Stephen Colbert’s Last Night In Town

•January 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

But we thought he was gone
But he’s come back again
Last week it was funny
And now the joke’s wearin’ thin
‘Cause everyone knows now
That every night now
Will be Stephen’s last night in town

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, the Colbert Report ended on Dec. 18, 2014. For good. The character is unlikely to follow the real Colbert to CBS’ Late Show meaning that faithful Thursday was really Stephen’s last night in town.

(I’m aware that Ben Folds spells it “Steven” but I put the ph version in the lyrics because we aren’t talking about Steve Carell)

It’s been almost a month but I’m still having an issue absorbing this news, will we ever know what Prescott Pharmaceuticals puts out next? Will we ever wonder wistfully about the Word? How will I know that bears are truly the greatest threat to America, a premise confirmed by then-Senator Barack Obama? If it doesn’t feel like it’s truly over, in my gut, how can I believe the books/newspapers that tell me so?

Worse, the talented actor will only begin his late night show on September 8, 2015 — nine days without Stephen Colbert is difficult, nine months seems impossible. As the character put it best: “I still needs my fix.”

Before dwelling on the distant Colbert-less dystopia of a future we’ve got to discuss the Grand Finale of an episode (albeit briefly as it’s been dissected more than any finale since Lost).

The last two series that I’ve been deeply invested in, How I Met Your Mother and The Newsroom, ended with a whimper. I even contemplated if a beloved series could end well — but the Colbert Report completed their run with a roar and an exclamation point.

It had (almost) all the throwbacks you could want (the word, truthiness, Sweetness, Charlene, Audience Guy Carl, Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle, bears, Olympics, rally to keep fear alive, Olympics, Super PAC, Cheating Death, Jon Stewart and SO many more) — it was a true celebration for everything. It was so good I encourage you to watch it again right here and now (go ahead, I’ll wait).

The utter brilliance from the news segment to the Word to cheating (and then killing) Death. In the experience of the show, the staff took the mundane to the crazy and brought it into absurdity — it was pure perfection. It would have just been wrong for the man (myth and legend) to be killed after cheating death/Grimmy so many times and I’m truly thankful that they didn’t go that route.

The ending had a blissful, cheerful tone thanks to the music, guests and hopeful words (from the song ‘We’ll meet again’ to Colbert, in eternity, saying “this was fun” to the Stewart-Colbert toss interaction). But it also had a poignant edge, as much of the show’s satire contained, with ending with Holland, 1945 (played at many of his tapings). If you haven’t heard that story yet I’ll let Slate recap it.

It was a half hour of comedy perfection, up there with any ending I’ve ever seen in TV. The joke wasn’t wearing thin in the slightest, the man is just getting a call up to the Bigs.

I don’t want to overstate the importance of the show, but I’m not sure that’s even possible at the point. The amount of joy it brought me and millions of others so consistently is amazing. The amount of knowledge it gave to the Nation is incredible.

Let’s not speculate on what kind of show this group of writers (I understand that most are going to CBS), producers, crew and (of course) host will bring to broadcast. We’ll have plenty of time to do that as we count the days until September.

I’m writing this to celebrate the Stephen Colbert I saw on television four nights a week for what feels like forever (and since I now know how to trust my gut instead of facts, thanks Stephen!, I can say it was forever). The “well-intentioned, poorly informed high-status idiot” proved undeniably brilliant to watch and taught us a great many things.

Goodbye to the character who truly was the greater — no, GREATEST — fool.


Newsroom Season 3 Episode 6: What a day it has been

•December 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This is late but this is the final episode of the Newsroom and I wanted to put everything in one post (instead of like 20 different posts) and start deciding on the future of this blog. Nothing has been decided but I’m sure things are changing.

Overall: I was pretty disappointed by this episode, it seemed disjointed and strange throwbacks to things I didn’t care about — overall it made me more OK with the show ending but also yelling “That’s it?!?” at the TV.

Will McAvoy: Ellen! Ellen!
Random employee: He means you.
Maggie Jordan: Excuse me, sir. Do you mean me?
Will: Who the hell do I mean when I say your name?
Maggie: I’m Maggie. Margaret. Maggie’s fine.
Will: I need Ellen.
Maggie: Does anyone know someone named — I don’t think there’s anyone here named Ellen.
Will: I can’t keep track. Karen I think her name is.
Maggie: I don’t think there’s anyone named Karen here either.
Will: My assistant. She sits right over there.
Maggie: I’m your assistant now. You promoted me last week.
Will: I have no memory of that.
Maggie: You fired Ellen and then forgot that you did and thought I was Ellen.

So in this flashback we’re showing bad Will, but I don’t want to go to a character I’ve never known in a big time change in the last episode. Also this brought to mind the fact that Jeb Bartlett never remembered names, which took me down a rabbit hole deep enough to get buried in so I’ll move on.

Will: Don, the storm is now causing record flooding in New England.
Don Keefer: We’ll drop that into the copy.
Will: And clear out the block.
Don: The whole block?
Will: Yeah.
Don: That means throwing out Moscow.
Will: Remind me.
Don: A pair of suicide bombers attacked two subway stations, 38 dead, officials think it was Chechen rebels fighting–
Will: Record flooding, FEMA’s saying 200,000 people in Rhode Island could be affected.
Don: Yeah, it’s raining in Providence. Everyone’s gonna be okay. You really want the whole block?
Will: Yes.

I thought Don was supposed to be the person pushing for ratings… this is just backtracking on any growth we thought Keefer made as a character and reminded us of what a mess Maggie was (although I’m still not sure where she is in the final season — is she the next Mac?)

Will: It’s been several days since I asked Don Keefer to have the website do a poll on Obamacare so I could do a segment on the poll.
Neal Sampat: Yeah, Don spoke to me about that and I wasn’t sure what kind of poll question you were looking for.
Will: Really?
Neal: Yeah.
Will: Do you favor Obamacare?
Neal: Are you sure that’s a good idea?
Will: What’s the problem?
Neal: For one thing, it hasn’t been implemented yet.
Will: I know that.
Neal: It’s just that polling is a science and this wouldn’t be a proper —
Will: What are you talking about?
Neal: If you want to spend the money on polling —
Will: Just ask the question, give the answer to graphics. They’ll put it up on the screen, I’ll talk about it with a guest.
Neal: I’m just trying to protect the integrity of the website.
Will: It’s a website. It doesn’t have integrity.

Pretty ridiculous on multiple accounts. I thought Will didn’t know he even has a blog but he knows about the website and is suggesting features? Doing a poll before something is implemented is common — it’s especially important to see if after it launched did things change. Not every poll has to be a scientific study of what all Americans/voters/populations of people think about something — they can be for fun, they can show you what audience you have and it might tell you something about a bigger thing. I resent the implication that a website doesn’t have integrity because it’s a website — a medium isn’t what brings credence to things, the message does.

Charlie Skinner: So I was at their house last weekend and I wander out to the garage and see Bo teaching “That’s How I Got to Memphis” to his friends. And I ask him, “What’s a kid from New Rochelle doing singing about Memphis?” He said, “Memphis is a stand-in for wherever you are right now.” That it really means that’s how I got here.

This is pretty heavy handed, you had to know Will and Jim Harper would be playing this song with Charlie’s family. That in itself isn’t bad but it seemed like the song itself was a strange fit here.

Charlie: Have you ever thought about having kids?
Will: You mean adopting?
Charlie: Adopting, abducting. Meeting somebody, getting married. Whatever it takes.
Will: I haven’t considered abducting anyone, but I’ve thought about the others.
Charlie: And?
Will: Well, first of all, I’m now in my 50s and I need to consider that I’m gonna die and will my kid be old enough to handle it when I do?
Charlie: There’s no age at which you’re okay with your father dying.
Will: But there’s a difference between being an adult and dropping a piano on a kid.
Charlie: You don’t look to me like you’re gonna die anytime soon. And if you got hit by an ice cream truck, they’d still have you as a father for a while.
Will: Yeah, I’m not sure that’s a prize.
Charlie: Why?
Will: I’ve read plenty of experts who say that whatever undiagnosed shit my father has can be hereditary.
Charlie: Your father’s an alcoholic, you’re not.
Will: I’m talking about — He’s obviously lived his life with some kind of severe depression.
Charlie: Your depression isn’t chemical.
Will: Who says I’m depressed?
Charlie: I do.

