Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Newsroom Episode 6 "Bullies"

The episode is named “Bullies.”  It is about bullying. It is also about lying. The two often go hand in hand.

Will McAvoy is interviewing a guest on his primetime news show. The man is a former chief of staff for Rick Santorum. He is also black and gay. He is there to support Santorum’s candidacy. McAvoy presses him hard, asking how he can support a man who is vehemently anti-gay and not so much a friend to the blacks either. The man insists that Santorum is worthy of his support because they both have the same paramount issue—they are both anti-abortion, or as the anti-abortion fanatics like to say, pro-life.

I know a good reporter asks tough follow-up questions, but Will goes way over the line. He is no longer an interviewer, he is a bully. 

Finally, the guest has had enough and he explodes. It is now Will’s turn to be cowed as the guest strikes back scoring quite a few good points off Will. The guest says that Will has no right to define him as simply black and gay; he is a full person with many qualities and attributes. Will never admits his wrongdoing, but he does back off, but because he has control over the microphones, he gets the last word.

Later, Sloan learns that she has to sit in as anchor for the show that follows Will’s show.  She is very nervous about doing this and she goes to Will for advice. He tells her to be a tough interviewer. And so she goes after her guest with both guns blazing. Her guest is a Japanese man, discussing the failure of the Japanese nuclear plants after the tsunami struck Japan. He says the danger is a “level 5”. Sloan insists on-air that he told her earlier, off the record, that it is a “level seven,”  the highest level.

Now I’ve never worked on a news show, but I’m pretty sure revealing something that you were told “off-the-record” is a major no-no. Sloan goes even further. She is so worked up over this is that she starts screaming at her guest in Japanese.  (Sloan speaks Japanese among her many talents.)  She’s out of control and just about to cause a major international incident. I'm pretty sure that having a meltdown on live TV is also a no-no.

Of course, Sloan is right—the danger is Level Seven, but still, she is way over the line. She followed her mentor’s example and became a bully.  However, Sloan does not have Will’s experience and prestige, and she gets suspended for her on-air freak-out. 

Now on to the lying. Will and McKenzie are once again confronting each other over Mackenzie’s long ago infidelity. Mckenzie tells Will he was never really serious about her anyway, so what difference does it make, really, that she slipped from the straight and narrow with an old boyfriend. Will unlocks his desk draw, and shows McKenzie an engagement ring. The implication is that he has saved the ring all these years. This shuts Mckenzie down because he is claiming that he was about to ask her to marry him when she cheated on him.

But Will is lying. He bought the ring very recently, keeping it on hand waiting for the right moment to show it to Mckenzie so he could punish her. The ring is a lie. Will is a bully.

Of course, Will and McKenzie could never get married. If they did, she’d be McKenzie McAvoy. A “Mac” in your fist name and your last name—that would never work. Yes, I know, as an independent successful woman, she would never take her husband’s name, but I’m just saying, if she did.

This picture is from