{TB Talks TV} The Newsroom Review: “Contempt”



Tweetable Takeaway: A Wedding and an incarceration. The beginning or the end of The Newsroom?

Airtime:Sunday at 9pm on HBO

By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

This season of THE NEWSROOM is winding down while the tension is ratcheting up. Things have been a mess at ACN all season, and there are so many different ways the newsgroup is being attacked at once. Are we witnessing the demise of ACN? Or is this a purifying trial in which the chafe falls away and something stronger and more stable is left behind? We only have two more episodes to find out.

All of the problems take center stage in this episode titled “Contempt.” This title has the possibility of meaning so many different things. It could appropriately fit into so many of the different situations going on in The Newsroom.

The most obvious meaning pertains to Will’s unwillingness to reveal the source of the leaks even after being subpoenaed by a Grand Jury. If you remember the Attorney General for National Security from last episode, than you’ll also remember he has Will squarely at the top of his shit list. The government is trying to make an example of Will, much like how in real life James Risen, Judith Miller, and Mathew Cooper have unsuccessfully argued first amendment reporter’s privilege after coming under fire for not disclosing their sources. Of those three, only Miller has gone to jail to protect her source after being held in contempt. Now so has Will McAvoy.

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Another way this can be read is by the government’s contempt for journalists who are not in their pocket. Sure if you stay in line and only report what the government wants known, you will stay safe, but then you’re also doing a disservice to your fellow citizens. Whether or not you believe in the justness of the actions of Edward Snowden, it’s hard not to admit that the he leaked haven’t made a difference. They shed light on some very shady shit our government was doing without the checks and balances of the press to hold them to account for their actions.

Clea Duvall is in the Snowden role in The Newsroom, and much like him, she doesn’t work directly for the government, but for a contractor hired out. The things she’s seen and knows have sickened her. She has knowledge of a conspiracy by the US to manipulate another country using disinformation, which has backfired in a huge way. Whistle blowing should be a protected, but under the possibly false pretense of national security, the government is trying to gag the press. If the silencing of one of the institutions, which has historically kept the government in check, is not contempt for our very democracy, I don’t know what is.

I see the character of Lucas Pruit as a personification of a younger generation completely out of touch with proper journalism. He’s too preoccupied with all of the voices out there to care much about tracking down a story and doing it right. Citizen journalism is all well and good, but it’s no match for a story done right. Checking and double checking to make sure all of the facts are correct before broadcasting what may turn out to be an assumption across the internet and onto everyone’s cell is simply the just and proper thing to do. He is today’s lack of attention span, and his purchase of ACN at the end of the episode seems to be the nail in the coffin of old time journalism. If Pruit has his way journalists at his network will be replaced by any schmo on the street with a cell phone and an opinion. These are comment section trolls as vigilante reporters of truth. It’s a slippery slope, and Hallie can also be seen as a less drastic version of Pruit’s grand idea. Her new at Carnivore (Daily Beast anyone) and her pay based on clicks, is a gateway to the kind of soulless journalism Pruit is striving for. Not to dismiss sites like The Daily Beast entirely, but click bait is mental masturbation for a lost generation. Shunning old time journalism for salacious headlines and a quick click are a form of contempt for the practice and precision of long form journalism. It’s as simple as that.

More after the break:

–  Mackenzie and Will rushing their wedding before his scheduled incarceration was a touching moment. All of their friends were there to bear witness to what their love has wrought: A solid relationship and journalistic integrity. They’ve taken a new direction in their lives together and their professional careers. Plus now Mackenzie can visit him in jail.

–  Neal is still stuck down in Venezuela. Will there be a reprieve? It would be a sad thing if this one decision ruins his life forever.

–  I think there is no doubt that Will eventually gets out of jail even though he won’t reveal the source, but what will he have to come back to? Pruit is going to eat up and shit out ACN into something unrecognizable. Is there a place for an old dinosaur like him anymore? I hope so.

–  The Maggie, Jim, Hallie, and Jack love rectangle hopefully disappears after Maggie and Jack seemingly break up. If Jim can be true to himself enough to kick Hallie out of his life, those two crazy kids might have a shot.

–  The funniest moment of the episode was probably when the HR guy admitted to Sloan and Don that he was just fucking with them all this time because he was bored. He didn’t care if they were a couple.


For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Twitter: @OfSoundnVision

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