I’ve had a lot of deep conversations and I’ve had many conversations over drinks/at a bar but I’ve never had one like this. Was the point just to reinforce that Will and Charlie are true friends? That’s either been established in the first two seasons or we need to forget about it. A short PSA: Try not to talk about alcoholism in a bar, it’s not the place for it.

Charlie: The president in his first visit to Afghanistan as the president meets with Hamid Karzai. And then I couldn’t believe the words that came out of your mouth next. “We’ll have two top campaign strategists here in the studio to debate the war right after this.”
Will: They were good guests.
Charlie: What in the hell are we doing having two campaign hacks from the D-triple-C and the RNC on our air debating America’s longest war when you know as well as I know that they know exactly as much as what’s printed in their talking points?
Will: Who would you have preferred?
Charlie: Anybody from AEI, Brookings, Heritage, Cato. Anybody from State or Defense. Anybody from House or Senate Foreign Relations. At the very least you could get the guy who wrote the talking points.
Will: There’s a midterm election coming up.
Charlie: In six months. So why do you book a red guy and a blue guy? For the fight.

Eh, I’m not sure having any sort of talking heads is a decent way of conveying policy even if they are from Brookings, Cato, the state department or especially a politician. Everyone in that group is just going through talking points. Why not just axe the guests? Also being six months away from the midterms doesn’t mean much anymore — the campaigns were well into full swing.

MacKenzie McHale: I’m seven weeks pregnant and there’s like a five in nine chance that it’s yours.
Will: I don’t care if there’s no chance it’s mine. It’s mine now. Couple of questions.
Mac: Give them to me.
Will: Are you feeling all right? Should you be standing up? Is it all right for you to be outdoors?
Mac: I feel great and I’m allowed to be outdoors for the first eight weeks.
Will: Feels like that was a joke, but I can’t tell.
Mac: It was.
Will: Moratorium on jokes for the next week and seven months. Have you had an amnio?
Mac: In between getting off the phone and talking to you? No, I was going to use the amnio room in the chapel, but they were out of really long needles.
Will: What rule did I just make about jokes?
Mac: I don’t think you’re gonna be making rules for a while.

Not surprised but OK with the fact that Mac is pregnant. This was some nice dialogue and I liked it right outside a funeral — it didn’t feel heavy handed in comparison to the other stuff.

Jim: That was a nice service. Episcopalians know what they’re doing. I thought Will was gonna give the eulogy, but —
Maggie: Pipe down a second.
Jim: Okay.
Maggie: Terry Smith wants me to come down and interview for a field producer job in DC. A field producer job in DC.
Jim: I know.
Maggie: How do you know?
Jim: I’m the one who recommended you.
Maggie: When?
Jim: Yesterday. She called and said, “Who’s ready for a promotion? Who’s the best you’ve got?” I said Gary. Then Tess. Kendra, Tamara, then Martin. And then I said, “But Maggie Jordan is the sixth best we’ve got. You couldn’t do any better than Maggie unless you went with one of the other five.” I’m kidding. I said, “You’ve got to take Maggie.” Well, I have to go down to DC tomorrow to interview. You’re gonna get it.

They tell us that Maggie is better than those five but I haven’t been shown anything to prove that. At this point, I’m completely conflicted on if I like Jim or not — I’ve gone back and forth in the past — he seems to constantly be working against himself.

Leona Lansing: Two days ago the story from Valleywag comes out saying you pay women at Kwench less than men. And then yesterday a story in The New York Observer says you hired hookers for your 35th birthday party.
Lucas Pruit: It didn’t say that. It said I hired models for my party.
Leona: Mm. Any of the models men?
Pruit: No.
Leona: So you hired young women to be guests at your party.
Pruit: It’s not uncommon.
Mac: It’s not?
Leona: Were these women given dress codes?
Pruit: The whole party had a dress code.
Leona: The invitation said suggested dress.
Pruit: You got hold of an invitation?
Leona: So was the dress code for these young women suggested or was it mandatory?
Pruit: The women weren’t hired for sex. I don’t expect you to understand this. They were hired to be living art.
Leona: First of all, you shouldn’t expect anyone to understand that. Second, you need to know that every time you try to explain it, you just make it worse.

Wow, women issues am I right? Some Sorkin meta stuff going on here but this isn’t the same thing, you need to make Pruit’s situation much worse to force the head of a company into action — people still have relatively short memories.

Charlie: I was able to get in touch with your friend Jim Harper and he told me that at 11:00 AM on a Monday I could find you at the Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes. Then he said, “Yeah, you heard me right.” And that was pretty much it. You’re serious about bowling?
Mac: I just took it up recently. I bowled a strike once when I was a little girl and it seems to me if you can do it once, then you should be able to do it 12 times in a row, which would be a perfect game.

This just makes Mac look stupid and makes Charlie seem desperate but we don’t have something that started this (was it talking about the weather) and the timeline is pretty difficult to keep up with.

Mac: Well, haters gonna hate.
Charlie: That’s not your first beer today, is it?
Mac: I’m not sure, but I think the reason I’ve been drinking lately is to numb the feeling of despair.
Charlie: If you were thinking clearly, you probably would have asked me by now why I came down to Washington to talk to you.

Charlie judging people’s day drinking habits? WHAT!? Mac saying haters going to hate? Really out of character. Also isn’t saying “the reason I’ve been drinking lately is to numb the feeling of despair” a little on the nose?

Don: Market Rip-off With Sloan Sabbith.
Sloan: Wrap-up.
Don: I’m kidding. It’s just what we call —
Sloan: Yeah.
Don: It’s not a joke about you or the show.
Sloan: I understand.
Don: It’s more about how the banks play it a little fast and loose with subprime mortgages.
Sloan: It’s fine. On dayside we call you the executive producer of Train Wreck With Will McAvoy.
Don: It’s not as clever as Market Rip-off ’cause it doesn’t have the same alliterative relationship to the — You know what? How can I help you?
Sloan: Friday night you had Rothstein on. It was right after the totally newsworthy segment on the season finale of 24.
Don: It was the series finale. And do you have a problem with Jack Bauer?
Sloan: I’ve got a problem with Jake Rothstein and now I’ve got a problem with Will McAvoy.
Don: Sounds like your problem with Will started before last night.
Sloan: It did, but that’s neither here nor there. Rothstein said it’s perfectly legitimate for their firm, referring to Goldman, to have sold off those toxic assets that were exposing them to risk. “The people who bought them from us should have known better.”
Don: You did that without notes.
Sloan: Yeah. And you know what McAvoy’s follow-up was? “We’ll be right back after this.”
Don: You’d have liked to have seen a tougher follow-up.
Sloan: Tough-er?
Don: You’d have liked to have seen a tough follow-up.
Sloan: Or any. How about this: “Wasn’t the twisted brilliance of the big banks that they managed to conceal a bunch of subprime mortgages inside a collection of other more legitimate mortgage-backed securities”?
Don: That wasn’t a loaded question?
Sloan: I’ll deload it. How would these customers know that these assets were toxic since the established companies gave them a triple-A rating?
Don: You have your own show and you’re free to ask your guests any questions you’d like.
Sloan: And I would have, but my guest, Jacob Rothstein, was poached by your booker so your boss could ask him if he watches 24. This is one of the people who caused the crash and is freely roaming the countryside.
Don: Sloan, you came down here and insulted my anchor and demanded to know why we didn’t prepare a better interview. Let me add this to the conversation. For two years I’ve been listening to people like you say they can’t believe no one’s been prosecuted for these Wall Street crimes, and after two years, I’m still fuzzy on what crime was committed and who should be prosecuted for it. You’re a financial news reporter who gets to spend an hour on one subject and I’m at least an average consumer of news and you have failed to get me to understand what you’ve called the most important story of the last 10 years. So after you get done telling me how badly we did our job last night, you may want to do an internal investigation of your own work.

A good point by Don, it’s an especially difficult for wonky people (be it economics or any stat heavy field) to put stuff in a way an average consumer can understand and I find it impossible to believe that a high-ranking Goldman person would willingly walk into that ambush.

Charlie: I’ve watched tape and during the short time you two worked together at CNN, you were onto something.

