The Newsroom, S1 Ep 8 – The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn

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Hoo boy. This was not an easy episode to sit through-not because it wasn’t good (because it was)-but because of what happens.  It’s much easier to watch the tension-filled rising action before the climax when you can go right on to part two.

Also, Will’s smoking a lot in this episode.  Not attractive, and I hope it fades back down to not so common.

We begin with Will and a reporter sitting in Will’s office.  The reporter (whose name is Brian) is the one of many Will has chosen to potentially do a piece on News Night‘s new direction.  Will is obviously not thrilled about the idea and he’s going to require Brian to just hang out, watch and listen for a while, as an audition.  Will then intends to actually decide whether he’s okay with it and what from the trial period can retroactively go on record.  Also, it’s clear Will and Brian have known each other for a while, more than just as two journalists, and that has something to do with Mackenzie.  Sigh.

Will’s next stop is a meeting with Reese, Charlie, and Mack.  All Reese says is that because News Night chose not to feature the Casey Anthony trial, they went from second to fifth place in the ratings in just five days.  Though Will and Charlie take responsibility for this choice, Reese picks on Mack for it.  Mack tries to claim she’s not in the ratings business, but in it for the viewers.  Reese accurately points out that she’s just lost the viewers.  Then the other three leave and ponder if they can stay afloat without touching on Casey Anthony.  Mack is all for holding course, until she realizes to her dismay that both Charlie and Will advocate caving.  She rants about the awfulness of the story (making excellent points about it, because ugh), but her colleagues won’t give.  Will declares that they won’t “get the debate” if they’re in fifth place.  See, News Night has the chance to host a new kind of presidential debate and Will is willing to sacrifice their principles for a little while to make it happen.  Mack still isn’t convinced; that is, until Charlie points out that a ratings drop like this is the perfect excuse for Leona Lansing to fire Will.

For all Mack’s loyalty to Will, I don’t know what she’s getting out of it.  Mack and Will have a brief conversation about Brian wherein Will assures Mack that Brian’s going to do a serious article, not a tell-all, so Mack’s privacy will be preserved.  So we know, if we didn’t already, exactly who Brian is.  And I don’t understand Will at all because he seems kind of nice to Mack here, but as the episode will underline more than once later, there’s no good reason why Will needs Brian specifically to do this piece.

I think I would watch a show entirely about Sloan Sabbith.

Sloan meets up with Mack at the bar after work.  She wants a few more minutes on the next show to talk about the debt ceiling.  Mack shuts her down and explains why she has to give those minutes to Casey Anthony instead . Sloan still doesn’t give up.  Also, she wants to dish about Brian.  Mack very non-enthusiastically must state that she dated Brian six years ago; which is of, course, when she was dating the guy she eventually cheated with on Will.  Sloan is shocked and wants to know why Will picked him.  Mack has no answer.  Also, she reiterates that basically, unless there’s no other news before the next week begins, it’s doubtful that anything about the debt ceiling vote will get covered.  Of course, that’s when Jim comes over from where the other News Night folk are researching for the mock debate they want to do, with the important update that Anthony Weiner just tweeted a picture of his groin to 40,000 followers.  Everyone, Mack especially, heaves a disgusted and depressed sigh.

At the office, Mack and Will argue about covering this latest fiasco as Brian watches.  Blahblahblah, losing their integrity, blahblahblah, we have to get the debate.  Mack stalks off after agreeing to cover it.  Brian gets Will to confirm, with some difficulty, that they’re only doing this because Leona Lansing hasn’t been liking News Night 2.0 and that she wants to fire Will.

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