This week’s episode, of what is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows opens on a New Year’s Eve party in the newsroom. Wade (Jon Tenney), Mac’s (Emily Mortimer) boyfriend to pitch a story to Will (Jeff Daniels) – that Congress has cut 80% of the funding for the financial investigation by the Department of Justice for their prosecution and fighting of financial crime.
We see Jim (John Gallagher Jr) and Maggie (Alison Pill) flirting with one another, while Don (Thomas Sadoski) watches.
But Don has invited Lisa (Kelen Coleman), Maggie’s roommate to the party to set her up with Jim.
At Sloan’s (Olivia Munn) urging Will goes and talks with Nina (Hope Davis) who he learns is a gossip-columnist for TMI (read as People magazine). He then tries to ‘civilize’ her, by explaining (quite rightly I think) that the people she writes about, wannabe celebrities (Real Housewives of Jersey Shore), are not only entitled to their privacy, but aren’t news-worthy in the first place. It’s not news that she’s reporting, it’s not even infotainment, it’s pandering, mud-slinging and it disguises itself under the faux front of news.
She ends up throwing a drink in his face, and it ends up on Page 6 (which is actually page 10) in the New York Post where he’s made to look like the bad guy.
A couple more dates follow, one with a (jealous) friend of Sloan’s who is carrying a loaded gun in her purse, which Will, despite being a registered Republican, doesn’t approve of.
When Will turns up on Page 6 again, after getting another drink thrown in his face in a bar, Sloan’s friend goes to TMI where they write a take-down piece on him, all without double-checking their facts, more interested in mud-slinging.
On the whole, that is what the episode is about, the importance of fact-checking, on air, Will investigates the claims of Obama’s moves agains gun-control, there have been none, despite the claims from the Republicans, the NRA and gun lobbyists.
He also takes on Obama’s India trip, and the baseless accusation of it costing $200 million a day. A story that Fox, Limbaugh and others ran with… all without checking their sources. More content to sling mud and generate anger than report the facts.
Jim urges Maggie to check her facts about him and Lisa, as it was Don who put them together, and it was Don, who urged Maggie to call him while he called Lisa, so Maggie would hear her familiar ring tone in the background, knowing then that Jim and Lisa were seeing one another.
Charlie (Sam Waterston) who was initially delighting in the news articles about Will calls him into the office on a Saturday to show him the TMI article, and reveal what happened in the meeting in last week’s episode.
He also realizes that the company that owns News Night, also owns TMI, and that this is management’s way of getting at Will, and getting him into a position where they can fire him.
And then, the news hits… it’s January 8, 2011, and Tuscon congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been shot at a public meeting.
Will goes with the story, and though others like Fox and MSNBC are already reporting her death, a lead that only came from one source, he holds, and waits on confirmation.
Which doesn’t come.
They get confirmation from other sources that she is going into surgery, and that’s what they report, maintaining their integrity, and always checking their facts. Not doing info-tainment, but news.
Will and his team are ready to take on management.
I still can’t rave enough about the writing, the characters, and a look (admittedly kind of glossy I’m sure) at journalism and it’s current state on television.
I’m also happy that they’ve also been tapped for a second season!
If more people took to Will’s idea of being civilized (he can wait, he’s in it for the long haul), maybe there would be less of this ‘entertainment’ style of news, and more actual facts.
The Newsroom airs Sundays on HBO… WATCH IT!!!