Now my timeline is all jumbled up. When were they both at CNN? I can’t keep the dates straight.

Mac: There was a time when journalism wasn’t a career, it was a calling.

Many people still think it’s a calling and I bet that many people back then thought of it as a career and NOT a calling.

Pruit: I have a plan, Leona. I’m not improvising. I’ve been up all night with the most expensive PR people in New York. I’m gonna speak to the 10,000 Women Initiative at the Clinton Foundation. I’m sponsoring the Matrix Awards for Women Leadership in Communication. And Business Insider is gonna do a profile on me in which I will be likable.

This is a common mistake, you don’t fix bad press with good press — you generally can only fix bad press with time and then (maybe) with some new news. Stop the bleeding and wait to see if this storm passes.

Leona: You have a PR problem because you have an actual problem.

But you can’t fix the actual problem. No matter if you promote one person that doesn’t solve the larger issue.

Sloan: Markets rely on Standard & Poor’s to objectively rate debt. But the companies that want a favorable debt rating are the same companies that pay Standard & Poor’s. You follow so far? Don: Yeah.
Sloan: Banks wrote a ton of bad mortgages to people they knew were going to default. It’s called predatory lending. Then hid those bad mortgages inside good mortgages to shine up the books for S&P, which gave them triple-A ratings. Then they’d bundle the whole thing and sell the debt to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which is owned by–
Don: You and me.
Sloan: Yes. And then the banks bet on those loans defaulting. Not that much different from fixing a college basketball game except a ton of people wind up broke and homeless. Those people can’t buy things anymore, so businesses start going out of business and more people are broke. When you start eliminating consumers, you start eliminating jobs, which eliminates consumers, which eliminates jobs, which eliminates consumers, and you see where this is going?

That wasn’t all that easy to follow and Don’s point was explain it on your show (maybe with a slowed volume) and not JUST explain it to people who already know.

Sloan: Would it be forward if I asked a man if he wanted to get a cup of coffee? I was kind of in his face and then it turned out he got a demotion, so and if he says no, then I’ve got to come to work with him every day.

Is this the definition of a stupid question, GATHER YE ROSEBUDS!

Mac: What happened here?
Jim: Most of the furniture was Audrey’s. Some of it was mine, but she liked it.
Mac: And so you gave away your furniture?
Jim: Seemed like the least I could do.
Mac: She didn’t take it well.
Jim: She called me a Lost Boy.

But she still takes the furniture? It seems like Jim would make an awful friend (that he isn’t trying to sleep with). We’re supposed to think Jim has grown because all of a sudden he’s OK with long distance relationships, that’s what he’s overcome in three seasons? Something that we didn’t even know about until midway through the series finale? Sorry, I can’t buy that.

Bree: Are you Neal?
Neal: Yeah.
Bree: Welcome back, man.
Neal: “The Nine Most Overrated Movies of All Time.”
Bree: We thought it would be fun.
Neal: For who?
Bree: For movie fans. Look, I know this —
Neal: And I saw you went all the way back to The Matrix.
Bree: Yeah.
Neal: 1999.
Bree: Yeah.
Neal: All time and 14 years are two different units of measurement. But my question is why is overrated more fun than, say, underrated? You embarrass me.
Bree: I what?
Neal: It took me a long time to build ACN Digital. I was laughed at by the people in this newsroom. People I respect didn’t respect what I did around here, but I built this into a tool that gathered, expanded on, and disseminated information that’s useful. I kept telling my colleagues and my bosses that the Internet is user sensitive just like most things. And I’ve watched from 1,000 miles away while you proved that. You embarrass me. Build a page that says the site’s down for repair.
Web dev: For an hour?
Neal: For a week. We’re gonna rebuild the whole thing.

Does Neal want people to call classics overrated? The 10 most overrated movies are probably all from the last 20 years (no, I won’t actually made this list). Why wouldn’t they do all those lists? Overrated, underrated and all of that stuff? People like lists, it makes points easy to go with and, again, the medium isn’t really the issue here. How is the site going to be down FOR A WEEK? An hour of planned downtime is awful and you can’t just have an under construction page for ACN digital — you always build a beta while you are still working on this site.

Nancy Skinner: He was praying you were gonna fight him on it. The last seven weeks were hell for him since Leona sold the network to Pruit. He wasn’t angry that you guys were fighting him. He was counting on it. He loved you, Don. And he was so proud of you. I doubt you killed him. That had to be hard to say to me and I appreciate it, but I don’t care. I care what you did for him while he was alive.

Is this supposed to be a surprise? You had to know a monologue like this was coming and I’m just sad it had to come from a new character that we didn’t know/care about until this point.

Gary Cooper: You know what I always thought would be fun if I was a parent? You teach your kid something wrong like wood comes from birds and you see how long you can keep it going. They’re all grown up and at a dinner party and people are admiring the table and your kid says, “It took a lot of sparrows to make that table.

I think this is the best bit of the whole episode, by a lot. If we’re doing a spinoff I vote that Gary is the main character.

Jim: Cancel the interview in DC.
Maggie: Why?
Jim: I’m the new EP of News Night and my first move is making you senior producer.
Maggie: Seriously?
Jim: Yeah.
Maggie: Congratulations! That’s sensational.
Jim: Thank you.
Magie: I’m incredibly flattered, but I’m going to interview for the other job.
Jim: Why?
Maggie: I want to be a field producer. It’s DC. I’ll be in line for the White House.
Jim: Is this because I recommended you for the job — and then wasn’t upset enough that you– Maggie: No.
Jim: Then why wouldn’t you want to be senior producer?
Maggie: I want to be a field producer. It’s DC. I’ll be in line for the White House. Did you not hear me the first time?
Jim: Fine.
Maggie: Fine?
Jim: It was a big deal. I don’t care how many days it’s been and I’m not delusional either. It is more than it is.
Maggie: It is to me, too.
Jim: Really?
Maggie: Yeah. I just said those things.
Jim: You’ll stay in New York?
Maggie: No. I’m going to interview for the job in DC. You know why?
Jim: I’ll take the last plane every Friday night after the show and then the first plane back on Mondays.
Maggie: Or sometimes I could come to New York.
Jim: Or meet in the middle of New Jersey.
Maggie: That’s right.
Jim: Yeah.
Maggie: Have you had a lot of long-distance relationships?
Jim: Yes.
Maggie: Have any of them worked?
Jim: No.

This is a nice stretch that shows a bunch of things I can’t stand about Jim, I guess it’s good that Maggie stood up for herself but I wish she had a better reason for going to DC: I want to succeed without everyone around, I want to do specific things that I couldn’t do there, I want to make contacts or something. The last part is just stupid.

Will: I have faith.
Mac: Why?
Will: There’s a hole in the side of the boat. That hole is never going to be fixed and it’s never going away and you can’t get a new boat. This is your boat. What you have to do is bail water out faster than it’s coming in. Also, I have to not die. That’s crucial.
Mac: It’s always gonna be something with you, isn’t it?

Is this just an awful impression of the guy in the hole speech. No, can’t except that but let’s just put in the video of that speech

Sigh, I miss Leo.

Newsroom ended up being closer to Studio 60 than West Wing or Sports Night and that’s sad and will be disappointing in the moment but hopefully we can look upon it later with greater clarity and it will seem better.

Newsroom Season 3 Episode 5: Oh Shenandoah

•December 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I wrote a few posts that I decided to trash for various reasons about the media stories of the week — this episode of the Newsroom gave me the ability to touch on most of what I wanted to talk about. I’m hopeful that I can do it in a reasonable/respectful way. Deep breath. Here goes nothing.

First, the name of the episode has to be based on the folk song, which will draw comparisons to the episode Fix You but this episode felt very different (in part due to the ending of the series approaching).

Jailer: Since I got here, you’re my third contempt of court. First one was a contested traffic ticket. The guy cursed at the judge. The second one was a lawyer.
Will McAvoy: What’d he do?
Jailer: He cursed at the judge. You’re my first reporter.
Will McAvoy: I’m Will. I’d shake your hand —
Jailer: I know who you are. So the traffic ticket, he was here for a night. But the lawyer was here for a weekend. Three nights, and you could tell he was starting to go a little — you know, it affected him. You’re gonna be locked in a cage now, and it’s not a natural thing.

