West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Forums * Is It Important to Get the Facts Right?

Responses to the question, the series and our essay:
When trying to comtemplate this issue at hand, I am reminded about the story of the drunk driver. This woman who consumed large amounts of alcohol at her company insisted to drive after even though her company warned her not to do so and offered her other options (like take a cab, designated driver, etc.). She, consequently got into an accident and she eventually sued company.

Why must audiences expect that same treatment? Why should Sorkin be condemned for warning audiences that he might get it wrong? If audiences are stupid enough to take his statements as fact without their own research, don't they deserve such misdirection, like the woman who drives drunk deserves her own fate?

The West Wing was never intended as a show to capture facts first before fiction. The fact that it is a television show should hint to audiences that it's not real. It becomes crystal clear during promotional interviews, when producers Schlamme and Sorkin both insisted that they were there to capture the emotional aspects of the West Wing, whether it be high-energy and chaotic or charming and idealistic, or anything else. Schlamme and Sorkin insisted this show was not to show government work in real life or provide a civics lesson to the public. Why do people insist otherwise? --- graysn

There are times when I think it is vital to get the facts straight and times when it doesn't matter:

With all the proselytizing that goes on in the show, the facts concerning the issue should be correct.

If the facts are not endemic to the story line, then what harm is there in taking the extra effort to get things right, and educate the audience in the process? WB, Aaron Sorkin, etal can certainly afford to do it.

If the facts ARE endemic to the story line, but NOT endemic to the message, or carry with them unintended political implications, then they should, by definition, be fictional. An attempt should also be made to inform the viewer that these are fictional statistics. For example, rather than identifying a real Middle Eastern country when dealing with issues of terrorism, human rights, etc, a fictional country, Qumar is used. And the "facts" concerning events in that country, while representative of the real world, cannot be relied upon. --- LK

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