'The Newsroom' Anchor Smeared for Pot Use?

CANNABIS CULTURE - People are saying that the principled, fictional anchorman Will McAvoy from the HBO series The Newsroom is affecting real-life news anchors. If life is to imitate art, this is a good place to start.

The series is from Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing and the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Social Network, among other stellar credits. Sorkin didn't apologize when he was caught bringing pot and magic mushrooms on a flight to Las Vegas in 2001 and he didn't have to: he's huge, and so is his talent. His indulgences don't limit him, in fact, they arguably expand his creativity.

Earlier in the season, McAvoy (played by actor Jeff Daniels) was outed as a medical marijuana user who ODs on pot brownies but still manages to properly report on the death of Osama bin Laden. The incident will figure into the season finale this Sunday night as the question, "Was Will high on the air?" is asked by a nosy reporter.

Fantastic on the series is Jane Fonda as the corporate arch-enemy of the idealists on the show, who is set to fire McAvoy on the season's final episode. Since Fonda was married to CNN's Ted Turner before that network sold out, her performance is well-informed. (Jane was seen (or smelled) smoking something fragrant with her brother Peter and others at a recent awards ceremony.)

The Newsroom brilliantly overlaps real-life events (the Gulf oil spill, the Murdock illegal wiretapping scandal) with editorial and business decisions and crises. The show has taken the usual criticism from those who never struggle with moral questions in their own lives (see Colbert's clever parody). Since smoking pot can open up meditative channels of thought, maybe it's only pot smokers who think about anything else besides making money, as the Philistines and alcohol-and-pill junkies of "respectable" society do.

On a recent two-part segment ("The Black Out"), News Night is forced to cover the Casey Anthony story to boost their ratings, instead of more important stories like the debt ceiling crisis. One of the stories crossed off the story board is "War on Drugs a Failure." In a world of tabloid news and the bad public policy it fails to cover, The Newsroom lifts our heads above the mire. I'll be glued to HBO this Sunday at 10pm to watch what's next.

Visit HBO online for more about The Newsroom.

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website VeryImportantPotheads.com and blogs at Tokin Woman.

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