I don’t think you generally get an orientation from your jailer. Although, on a completely different point, this is reminding me of how much I’d love to have Aaron Sorkin write an episode of Orange is the New Black. Just one. He could write a helluva episode around Lorna Morello and it would be completely different from every other bit. Don’t know how prison would change his writing but I’d be excited to see it and find out.

52 Days Later!

That’s a LONG time, I’ll admit that I didn’t see a flash forward like that coming — very surprised.

ACN Ad: You aren’t a consumer, you’re a citizen. You aren’t an audience, you’re an activist. You aren’t a viewer, you’re ACN. You are ACN.

Honestly, not the worst commercial I’ve ever seen. Heck, it’s not the worst ad I’ve seen this weekend. We’re getting into the point where you can compare ACN with The New Republic, other outlets will probably do a better job at that than I can so I will leave it for them.

MacKenzie McHale: It’s as offensive as I thought it was gonna be when I heard about it.
Charlie Skinner: Offensive to whom?
Mac: Me. And him. And Will and Sloan and everyone who works here and you. We are ACN.
Charlie: It’s a slogan. It doesn’t mean anything.
Mac: First, I wouldn’t be relived that our new slogan doesn’t mean anything.
Charlie: I meant–
Mac: But it isn’t a slogan. It’s a statement of our new direction.

You can call a statement of a new direction made for an ad a slogan.

Don Keefer: It looks like urine.
Charlie: It doesn’t, you’re just complaining for the sake of it. The best graphics house in the UK was paid $700,000 to build that spot.
Don: I don’t mean the animation. U-R-A-C-N. Our brains are trained to see groups of letters as a word and visually that group of letters looks like urine.

I’ve heard of those studies that suggest Don’s point but I don’t see it — also I don’t think most people see the word urine spelled out all that often.

Mac: Young people know when they’re being patronized. Everybody knows when they’re being patronized.
Charlie: I’ve been hearing this for 52 days.
Mac: Because in 52 days, I’ve put three Twitter monitors on our set. Passing weather systems are reported like al-Qaeda sleeper cells. And a total of 84 air minutes have been spent on the mayor of Toronto while zero minutes have been spent on the mayor of Detroit whose city is about two minutes away from bankruptcy.

That’s some great writing. I’d argue that Rob Ford smoking crack, breaking laws and generally being a laughingstock is more important to voters in Toronto than the fact that Detroit is crashing (which had been the case for awhile). Obviously, covering the crisis in Detroit is important but what can you show/solve/inform in a cable news program? It’s very hard to carry on complex dialogues (as you would need with a city declaring bankruptcy) in a one segment block. Sometimes it seems as if this would be a lot better if the show was based around a newspaper.

Charlie: Also in those 52 days, we’ve gone from fourth to third in households and second in the demo. In seven weeks, the average age of our audience has dropped three years. And we did all that while still managing to cover a military takeover in Egypt and most recently, a pretty big scandal involving the NSA. We’ve got two reporters at the Moscow Airport right now. Two. So can you do me a favor and not worry that the world’s most benign promo is a threat to democracy?

Why not convince these people to use ACN? They could have a web page (since I know how much they hate the word blog) just devoted to this stuff. It seems that their news budget is something most media organizations would kill for.

Don: So, the Princeton story. The website.
Charlie: There is an epidemic of campus sexual assaults in this country. It’s a perfectly legitimate story. In fact, it’s an important one, so what’s your fucking problem?
Don: I agree. I just don’t know how to do the story.
Charlie: I don’t understand.
Don: I don’t know how to do it. I’m looking for some guidance.
Charlie: You interview the student with the website. You interview one of the guys who’s been accused. Why is it complicated?

Ah, now we get to the Rolling Stone portion. I’m going to try to tread pretty lightly here while still making some points (and transcribing a ton of this out of habit). You need to do more than that. We find out later about a police report: get it. Fact check everything. Find witnesses. Check everything with lawyers and make sure you have general statistics about ALL cases. It basically boils down to this: Get all the information, get all the facts right and then (and only at that point) consider how to present it.

Don: Well, it’s complicated for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that Pruit wants them both in the studio.

The owner of a media company can’t micromanage those things. He either has to trust the people he has or get new ones. It’s not the “not knowing how” thing it’s if he trusts the people to do the news in a manner which is appropriate.

Sloan Sabbith: I was just chewed out for 10 minutes by Erin Andrews.

Is Sorkin a big Erin Andrews fan or something?

Sloan: The paparazzi knew she was in there because of our creepy stalker app. I’m coming to you as my superior, which I mean only in a sense of our organizational chart, and pleading with you to have what’s his name —
Don: Bree
Slaon: Bree shut down the app.

In what world does Sloan think that Don has the power over all of ACN digital? He produces a show. The doesn’t control the digital production of the network.

Bree Dorrit: I’m senior editor of ACN Digital, if you’re going to be insulting.
Don: Nobody wants to be insulting.
Sloan: I badly want to be insulting.
Don: Here’s the thing, Sloan got a call from Erin Andrews–
Bree: You know Erin Andrews?

I have a hard time believing that someone at that level would be star struck that one TV star knows another TV star.

Bree: Yowza, I want to get with that so bad.

This is supposed to be a SENIOR EDITOR, I don’t know what digital editors Sorkin has met but he needs to do another newsroom tour and figure out that they aren’t completely incompetent and stupid.

Slaon: I’ll pass that on. I’m sure she’ll want you to have her number.
Bree: Hey, fuck you
Slaon: Yeah?
Don: You can’t talk to her like that, my friend.

Really, a simple “fuck you” I understand this is all just the foreplay to Sloan killing him on the air but he could have said something much more insulting.

Don: Listen, no kidding around, you need to disable the app until we can figure this out, ’cause it’s a little not what we do.
Bree: What’s not what you do?
Sloan: Giving deranged people with access to semiautomatic weapons the locations of their targets while simultaneously turning the rest of our brains into wheatena.

Totally agree with Sloan’s first point on the deranged people, on the second point: if you don’t like it and don’t read it/use it how will it turn your brain into anything?

Bree: That app’s driving a lot of traffic?
Don: I don’t care if it’s driving in the Grand Prix of Monaco. I need you to temporarily take it down.
Sloan: Then permanently take it down.
Bree: You need to speak to my boss.
Sloan: He’s your boss.
Don: I’m your boss.
Bree: Lucas Pruit is my boss. I pitched him the app and he loved it, which is why he have it.

Now that’s pretty accurate. People need to learn to read org charts.

Don: This is a warmed-over version of the same app Gawker had and took down five years ago.
Bree: They still have a version of it, but this one’s better.
Don: Look–
Bree: No, you look. We’re all a little tired of being treated like we’re not Neal Sampat. I like my app and it makes money, both of which are more than I can say for your 10:00 hour. So if you have a problem, and I got a hunch you got more than a few, why don’t you take it to Pruit?
Don: Beat him up
Slaon: No, he’s right.

Here’s where they lose me. No chance anyone buys this crap. Also it’s nuts to think that Sloan would have him on the show and the phone number. Just a waste.

Don: There’s an undergrad at Princeton who started a website for students who have been raped, but who don’t have enough evidence for the police to take action. Victims can go onto the site either anonymously or not and name names and describe their experiences. Pruit wants the undergrad and one of the accused in the studio.
Sloan: That’s a terrible idea
Don: I know, do you have a better one?
Sloan: Don’t do it?
Don: Do you have a better one where I get to keep my job?
Sloan: Charlie’s gonna back you.
Don: Charlie told me to do it.

It’s a little strange that Charlie completely changed in the space between last episode and this one but we didn’t get to see the change. Another episode of Charlie getting convinced to go this route and/or forced would have been good (OK, honestly I’m just trying to bargain for another episode).

Jim Harper: I want to ask him [Edward Snowden] at what point he decided to declare war on the United States.
Maggie Jordan: So I think you should let me get the ball rolling.
Jim: You and your whole generation’s contempt for institutions.
Maggie: I’m two years younger than you.
Jim: With your hair and your clothes and your music.

Even Jim wouldn’t start with that kind of question, that’s absolutely nuts.

