Was The Newsroom's cast inspired by real personalities, since I know that many of the story-lines were based on true news events, but could find no reference to the inspiration behind the lead cast members?
Aaron Sorkin answered this question in an interview with Vulture magazine on June 2012. Contrary to his previous show Sports Night, where the news were made up, in The Newsroom
<< ...the news events will always be real. To make the place seem real, you want to see shards of a news broadcast, you want to see them in rundown meetings, you want to see them doing the job, getting the news. With Sports Night, it was fairly easy to make up fake news that sounded real. All you had to do was say, “And now, the Jets injury report: So-and-so has a torn ACL,” and you’d cut away >>
With regards to the question if the characters were based on real life people, he said that:
<< let’s be really clear about this—no character on the show is based, even a little bit, on anyone from real life. Okay? Anyone. Jeff Daniels is not playing Keith Olbermann. Will bears no resemblance to Keith Olbermann >>
Here's the link to the interview
Keith Olbermann however has a different opinion:
<< This may come as a surprise to Olbermann, who allowed Sorkin to spend several weeks "embedded with" his "Countdown" show during the BP Oil Spill in 2010. Last week, Olbermann told told The New York Times that he believes "The Newsroom" was at least somewhat influenced by his experience on cable news. "This is the second show he's done about my life ...At least this one, I knew I saw it coming. >>