The Newsroom S01 E09 – The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate

Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama picks up right where least week’s ep left us hanging… in the dark. Literally.

A power outage causes an interruption in the entire building, and Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) asks Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) what their contingency plan is.

On the fly, Emily gets the entire newsroom motivated to do a broadcast outside in the plaza, and everyone is ready to do it.

Unified in their motivation and their hatred for the types of stories they’ve had to do since they threw their name in to host the debate – stories like the Casey Anthony trial, and the Twitter storm that engulfed Senator Weiner.

All of this is happening under the watchful eye of Bryan Brenner (Paul Schneider) who is still compiling interviews and information for his article.

Sloan (Olivia Munn) is still fighting to get her report on the debt ceiling in any part of the show, though Mac is unsure if there will be time for it with all the info-tainment ‘news’ they have to cover.

Neal (Dev Patel) is still busy truing to find his way into the internet trolls’ inner circle, and warns Sloan that he wants to use her, to drag her name through the mud, and slander her to get into their good graces. Sloan hates the idea of what it may do to her reputation, but recognizes that Neal may have a story on his hands.

We learn that Maggie’s (Alison Pill) roommate Lisa (Kelen Coleman) knew Casey Anthony in high school, and in a very funny scene between Jim (John Gallagher Jr), and Maggie convince her to come on the show.

Lisa works in a fashion store, and while she’s behind the curtain with her client, Jim wonders if they’re kissing. Maggie asks if he thinks they are. And this is what he had to say “If I was a woman, I would spend all day kissing women. I don’t understand gay men or straight women.”

Maggie asks him if he knows he’s talking out loud.

Maggie informs Will and Mac that they have Lisa, but she doesn’t know Casey that well, so they give her talking points about other missing and murdered children.

Despite that when the moment comes, Lisa goes off script and brings up abortion. Will refocuses her, but the damage is done. Her work place is vandalized and spray-painted.

Will has a spare moment and goes to see Dr. Habib (David Krumholtz)and he reveals that he knows, intellectually, that he needs to forgive Mac, but his Doctor points out, he may know it, but he wasn’t rejected by Mac, he was betrayed. And that’s why he can’t forgive her yet.

Finally, a couple of Republican Party officials including one Will knows Adam Roth (Adam Arkin)come to see the News Night team about conducting the Republican Party Debate.  Will leads them onto the floor, so he can show them the format they want to conduct the debate in.

The rest of the team has assumed the roles of the various candidates and Will poses the questions. His intent is to cut through the rhetoric, and hold the candidates accountable for their statements,, and have an actual debate on the things that matter.

Adam’s partner is infuriated and says no way. He sees it as Will’s attempt to make himself out as a crusading journalist, and make the debate about him. Adam disagrees but has no real power to change anything.

They lose the debate, even though it’s offered to Don (Thomas Sadoski) and Sloan, both of whom tell him, less than politely, to take a hike.

And Will immediately returns the show to its more intelligent format, letting Sloan lead on the debt ceiling story.

So instead of a worthwhile debate about the issues at hand, and the lies that cover elections and nominations, CNN hosted it, and had such winning questions as “Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley?” – Info-tainment.

At the end of the episode we see Jim go to Lisa and Maggie’s to tell Maggie how he feels, but finds Don there. Lisa, decides to give him another chance though and they leave Don and Maggie alone. Don tells Maggie he was dating when they broke-up.

And finally, we see Neal finding the troll who posted the death threat against Will.

My reaction to all this?

How is there only one episode left in the season!?!?!?


I have grown to love the characters, the dialogue and the idea that news should be news, and not just what corporations and politicians want us to think.

Why can’t we have an actual debate where we cut through the lies and mud-slinging that happens in politics, and hold people accountable for what they say, and the ‘facts’ they spout? Call them on it when they evade the question, cite correct facts when they try and twist things…

I’d rather see a debate like that instead of knowing if they prefer Elvis or Cash.

And surely, the voting public must want that as well.

Ethics, integrity, objectivity and the facts.

That’s what news programs should be bringing us. Not propaganda, or entertainment masquerading as news.


Is there a face in the news right now you could rust completely? Where are the Murrows? The Cronkites?

Or for print, the Woodwards? The Bernsteins?

I love that this show gets me so riled up about such things, and makes me think about them more than I may have in the past.

But Season 2 is a long way off…

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