Maggie: I was brushing up on my Russian with my Russian phrase book, or Russkiy razgovornik, while you were watching “Star Wars” on your iPad.
Jim: Trek. “Star Trek.” Both excellent examples of genius, but different in every imaginable —
Maggie: Yeah, shut up

I think Jim spent his time on the plane better than Maggie.

Cellmate: You aren’t afraid you’re gonna run into some of the people you sent here?
Will: That’s why I’m supposed to be in solitary.

Makes sense, still glad it was spelled out to those who don’t remember Will’s past.

Charlie: Today she [Lady Gaga] broke her silence and tweeted in support of — in defense of — in support of overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Sloan’s going to interview her manager.
Mac: You’re still able to hear yourself when you speak, right?
Charlie: Yeah.
Mac: I’m glad Lady Gaga wants to engage people–
Charlie: She has 40 million Twitter followers.
Mac: Does her manager bring expertise to the table on marriage equality?
Charlie: What kind of expertise is there on that subject?
Mac: Someone who’s familiar with state legislature.

Why does it have to be about policy? We had the biggest shift in public opinion in the shortest amount of time that anyone has ever seen (with the polling data). Is that not a story? Looking into why people changed their minds and if pop culture had an influence? Now, that’s probably not what Gaga’s people are looking to sell but you could put a news hook on this.

Charlie: How about she brings 40 million people to a civil rights debate? I don’t think gay couples who’d just like to move the fuck on with their lives are as choosy about that discussion.
Mac: It’s trending, Charlie. Lady Gaga’s tweets, they’re trending number one. So Pruit picked up the phone and said “Do this.” That’s why you book her manager, to report on the tweets.

Then Mac has to suggest a compromise, she’s been losing this fight and isn’t going to win by the high road — but she might by finding the middle ground.

Honestly, the conversation about reporting on rape deserves much more info than I can put into this blog post and it’s not the place for the commentary that’s normally on the blog. I will add that the Phat Lady is on the menu at Hoagie Haven in Princeton.

I’m also realizing that we’re at the point where I won’t get invested in new characters. I don’t care enough about what the cellmate says to transcribe it and the Jim/Maggie situation is wonderfully familiar (some may call it predictable but I’m sticking with wonderfully predictable for now).

Jim: I like you. And I don’t really know why you don’t know that.
Maggie: Because if you wanted to be with me, you’d be with me.
Jim: That’s just not at all true. You were with Don when I met you.
Maggie: You never called me from New Hampshire.
Jim: Yes, I did.
Maggie: No, you didn’t. Ever. And you knew I had split up with Don and you knew why. You went through Lisa, you went through Hallie. And you never called me from New Hampshire. So it’s really not as obvious as you think it is. And it’s also probably not true.
Jim: Well, the rest might be right — it’s not, but it had potential — but the last thing was unambiguously wrong.
Maggie: What language are you–
Jim: I do like you. I like you and I’m glad I said it. Even though now I wish I had said it at the end of a 13- hour flight.

This speech is the Maggie-Jim relationship in one scene. It’s probably be better when written out than spoken — it’s hard to get every word of it when just listening (trust me).

Maggie: Follow me.
Jim: Where are we going?
Maggie: Exactly where you think we’re going

How did nobody make a mile high club reference there? They’re on HBO, that had to have been considered.

Slaon: Editor of ACN Digital.

Quick note: they should really say “senior editor” or “an editor” as to not leave any impression that he is “the editor” even though that’s how they treat Bree.

ACNgage is obviously awful and really hard to defend and Bree needs to know when to walk away (it was ASAP).

Confused by Sloan’s stats, I always thought the average income for a hosuehold was about $60,000. I’d be shocked if it was under $30K. Also the median would probably be better for her point than the mean.

Pruit: Her and her, tell ’em to pack their shit and get out of here.
Charlie: I apologize for the interview.
Sloan: I don’t
Pruit: Pack up your shit and get out of here, lady
Charlie: Look–
Pruit: She tore apart our network except it isn’t ours, it’s mine. So either Thelma and Louise vacate the premises in the next five minutes or I will fire the mother fucking lot of you right now.
Charlie: No, you won’t. ‘Cause you can’t. Only I can. A parting gift from Mrs. Lansing

How the hell did we get this far into the episode before that came up? It’s also absurd and Pruit has to be able to fire Charlie or at least keep paying them but replace them and run the contract out. Just craziness that he can’t do anything.

I knew (from the episode summaries) that someone was going to die so it wasn’t a surprise when Charlie died.

Newsroom: Season 3, Episode 4: Contempt

•November 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Posts on consecutive days, crazy! Liveblogging this thing.

MacKenzie McHale: If they had grand juries in East Germany and East Germany still existed, then that’s where we’d be right now.

What? We went from one the best starts of Aaron Sorkin’s career to this? Disappointing. Yes, I’m already judging this episode (it’s that kind of night).

Then just a list of what will happen — I’ve always said I’d watch it if Sorkin had his actors read grocery lists, is he listening and testing me?

Mac: You’ve just been served by a kid in a rented tuxedo

Does it really matter who serves you a subpoena? I don’t think so.

Mac: Or maybe they sent out a press release

That’s crazy that they got the PR note out that quickly, they never come that quickly.

Jim Harper: It was posted on Carnivore.

They seem to be saying they got the scoop but if the press release is out how did anyone really get it first? And if Carnivore really had it first did they just not get an alert?

Mimi Tassler: Will, I’m Mimi Tassler with BuzzFeed.
Will MacAvoy: Nice to meet you.
Mimi: Any comment on the story in Carnivore?
Will: I was wrong about the Correspondents’ Dinner. I forgot what a great time I always have.
Zachary Webber: Will, I’m Zachary Webber with Politico. Do you want to comment on the story?
Will: Sure. I probably need to read it first.

This, sadly, isn’t unrealistic. You need to ask for comment and you need to do it quickly — it isn’t ideal.

Will: You don’t think he’s going to buy the network?
Charlie Skinner: No, I think he is.

Maggie’s boy toy: Why do they have names like that? Carnivore, Vulture, Beast, Gawker.

This seems like Sorkin talking. Although Gawker is pretty different than the other ones on this list.

Boy toy: And why do gossip columnist always sound like gossip columnists?

I don’t even know where to begin. I thought the train scenes were bad but this pool thing is killing my liveblog mojo.

Boy toy: She has a friend who’s dating a woman who just started writing for a website called Carnivore.
Maggie: We should go
Boy toy: I just want to hear what they think. Maggie’s friend thinks that websites like this are toxic and are poisoning our national conversation and culture, but he likes the girl. So my question is, would he date a drug dealer?
Hallie Shea: How would you like to handle this?
Boy toy: Wait. She works for Carnivore.
Maggie: Of course she works for Carnivore.

Ah, got it. It was all in service of this punch line. Sort of funny but the same punchline we got last episode and a lot of setup for this dude.

Hallie: Drug dealer?
Jim: He said that. I didn’t say that.
Hallie: You’re talking about this with Maggie?
Jim: It came up at work.
Hallie: What came up?
Jim: It just — your new job.

I’m confused about the current state of the Maggie-Jim relationship. Are they friends? In which case it would be pretty obvious that it came up (probably would anyway since they both worked with Hallie). Are they purely co-workers? If so, why did they talk so much earlier?

Jim: How did Carnivore get that story about Will?
Hallie: Did you see my byline on it?
Jim: No
Hallie: No. 2,000 reporters and he thought he was going to get away with it?
Jim: He didn’t knock over a bank.
Hallie: He sang an aria about how messed up the Correspondents’ Dinner was, said ACN wasn’t going and then showed up.

Jim is turning more and more into a jerk. I’ve been thinking about how he was probably the most likable character early and just devolved throughout the series. Sad.

Hallie: It wasn’t going to be a secret.
Jim: You had nothing to do with it?
Hallie: I told them what to look for.
Jim: Yeah.
Hallie: If I hadn’t, I would be betraying my job, and you know that. You know that. It’s horrible that I got it from you but —

My earlier point still stands. But Hallie didn’t have to write about this, it wouldn’t be betraying her job. I doubt that story would really drive THAT many people because it’s just a media story — I’m not even sure why/if BuzzFeed would care (Politico is another matter).

