Tweetable Takeaway: Can journalistic integrity trump pressure from the government? Will and Neal intend to find out.
Airtime:Sunday at 9pm on HBO
By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor
Aaron Sorkin is definitely amping up the tension in this episode of THE NEWSROOM. All of the things that came to a head in the last episode unravel before our very eyes. We’re witnessing a mirror reflection of what’s happened in our own society within the confines of the world of The Newsroom. This is a critique of how things have turned out during Obama’s tenure, with Sorkin yelling through the only window he can reach us, the television, that “He’s mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.” Sorkin’s trying to convince us that neither should we.
We gave up on a lot of our freedoms in post 9/11 America, and we did it at first out of a sense of patriotism. Nothing I’ve seen in my entire life brought the American people together in such a way as they did after the September 11th attacks. The only thing I can remotely being similar, would be the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Americans came together back then in a united force to defeat the growing scourge of the Axis Powers and all they stood for. In our age it was a faceless enemy, always changing and mutating into a new threat. This constant uncertainty and fear drummed up by our elected officials, made the excuse of constant surveillance hard to complain about. Those who did were labeled unpatriotic. So for fear of seeming uncooperative, we’ve allowed ourselves to live our lives online and otherwise completely without privacy.
In 2008 our country elected a president everyone thought was different than the previous one. He was going to run his government in a more transparent way, roll back some of the wars and end them, but most of all, he was supposed to be like us. Things didn’t turn out that way. He continued his predecessor’s covert ways, and even took a harsher stance on journalists, lashing out and punishing several that ran stories from whistleblower sources after said journalists would not reveal their sources. It is an erosion of the freedoms of the press which is supposed to keep our government honest.
We never had any idea about how bad things had become until Edward Snowden and a few others before him shined a light on the sinister behavior of our own government. The rest of the world was rightly appalled by what they found out, but for the most part things have settled back to business as usual here in the States. There doesn’t seem to be much outrage at the way things have continued on. Maybe it has something to say about how complacent a society we are. Somebody needs to stand up to all of this. Enter this season of The Newsroom.
Within this episode runs a theme that seems to have been lost in recent years … Integrity. It infiltrates all of the storylines in different ways. How do you do the right thing when it so much easier not to sometimes? These are the challenges we find our characters in.
Neal is in the same position as some real life journalists after accepting a vast trove of confidential government documents. The kicker is he may have helped the whistleblower commit treason and espionage when he walked the person through how to take documents out of the government system and send them to him at ACN. Basically a lot of bad shit is going down. The newsroom is forming two sides, some who want to run with story found within those documents, and Will and ACN’s lawyer who do not. Neal knows he may face jail time if he does not reveal his source, but is ok with that. In the end they do the right thing, which in turns leads Neal to go on the run when the FBI raids the offices of ACN.
Maggie’s integrity test takes place on a train ride when she overhears a high-ranking member of the EPA tell someone over the phone off the record details which could be potentially embarrassing. She has every legal right to use these statements, but faced with a moral quandary takes the high road and decides not to do it. By doing the right thing, she gets an even bigger story from the EPA guy (played by The Office’s Paul Lieberstein). Oh she may also be dating a McPoyle (It’s Always Sunny) very soon.
With Don and Sloan’s relationship a secret (I still don’t know why) Don has accidently used something Sloan told him about Chipotle’s stock to buy and make a nice profit. Insider trading may be innocently done, but it is still illegal. They have to tell their bosses, about the relationship, maybe, the insider trading, definitively. It’s the only way to keep their integrity.
In the end Will is swayed, he changes his mind. This is something that must be hard to do. Will McAvoy is hardheaded crusader for truth that dug in his heels in this case. Now that he’s personally invested and knows the name of the source, he’s upped the ante. What is going to happen to Neal? Where do you go when you are on the run? What is going to happen to ACN? I doubt Leona will be able to come up with the $4 billion to save the company from the siblings from hell. I think the end of the season will be ACN breaking this big story right before the ship goes down.
More after the break:
– It’s a busy week on The Newsroom, there’s a hostile takeover bid from Reese’s stepsiblings, a twitter fuck up, and all the other messy entanglements of the relational dynamics of people who work and live together.
– Kat Dennings plays Blair, one of Reese’s stepsiblings, one of the masterminds of the hostile takeover. I’m getting pretty tired of Kat playing the part of a sarcastic bitch in almost all of her roles. I’d like to see some range from her, but it seems she’s been pigeon holed.
– Alice will be exiting stage left (thank God) after using ACN’s twitter account to tweet something terrible she thought would be funny and get retweets. So long Grace Gummer, see you in the next show I watch.
– The best line of the episode came out of the mouth of Reese. When Blair tells him he’s a douche, he retorts that he’s “A douche on the side of the angels.”
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.