Utah Sen. Mike Lee takes issue with portrayal on HBO series "The Newsroom"
WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Lee is taking issue with how the new HBO series "The Newsroom" portrayed him on a recent episode.
The fictional program, created by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, is about the remaking of a cable news show after its down-the-middle cable anchor goes on a tirade about how America is no longer the greatest country in the world.
The show combines fact and fiction, and apparently more of the latter as far as Lee was concerned.
"It definitely left a feeling that this was personal," said Lee spokesman Brian Phillips.
In Sunday's episode, anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) goes after several well-known tea party figures, including Lee and his 2010 race against former Sen. Bob Bennett.
"Bob Bennett, the most conservative member of the Senate, is going to lose his primary race to a guy named Mike Lee, because Lee found room to the right of Bennett," McAvoy says.
"You wouldn’t think that was possible," says the news division chief, Charlie Skinner, (played by Sam Waterston). "How is there room to the right of Bob Bennett?"
"For starters," McAvoy replies, "the centerpiece of Mike Lee’s stump speech is repealing the 14th Amendment. It’s an applause line, and he’s going to win his primary by double digits."
Phillips said the Lee "never said any such thing" regarding the 14th Amendment, which includes clauses for citizenship, due process and equal protection. The senator, however, does support clarifying the provision that grants U.S. citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants, he said. Lee campaigned against citizenship for so-called "anchor babies."
"That is far, far cry from advocating the repeal of the 14th Amendment," Phillips said.
The show also incorrectly states Lee and Bennett faced each other in a primary election. Bennett was eliminated at the state GOP convention, while Lee and Tim Bridgewater went to a primary runoff. Lee won and then defeated Democrat Sam Granato in the general election.
Lee called HBO co-president Richard Plepler to voice his displeasure and ask for a correction.
"This is an egregious error that has all kinds of offensive connotation and suggestion to it that the senator thinks they have an obligation to fix," Phillips said.
Phillips described the conversation with HBO as "cordial" and said Lee was told the show has fact checkers but this apparently slipped passed them.
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