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PopPolitics: Aaron Sorkin on ‘The Newsroom,’ CNN and the Boston Bombings (Listen)

Aaron Sorkin
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

“The Newsroom” returns to HBO for its third and final season on Sunday, and creator Aaron Sorkin is once again deploying plot twists using events of the recent past, this time the Boston Marathon bombings.

But in an interview with Variety’s “PopPolitics,” airing on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel, Sorkin says that he’s not trying to turn “hindsight into heroism” by blending fact with fiction as a way to say “here’s how you should have done it.” Rather, he draws on recent events “so I don’t have to make up fake news which would make the world seem fake.”

As Will McAvoy and the ACN news team scramble to cover the bombings with a degree of journalistic caution, they watch as CNN’s John King makes the real-life gaffe of reporting that Boston police had made an arrest. CNN was forced to retract the story.

Sorkin, however, says that they did not feature the mistake “to show up John King, who I have an enormous amount of respect for.” Rather, “The Newsroom” also suggests that King’s source was given the wrong information on purpose, as the Boston Police attempted to find the source of leaks of the status of their investigation. Sorkin said that in researching the storyline, they had “strong reason to believe” that is how King got the story wrong.

Listen below:

Sorkin says that there will be a resolution in the final episode, but he says not to expect a winner in what has been one of the show’s themes: the pursuit of higher journalistic ideals versus profits. “We do need to come back to reality somehow,” he says. “I think it ends with just the right message.”

Listen below:

Sorkin says that while he tries to get his point of view in some storylines, it’s “not as often as you would think.” But the season does feature a rather stark assessment of climate change, in which an EPA official’s warnings of the world coming to an end can’t seem to get through in the current media environment.

Listen below:

Sorkin says that while “great news coverage is in the DNA of this country,” the news business is “in for the fight of its life.” He hopes that characters like Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) are not part of a dying breed. “I hope in 10, 15 years, Jeff Zucker is wearing a bow tie, maybe slamming a bourbon saying, ‘We are going to do this right, dammit.'”

Listen below:

On the Mix, D.C. journalist Patrick Gavin and Deadline’s Dominic Patten assess the Democrats’ rout in the midterms. Gavin says it was a tough year for new celebrity candidates, like Clay Aiken, to get voters to trust them, while Patten says that the party’s losses can only be good for Hillary Clinton and garnering support in the entertainment industry.

Listen below:

Also this week:

Fundraising fallout: Showbiz Democrats put in about $20 million to House and Senate races this cycle, and they have little to show for it. And while there is plenty of fatigue among the industry’s array of bundlers and donors, if the past is any guide the anger some are pointing at party operatives or the quality of the candidates will subside and Hollywood will settle into its traditional role of ATM for the left. Others were perplexed by what went wrong given that the economy is improving and the deficit is falling.”I think there’s real frustration, like there’s only so much you can do,” said Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, co-chair of the DNC Southern California finance committee. “It does feel a little bit futile.” But he said that as much as many are perplexed by just what went wrong, “2016 — the pendulum effect is the most reliable dynamic.” Andy Spahn, political adviser for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, told the Washington Post on Wednesday that in the coming weeks he and Katzenberg plan to travel to visit potential donors to Priorities USA, the SuperPAC that backed Obama in 2012 and has been remade to back Clinton. What also could motivate donors is Republican leadership will be front and center. “Now they are going to have to be accountable,” Solomon said.

Awards Season Meets the Pols: Major contenders for Oscars have in past years enjoyed screenings at the White House, endorsements from former presidents and even a bit of publicity from the pope. This year looks to be no exception. On Tuesday, as Democrats were watching the election returns in horror, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel went to a sneak screening of the Weinstein Co.’s “The Imitation Game,” the story of World War II enigma codebreaker Alan Turing. He posed for pictures with the film’s director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore, a Chicago native. Also attending was Gillian Flynn, who wrote another Oscar contender, “Gone Girl.”

Donors Upset at Aiken: Some showbiz donors who attended a fundraiser for Clay Aiken in September feel “duped” after the announcement that the “American Idol” star’s campaign is now the subject of a new Esquire Network “docu-series.” Some of the attendees say that when they saw a camera crew at the Sept. 30 event, held at the home of Michael Corbett of “Extra,” they were told that the project would be for a BBC project and not air in the United States. Esquire Network denies that it was a reality series and a source close to the project denies that Aiken was paid, but the perception was that Aiken at least had a high-profile gig lined up should he lose.

The week ahead:

Clinton’s Visit: First out of the gate in post-2016 fundraisers is former President Bill Clinton — for his foundation. He will be at Paramount Studios on Friday night with Jessica Alba and musical guest Parachute. On Sunday, Clinton will be the keynoter at a Banc of California-sponsored financial literacy education event at USC. It will be attended by 5,000 young people from at-risk communities.

Legend Lear: Norman Lear is interviewed by Amy Poehler at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Saturday evening, an event sponsored by the People for the American Way Foundation, the organization he co-founded. Lear is touring for his recent memoir, “Even This I Get to Experience.”

Marvel-ous: Super-hero maker Marvel Comics is honored on Saturday night by the Los Angeles LGBT Center, reflecting its work on bringing LGBT characters and superheroes into their storylines. Marvel’s Northstar, one of the first openly gay comic book characters, married his partner in “Astonishing X-Men” in June 2012. Other honorees include “Star Trek’s” George Takei and his husband Brad, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who is retiring and will be succeeded by Sheila Kuehl, whose early career was as one of the stars of “Dobie Gillis.”

Elizabeth Warren in L.A.: Elizabeth Warren undoubtedly will have much to say to dejected Democrats and progressives on Sunday as she is honored by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California at its annual Bill of Rights dinner in Beverly Hills. There are rumblings on Hollywood’s left that they wish Warren would run for president in 2016, and the dismal midterms only reinforce their views that Democrats lose their traction when they run away from signature issues like healthcare and inequality. Other honorees include Warner Bros. Records Cameron Strang, Participant Media’s Jim Berk, Cyndi Lauper and Marvin Schacter. Warren is expected to be introduced by Norman Lear.

PopPolitics airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124. It is rebroadcast on Fridays at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.