Don Keefer: Listen, the new HR guy at AWM, Wyatt Earp–
Sloan Sabith: Not his name
Don: Wyatt Geary. He’s onto us, me and Sloan, and he wants me bad. He’s gonna come asking questions, and when he does, you say–
Jim: Don and Sloan are just colleagues.

When did Jim and Don become buddies? It’s an interesting development but I’m a bit surprised that it happened.

Lucas Pruit: Books are like the new art, don’t you think?
Charlie: Yes. No. I have no idea what you mean.
Lucas: We don’t need them anymore, but they look nice.
Charlie: We don’t need books?
Lucas: Not on paper. I’ll send you a Kindle, Grandpa Joe. You’ll like it.

I like Lucas! He’s also right, books convey a classiness and intelligence in a similar way to art.

Lucas: If you say you’re not gonna come to a party and you say it loud to a million people, you can’t show up to the party.

He’s right.

Charlie: He came to talk to you because you said you wanted to meet him at the party. Why did you want to meet him at the party? Are you fucking kidding me?
Will: Take it easy.
Charlie: I won’t take it easy. The position you put him in, all of us, for a laugh?
Lucas: It was not for a laugh. Don’t be a child. It was an exercise of power. You shoved the Lansings around for years and I wanted to let you know right off the bat that I’m not impressed by ratings. Second, I want you to know that I’m not in this for the trophy. I’m in it for the ratings. I’m just kidding. But really, second place does nothing for me.
Charlie: Good, ’cause as of last week, we’re in fourth.
Lucas: I don’t know how you managed to swing that.
Charlie: I was very proud of our Boston coverage.
Lucas: Proud is generally what people pretend they are when they’ve lost.
Charlie: Cryptic is generally what people are when they’re trying to pretend they possess supernatural powers.

Supernatural powers? It’s called money and it’s not supernatural. I like that we finally have a real showdown with Charlie that he can’t just make a power play.

Lucas: What if I told you you could be the number one news network and change the world at the same time?
Charlie: Change it into what?
Lucas: A place where people say snappy, sardonic things like that.

I think Lucas is the right person for this job, although I really don’t have any other options.

Lucas: I’m gonna infuse ACN with tens of millions in your budget. How does that sound? I’m gonna get 18-to-25-year-olds to watch the news so it can support itself and so it doesn’t die when you do. The news gathering and newscasts will have tentacles in every reach of the Internet. Interactives, podcasts, live streams, Tublr, Facebook, Twitter. We’ll make our audience reporters in the field through Instagram and Vine, Snapchat and blogs. You still with me?

Not an awful idea if you can filter them properly. Also, Snapchat? That would be awful for something like this.

Charlie: Needless to say, I’m impressed by your indifference to talent, experience and credentials. And I assume the absence of the words truth, trust and professionalism in your mission statement was an oversight. Your contempt for the second-rate seems to be a contradiction, too, since you believe the best reporting is done by anyone with a phone and the time it takes to write “epic fail.” And as an old guy, I’ve got a lot more respect for 18-to-25-year-olds than you do ’cause I don’t believe their heads will explode if you stop patronizing them for an hour a night and tell them what the fuck’s going on in their lives and maybe even in the lives of other people.

Whew, lots of words. But that isn’t working. What young people are watching News Night, what? It’s not a real show? Sorry, went into the vortex for a second — I’m back.

Lucas: The air up on that pedestal must be pretty thin, ’cause you are delusional, sir.
Charlie: If I am, I plan on staying that way. And my network’s staying, too. We’ve got a problem now, you and me. Have a good evening.

Charlie’s attitude is a big reason why old media is getting crushed. I’m happy that Lucas is here as a foil to the rainbows and unicorns the other characters are spreading.

Wyatt Geary: I just wanted to ask in person why you haven’t accepted my friend request on Instagram.

Well, that was a surprise. Glad the question is out there.

Sloan: Nice try, but my mama didn’t raise a fool unless you count my brothers.

This is just a great line, I think I’m going to steal it.

Don: The writer of the story, we think he’s still on the ground.
Jim: Don and I are each talking to a different source at State. When I asked my source if the writer was out, he said, “I don’t know. Is he?”
Mac: They’re trying to slow down the story.
Don: Then my guy said, “No, the writer is not out.”
Mac: Do you believe him?
Don: 50-50. But when our story comes out that this guy worked with the US, they’re gonna slit the throats of his children right in front of him and then drag them down Main Street, so I don’t want to pick the wrong 50.

We get another ethical dilemma, although I’m getting tired of these. I’m glad it isn’t cut and dry but I don’t need a journalism ethics course.

Hallie: My editor wants me to write more personally.
Jim: Like an op-ed?
Hallie: Yeah.
Jim: What’s wrong with op-eds?
Hallie: Nothing.
Jim: What are you writing about?
Hallie: I pitched a few, but the only one they liked was my experience with the Plan B pill.

This is why working at home is a bad idea. Also if Hallie pitched it and is comfortable with it (and isn’t talking about Jim) I’m not sure why it should be a major issue for him.

Jim: Does your piece being, “Dear Penthouse, I’ve never written a letter like this before”?
Hallie: Motherfucker!

C’mon! Writing an opinion piece about Plan B using the first person isn’t like a Penthouse letter.

Wait! Neal is a SENIOR EDITOR OF ACN DIGITAL! Who is giving around these titles? The same folks as the Players Tribune (sorry, inside journalism joke).

Don: I trust strangers less than I trust me.

So those pretty much everyone I know.

Don: The youngest of his three kids doesn’t have a passport.
Mac: State’s got 30 hours to get him one.
Don: We are talking to mid-level people and the U.S. Department of State isn’t hopping to it when we give them instructions. You have to tell me why we have to air the story tomorrow night and not a week from tomorrow night.
Mac: All right, I’m gonna be out for about four hours.
Don: Once we run the story, we’ve shot the hostage. Will has no more leverage.
Mac: If we don’t run the story, why don’t we all just go home?

Isn’t Don’s argument just to take the time needed to set everything in order before a deadline that he thinks is arbitrary? It’s pretty reasonable.

Charlie: She plainly doesn’t like sushi. Why set a meeting at a restaurant where they only serve sushi?
Sloan: Boss, you may be overthinking that.
Charlie: That’s hardly ever the problem

True, I think (and am hoping a little bit) that they just got played.

Also, I’m a little confused as to why Neal’s source even bothered with Mac. I’m sure she cares about the journalist and not the news agency.

Maggie: Why are hot women in movies always great at pool?

I have wondered this also! How come everyone in movies that they show playing pool is so good? I’ve been at pool halls and the majority of players aren’t very good, yes they have some regulars but most people aren’t there every day.

“Old Media Guy and New Media Girl: An Analog Romance”

That’s got to end the relationship. Jim’s got to end it — she wrote about their relationship without telling him? Even if she doesn’t use his name — people know they are together.

“My boyfriend loves me, but he doesn’t like me. He definitely doesn’t follow me. He disapproves of me”

Come on, have to change the second sentence: if follow is a play on Twitter then it’s lame, if it’s not then it just doesn’t play well with the headline.

Boy toy: Maybe he just disapproves of using the word “me” four times in the lede.

BT makes a good point.

Maggie: How would you have written it instead?
BT: I’m not a professional writer, but I’d maybe tweaked the opening so it read, “I am not making my private life and the private lives of others available for entertainment so I can get comments like, ‘You stay strong, Hallie. He doesn’t deserve you.'”

Good edits, but if she wants to go that way I’d go with a lede that’s a specific example: a time when Jim I mean Tim made a snarky content, a snapshot in the life or you could risk overkilling the headline (which she may or may not have written) with a metaphor. Either of those ways would have made for a better lede.

Hallie: I told you my editor wanted me to write more personally.
Jim: There are classified documents in this room. You can’t be in here.

When you do something like this you forfeit any moral high ground, with that column Hallie is now in the wrong. Sad, she was doing good and it doesn’t give Jim points.

Hallie: It was an invasion of privacy, I’m really sorry for that. I was mad. We had just had the last fight and I went into the other room and wrote it.

Writing it isn’t the real problem, publishing it is.

