Aaron Sorkin: Mother Jones' Headline Writer 'Lied,' Huffington Post Doesn't

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Aaron Sorkin criticized Mother Jones for a headline suggesting he said the Huffington Post "sucks." (Credit: MSNBC via Mediaite, screenshot)

Director and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin criticized the Mother Jones website for having “lied” in a headline saying that he thinks the Huffington Post “sucks,” Politico reported.

The original headline read “Aaron Sorkin in Washington, DC: The Huffington Post Sucks” and accompanied an article about Sorkin’s comments at an Aug. 21 event that promoted Sorkin’s HBO show The Newsroom.

However, Sorkin said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews he “did never and would never say that” the Huffington Post “sucks.” Politico noted that Sorkin “occasionally blogs for Huffington Post.”

Sorkin said of the “sucks” headline:

“I certainly did not say that. The headline writer didn’t take me out of context.The headline writer didn’t exaggerate. The headline writer lied.”

Asawin Suebsaeng, the writer of the Mother Jones article in question, pointed iMediaEthics to his statement to Politico about Sorkin’s criticism and referred us to Mother Jones’ editors for commnt on the headline change.  Suebsaeng had told Politico that he had written the headline. “Yes, as you can see from the quote in my piece (and I’m happy to send you the transcript), his critique was directed both at the Huffington Post and at a wider journalism phenomenon,” Suebsaeng is quoted as saying.

Mother Jones editor-in-chief Monika Bauerlein told iMediaEthics by email:

“We changed the headline because, as we noted in our editors’ note, we felt the new one more clearly characterized Sorkin’s comments. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on his comments, which speak for themselves quite eloquently, but I’m happy to send you the relevant portion of the transcript if that would be useful.”

Mediaite published video of Sorkin’s comments on MSNBC.

The headline now reads “Aaron Sorkin on ‘The Newsroom,’ Huffington Post, and Journalism Screw-Ups.”

The article still includes comments from Sorkin suggesting Huffington Post features sensationalism and non-news. The Sorkin quote says in part:

“There’s just too much money to be made and too much fun to be had laughing at somebody else fail. And that’s become okay. It used to be the kind of thing that you didn’t do in public…And now it’s what covers…the homepage of the Huffington Post. “13 Epic #Fails.” There’s the need to put an exclamation point after everything, and there’s the need to…create fantastic stories instead of just reporting on things that we need. So the adjectives and adverbs that you’ll see in headlines are always about how somebody issued a blistering this against [someone or something]—just anything to get a clip.”

A note at the bottom of the Mother Jones article discloses the headline change, reading: “The headline on this story has been changed to more clearly reflect Sorkin’s comments about the press.”

Hat Tip: Dylan Byers

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Aaron Sorkin: Mother Jones’ Headline Writer ‘Lied,’ Huffington Post Doesn’t ‘Suck’

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