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Ex-Romney flack calls out fiction of The Newsroom

HBO's The Newsroom is treading into the 2012 presidential campaign in its new season and Mitt Romney's campaign isn't shown in the best light so far.

In last night's episode of the fictional show, TV producer Jim Harper is covering the Romney express as it winds through New Hampshire but is twice rebuffed on his attempt to board the press bus by a Romney aide who isn't a big fan of Harper's news outlet. When he finally gets on, Harper presses Romney spokespeople for answers that go beyond their talking points and ends up getting kicked off the bus with two other reporters.

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A former 2012 Romney spokesman says that obviously pure fiction.

"You all would have heard about that if it had happened" in the real campaign, says Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman who traveled with the former Massachusetts governor. The show "doesn't seem to be very close to the truth," he adds.

If there was space, Williams says, legitimate news outlets - even those who were super-critical - were welcomed aboard the campaign's press bus or on the campaign planes. At one point, some reporters covering Romney had to take a separate press plane but that was only because so many journalists were traveling with the Republican candidate, Williams notes.

The show's creator is left-winger Aaron Sorkin, who also created The West Wing series wherein Republicans were often the butt of jokes, so GOPers aren't shocked to see the Obama campaign so far immune from the show's jousts.

On another front, Williams says that several in the Romney press shop were trying Monday to figure out if certain characters are based on real-life people - is Romney's sharp, female mouthpiece supposed to be national press secretary Andrea Saul? - but there isn't likely to be a big following amongst the Romney alum.

"The whole concept seems a little silly to have a fictional account of a campaign that happened in real life," Williams said.

The HBO show rankled Utah Sen. Mike Lee when it debuted last year and referred to the freshman tea partyer as wanting to jettison the constitutional amendment that allows anyone born in the United States to be a citizen. Lee phoned the president of HBO asking for a clarification, though none was apparently broadcast.

- Thomas Burr


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