A simple question, but not simple to answer!
No, I don’t think The Newsroom is misogynistic. I don’t think Aaron Sorkin or any of his writers hate women, or look down upon women, or are trying to portray women in a bad way.
I think Aaron Sorkin loves women very strongly and very passionately, and when one loves anything so strongly, one tends not to regard it in an unbiased way. Sorkin’s bias—his love for mouthy, talented, goofy, whip-smart spitfires—colors the way he writes them. My main beef with Sorkin’s women is that they’re often introduced in context to men first, then revealed to be competent professionals and stunning personalities. For example, Maggie was revealed to be an intern and Don’s girlfriend in the same breath; Mackenzie is Will’s ex before she’s a veteran reporter. Her name is ‘Son of Kenzie, Son of Hale,’ for crying out loud.
In real life women have to work extra hard to distinguish themselves as individuals in the workplace, especially if they’re involved with a colleague. Sorkin is probably just oblivious to those tensions, and as a man who (I’m guessing) loves women who are very much like the characters he writes, introduces them as such: enviable romantic potentialities for his male characters. It’s a problem when people regard women as simply potential girlfriends/hookups, but Sorkin doesn’t do this—he assumes the viewers realize how brilliant and skilled these women are, because he wouldn’t give them the time of day otherwise. You know how Will treats the date who cares about the Real Housewives? That’s how Aaron Sorkin treats stupid people. He wouldn’t write any character who didn’t meet minimum requirements of intelligence, humor, and deftness.
This is why, I think, early episodes of The Newsroom did not devote much time to building Mackenzie’s character, and why many reviewers still have problems caring about her. Will, Jim, Neal, and even Don have had several Big Moments of Professional Prowess, where viewers finally understand why they are so important, and why their quirks and social faux pas are excusable. Mackenzie hasn’t had any such chances because, I think, Sorkin can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t find Mackenzie to be the most amazing woman on the face of the earth. Of course she’s worth renegotiating contracts for, worth obeying while on camera, worth trusting with confidential sources, worth pining for for years on end. She’s Mackenzie, brilliant and beautiful and exactly goofy enough. Sorkin doesn’t take time to show us her competence because it is her fundamental character trait, and what makes all of his women so wonderful. Sorkin, I imagine, finds competence sexy. We share that in common.
Verdict: Sorkin is not trying to make the female characters seem less robust or less important than the men, but it sometimes reads that way because they are so obviously wonderful to him that he fails to let them prove themselves to the viewers.
So in love with women that it trips over its own feet? Bingo.