Jim: I don’t care about the invasion of privacy. I wish I did. I’ve been here for hours trying to make myself mad because it was an invasion of privacy. And the crowd would be on my side. That’s a no-brainer.
Hallie: You don’t like me very much.
Jim: And I wish I didn’t like you so much. Took five fucking days, Hallie, for you to give yourself your own reality show.
Hallie: I understand your wanting to insult me right now, but that’s not what I did. Writing about the media, writing about the New York elite, tellign personal stories that resonate with readers doesn’t take one cent away from covering Syria and Afghanistan and Washington. There are foreign correspondents, sports correspondents, fashion correspondents.

She’s right, but this is all just leading up for Jim to hit the KO blow.

Jim: And an unbearable correspondent. Jealous of the New York elites? I’ve got you covered. A movie star was at an environmental fundraiser and they rode on a private jet? Here’s your phony outrage. Feeling a little like you didn’t make the cut? I hereby declare that amateurs are awesome and professionals are so 20 years ago. Only instead of professionals, I’m gonna say old media, and instead of Jim, I’m gonna say Tim because I’m Hallie Shea, Senior Fuck You Correspondent and I’ve decided to become a star.

He’s mostly right but “old media” and “professional” shouldn’t be synonyms — digital people can, and are, professionals.

Hallie: Are you drunk?
Jim: Did you out yourself about the Boston tweet to make sure no one suspected anyone else or did you do it to let our enemies know you were available?
Hallie: Do you hear the way you’re talking right now?

Trust is gone and the relationship is on the ropes.

Hallie: Your problem isn’t with me and it isn’t with the site. It’s with the audience. You don’t like that they like what they like because you need them to like you and that’s no different–

Put pretty well, Halie is making the right points.

Jim: I don’t give a shit about me or liking me or following me or friending me or trending. It’s just ugly.

Mostly because Jim doesn’t understand it.

Hallie: I think you’re threatened by technology.
Jim: I beam a signal into outer space every night. I’m not scared of your Samsung Galaxy. What else you got?
Hallie: I want to be part of the digital revolution. I want to be part of–
Jim: Oh, my God! I am not talking about the apparatus.

Except you are! You were just talking about Twitter and Facebook.

Jim: Just tell me you know I’m right. Please. Please. At least tell me that. Tell me when you knock away the digital revolution bullshit — “We are not beholden to corporate masters.” Yeah, or any standard of good taste. Tell me, please, that you know all you did was have a fight with your boyfriend and litigate it in public. Because I have spent time with hardcore drug movers and they don’t pretend they’re selling medicine.

Good point, don’t fake it. But these guys show such a misunderstanding and hatred of the Internet that I think they lump everything in together (which can also be done with cable news — and probably more correctly with them).

Jim: Yeah, I’m drunk.

Just a public service announcement: People aren’t drunk very often in newsrooms — it may have been common awhile ago but generally companies like to keep the booze away from the publishing stuff.

Jim: I’m gonna miss you.
Hallie: You’re gonna miss a lot of things, Jim.

That’s got to be the last we see of Hallie, she ran her course (probably more than she should).

Mac: We’re running the story tonight.
Reese: You can’t. I’m sorry, you can’t run it at all.
Mac: Why?
Reese: Pruit. He signs a deal at the end of the day and he won’t if we run the story.
Mac: Because of Will? He says he doesn’t think there’s a chance Cedarman’s gonna send him.
Reese: It’s not because of Will. He likes that Will’s going to jail. He wants him to broadcast from there.
Mac: I’m certain they won’t allow that.
Reese: I’m certain they won’t, too.
Mac: What’s the problem, Reese?
Reese: The fines. His lawyers had to be told about the story and they’ve advised him that if the story was gathered illegally, the Justice Department can and probably will impose crippling criminal fines.
Mac: This is horseshit.
Reese: I know.
Mac: The source risked everything. Neal’s hiding in South America. Will’s facing a grand jury. Bartho and his family fled the country. And it was for nothing?
Reese: Mac
Mac: It was for nothing?
Reese: Yeah. Selling the company is the only way you get to live to fight another day.
Mac: Do we ever get to win one?

When have they had a problem like this that they lost? The never faced real problems from an owner.

I do hope this is the end of this, I find it oddly satisfying and I don’t know why.

I like the way the HR guy went.

Sloan: Antoinette Dodd’s gonna buy ACN

Of course she isn’t.

Lucas: Dude, I told you in college that one day I was gonna buy a company out from under you. I gave you, like, 15 years warning.

In a like-ability index I would have to rank Lucas pretty highly.

Lucas: What Sloan’s telling Charlie is that people are buying Halifax at the current stock price with an expiration on the assumption that Toni’s about to announce she’s buying it. It was leverage, Charlie. She wanted people to think she was looking at ACN. That’s why she had you guys eat at that sushi place. She knew there was a Halifax board member there. You’re gonna love me, Charlie.
Charlie: No, I’m not.
Lucas: Yeah, you are. I’m gonna take you into the 21st century right after I drag you through the 19th and 20th.

Lucas is the right buyer, he’s also the smartest person in the boardroom.

Charlie: We’re sworn enemies now, he and I.

Why has nobody discussed the possibility that Lucas could fire people and bring in new staff?

And of course Will was going to be held in contempt, that wasn’t a surprise.

Ave Maria! Great choice of music. Say what you will criticizing Sorkin but his music is awesome.



Newsroom: Season 3, Episode 3: Main Justice

•November 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Apologies for the delay, wasn’t in the position to blog and will do my best to keep it from happening again.

Gary Cooper: ‘Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock would land on them. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking but now God knows, Anything goes. Good authors, too, who once knew better words. Now only use four-letter words writing — What the fuck is going on?

This is probably my favorite opening of any Aaron Sorkin episode ever. Seriously, I just spent time trying to think about every West Wing, Sports Night and Studio 60 episode and came up blank.

Cole Porter and Sorkin are two of the most brilliant writers ever and among my personal favorites. The ending of fuck just when Gary was singing about how good authors once had the vocabulary to not curse is great. I can’t say it was unexpected but that didn’t diminish the greatness.

Gary: Is this for real?
Agent Rodger: What’s your name?
Gary: My name?
Agent: Yeah.
Gary: It’s spelled arrest me or go fuck yourself. We’ve been raided.
Agent: It’s Saturday night and you got the graveyard shift. What would I find if I stop and frisk you, Snoop Dogg?
Gary: Unless that warrant says you can stick your hand in my pockets, you’re gonna find yourself in a conversation about illegal search and seizure.

The fact that I have to mention Cole Porter and Snoop Dogg in this close proximity is a problem. I was going to do a comparison of the lyrics but I just can’t — nope. I will embed two of Mr. Dogg’s songs and then two of Mr. Porter’s and you can try to tell the difference (warning: Snoop isn’t safe for work).

Got it? Good, let’s get back to the show.

Jim Harper: My password’s N-Y–
Secret Agent Woman: I don’t need your password.
Jim: That’s a comfort.

Why would you say that? Even if it’s just to make them think you’re working together let them give you the password.

Molly Levy: And we are the physical manifestation of the will of that court.
MacKenzie McHale: The fuck are you, Marley’s ghost?

I’m going to assume she’s referring to the play and not the 1980s band. The Dickensian stuff works so much better.

Molly: You kiss your sources with that mouth?

Slight issue if she’s kissing that many of her sources, but I digress.

Don Keefer: I’d like to make sure my phones aren’t being tapped.
Will MacAvoy: They don’t have permission to tap our phones.
Don: Then I guess this would be the first time the FBI has used a warrantless wiretap.

How exactly would Don try to stop them or really know what they are doing? These guys don’t know anything about technology, remember?

Jim: Do you have the first idea how any of this equipment works?
Don: I don’t know how electricity works. Just start pressing buttons.

It’s more meta! This is SO Sorkin making an analogy to himself (I think he even said it in the HBO post-show clip) he can write the show but has no idea how the details work. As long as it’s self aware, I think this is pretty cool.

Jim: What is on our air?
Don: Red Carpet Roundup. We need a studio feed.
Jim: Can I just say that this network’s Saturday night programming is–
Don: Maybe now’s not the time. But I do agree.

Complaining about Saturday night news programming is pretty stupid, if you put a good news show on at that hour those guys would complain that you’re burying it.

Jim: There’s a typo. You left out the R.
Maggie Jordan: Where?
Jim: It says “beaking news.”

I think people would be surprised with how often that happens and what percentage of the time it’s caught (pretty high).

