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HBO’s Realistic Portrayal of a Journalist: Admirer of Far-Left Authors Who Sports a Kerry Shirt

HBO’s Sunday night dramady, Enlightened, is delivering something very rare: A true to life depiction of a journalist – specifically identified as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times – as a very obvious left-winger, one who cavorts with and reads books by far-left authors and goes to the newspaper newsroom wearing a “John Kerry for President” shirt. (video after the jump)

Not surprisingly, the creators of the HBO show weren’t very creative and so made a show with a very common enemy: an evil corporation. In this case, “Abaddonn Industries,” a Southern California manufacturer of cleaning and household products with the misfortune to employ “Amy Jellicoe,” played by Laura Dern, who, demoted to the purgatory of the IT department in the basement after a stint in anger-management rehab, is determined to expose the corporation’s supposed misdeeds.

Exploiting a tech-savvy colleague, she accesses company e-mail to prove environmental violations and payoffs to politicians. In the season premiere first aired on January 13, she excitedly relays how she’s found a journalist to publicize her crusade: “There’s this guy, Jeff Flender. He’s at the LA Times. He writes these corporate exposes. He is the perfect journalist for this.”

Jeffrey Flender,” played by Dermot Mulroney, is somewhat wary at first, but soon becomes excited about the documents and e-mails she’s stolen and given to him.

The four scenes from three installments of Enlightened depicted in the accompanying two-minute video:

> “Amy” surveys “Jeffrey’s” apartment and asks of a picture on the wall of him with another man: “Ah, that’s so sweet. Is that your grandfather?” He explains:  “No, that’s Noam Chomsky,” adding when he sees here blank stare, “political theorist.” (From the January 13 season premiere, “The Key.”) large jpg of the picture

> “Jeffrey’s” wearing a “John Kerry for President” shirt as he sits at his desk at the Los Angeles Times and answers her phone call. (From the February 3 episode, “Follow Me.”) large jpg screen shot

> Back at his apartment, “Amy” pulls a book from a bookshelf (a bookshelf with an artistic rendition of Barack Obama’s face in newspaper text sitting against the rear). The book is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. She opens it to a page where someone’s scrawled “Tyranny is Over!” (From the episode first run on February 17, “All I Ever Wanted.”)
large jpg of the Obama rendering
large jpg of the Zinn book

> As the “Amy” character does a voice-over sharing her admiration for “Jeffrey,” he hands her Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, and then the camera pans his wall to show his framed Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for National Reporting. (Also from the February 17 installment.)
large jpg of the Pulitzer

HBO’s description of the weekly show:

Created by Mike White and Laura Dern, this half-hour comedy series centers on Amy Jellicoe (Dern), a well-intentioned employee of a Southern California corporation who, after flipping out and going to anger-management rehab, emerges with a singular, if at times misguided, mission to make her company more responsible.

After presenting her research outlining Abaddonn Industries' toxic sins -- and being laughed out of the room -- she strengthened her resolve to expose the company as a polluter and a bastion of corporate greed and corruption. Having convinced co-worker Tyler (White) to let her use his IT password to retrieve incriminating emails, Season 2 picks up with Amy immersed in gathering evidence against Abaddonn.

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.