follow a moral guideline that does not really apply to the issue presented here. The issue being the fact that a woman was raped at her university by two men after being heavily intoxicated, and in retaliation (and after effectively being ignored by the police) she created a website for others like her to anonymously post about their sexual assault experiences and accuse their attackers. Don’s news corporation (ACN) would like for him to track Mary (the rape victim) down and invite her onto one of their shows for a joint interview between her and one of the men she is accusing. Don, due to his reservations about the nature of this hypothetical joint interview, tracks down Mary and does everything he can to convince her not to go through with it only to fail; but he ends up stopping it from happening anyways when he lies about being unable to find her to his furious superiors. This series of events, the portrayal of Don, and the execution of the story itself is problematic for a number of reasons, but I feel those reasons got lost in a barrage of righteous indignation that came about in response to the writing.

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