Jim: It says “baking news” now.
Maggie: Fuck!

I think all these newsrooms should have buttons that you press and it spells breaking news correctly (I’m pretty sure some of them do but these guys would need Neal to get away from the website to get it done).

Don: Freedom won and not a bullet was fired.
Jim: Let this day be recorded in the all…
Maggie: Your fly is unzipped.
Jim: I’m not sure how I feel about new confident Maggie.
Don: She’s looking good.
Sloan: I can still hear you.
Don: Do you think there’s any chance she’s…
Sloan: I’m not pretending.

I thought this was great, funny while showing character growth (especially from Maggie). And I’ve watched it five times and laughed every time.

Will: Doesn’t it take at least a week to vet 27,000 documents?
Molly: If you put the same scrupulous attention into vetting this story as you did with Genoa, you should be done in no time.
Mac: You are sitting at the loser table.
Molly: At your wedding, what else is available?

Mac: You’re getting the fish and the fish is gonna suck!
Molly: You’re talking about your own wedding.

Points like this are where I think that Sorkin was just hitting his stride. The more I think about it the sadder I am that this show is going to go. Having him writing for TV at all (even in an imperfect form) is so much better than having to wait for a movie.

Charlie Skinner: All right, obviously we’ll talk more before then. But for now just go drink… Home. Just go home.

I love Charlie. He really means drink, wherever it is that you do that (for him it would be everywhere).

Rebecca Halliday: That stunt with the cameras, that wasn’t cool.
Charlie: Neither am I.

I think this was another meta thing, Sorkin is telling us he doesn’t care that he isn’t doing the cool thing — now I’m wishing this season was 13 episodes!

Will: They’re not gonna lock me up. I’m too big to jail.

It’ll be interesting to look at this in comparison to the infamous “too big to fail” quote. It would be too much of a coincidence to not look at that — I’m really hoping it’s something of an Easter Egg for those obsessive enough to transcribe (or read the transcriptions) although I doubt it.

Will: Why do we have a loser table?
Mac: Your friends.
Will: All right.

I thought he didn’t have friends! Still, a nice recall of the joke.

Jim: The Mets need speed. The Mets need power. The Mets need pitching. That’s what I’m thinking about right now.

Mets don’t need pitching or speed, JIM! I love that you like baseball but they need money, they need to move the fences in and they need competent management. Although that may be more than you can ask for. On April 22, 2013 the Mets were 9-8 (above .500) and in second place in the NL East, had great minor league pitching prospects and had some form of slim hope. Yes, I really did just look that up (that’s the kind of detail you get when I delay this blog for almost a week).

Jim: I would take any one of the three… Speed, power, or pitching.

If he stayed a Mets fan he did get one, pitching. And in the 2015 season he may get it the majority of the time (the future staff is looking promosing).

Maggie: Mac’s put it in the B block. When I asked her what story she felt was going to trump the end of the world, she said, “I don’t know, but I’m sure something will come up.”
Jim: So you want this to feel more like a Jim Harper segment and less like a Maggie Jordan segment?

This is a great exchange. This is what the Maggie-Jim relationship should have been like in episode three, not season three.

Maggie: There’s nothing unimportant in there.
Jim: Then what was the point of highlighting it?
Maggie: To amplify its importance.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when people highlight everything. If you signal everything is important than nothing is really important or stand out. I do like the famous Jim Collins quote: “If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.” Same goes with highlighting.

Reese Lansing: I had a perfectly good idea.
Leona Lansing: No, you didn’t.
Charlie: What was it?
Reese: Poison them. Poison my half-brother and sister. Just go Shakespeare on their ass.

This has to appeal to Charlie. I also like that we got Shakespeare into this episode.

Charlie: Owning a news network’s cooler than owning a location detection software company.

I’m not sure that’s true and I especially don’t think that’s true in the silicon valley atmosphere that the buyer Lucas Pruit is supposed to be in. I could see a great newspaper (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and maybe some others) carrying weight but that’s mainly in NYC or Washington DC dinner parties.

Will: Would you coven of knee-jerk, lefty bigots not condemn the man until after he’s said hello? I know he’s committed the unpardonable crime of making a lot of money, but perhaps in spite of his talent, hard work, and enormous accomplishments, he’s still a decent guy.
Charlie: Yeah, whose ideas are worth listening to.
Will: Yeah. Wait, what? He has ideas?

Why is that a surprise? It seems that the show has been a failure on all levels: financially (no money, no ratings), journalistically (Genoa) and socially (they can’t find a way to present the end of the world). Things have to change.

Will: We’re not going to the Correspondents’ Dinner.
Charlie: We are now.
Will: I can’t.
Charlie: The Justice Department is Friday night and the Correspondents’ Dinner is Saturday.
Mac: We can’t go because last year he railed against the Correspondents’ Dinner and said we’d no longer be going.
Charlie: Where?
Will: To the Correspondents’ Dinner.
Charlie: Where did you rail against it?
Will: On TV.
Charlie: What network?
Will: This one. My show.
Charlie: I think I remember now.
Mac: “ACN won’t be attending the Saturnalia of incestuous ingratiation”…
Charlie: Oh, brother.
Mac: “that does little to instill confidence in the public that the press isn’t ensorcelled by the powerful.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Charlie doesn’t watch every episode. This is also a problem when you make huge declarative statements that are always on the record. What do you have to gain from going against the Correspondents’ Dinner? It’s such a small thing that very few people even care about and is absolutely not information people need in the voters booth.

Charlie: Yeah, you got to eat it. Hope nobody remembers your on-air bacchanal of boisterous buffoonery

Just some showing off going on here, but that’s good — I think it works here.

Jim: This is the part I keep tripping on.
Hallie Shea: What’s that?
Jim: I’m still looking at your contract.
Hallie: 45K. 45 large, my young friend. 45 Grover Clevelands.
Jim: Grover Cleveland’s on the $1,000 bill?
Hallie: Back when we printed them. They’re not in circulation anymore, but imagine 45 of them.

Discontinued in 1969! Well before these guys were born. They are now worth more than $1,000 due to rarity and because everyone loves Grover Cleveland — OK, probably more the first reason.

Jim: The incentives.
Hallie: James, they’re not incentives, they’re bonuses.
Jim: For page views.
Hallie: Yeah.
Jim: The more page views you get, the more money you’re paid.
Hallie: Welcome to capitalism. We’re happy to have you.

Yes, this shouldn’t be shocking. I’m sure she also has bonuses for people thinking she did good work and they specify what type of stuff they want her to do, but this isn’t a non-profit.

Jim: If you’re writing about a cabinet secretary who testified in front of the House Oversight Committee, are you more likely to write about the content of the testimony or “Cabinet Secretary Blasts Darrell Issa”?

You can write both, and is it better to provide a little bit of information to a lot of people or a lot of info to only the ones who care enough to look for it (and probably have most of the information)? I’d lean toward the former.

Hallie: Will is paid millions of dollars a year and Murrow was paid the equivalent of millions of dollars a year for the same reason anyone in the private sector is paid anything… Their ability to make money for other people.
Jim: Will doesn’t get paid per view or per story.
Hallie: That’s either heart-stopping naiveté or denial.

I’m agreeing with Hallie more and more. Will’s contract doesn’t say anything about ratings or give bonuses for certain viewership? Possible, but I think unlikely.

Jim: If those reporters were being paid per person reading their story, the front page of the Times would look a lot different.
Hallie: And because it doesn’t look a lot different, there are a lot fewer people reading their stories.
Jim: Who, Hallie, gives a genuine shit how many people are reading a story if the story is hyped?

Jim seems to think the media tells people what to care about, I think it’s largely the opposite and media organizations have to be responsive to the public’s views — this means looking at traffic and ratings data.

Don: Gary Cooper, Alex Thacker, this is Wyatt Geary and he is the new VP of Human Resources for AWM.

This seems like Sorkin listening to critics, that’s probably a good thing — dropping a HR guy could be really good but I’m worried we don’t have the time.

Alex Thacker: You asked for 20 seconds of copy for Elliot on Justin Bieber visiting Anne Frank’s house.
Don: Why, you know, in the world would I do that?
Gary: Because Bieber signed the guestbook on his way out and wrote “Hopefully she would have been a Belieber.” And then you and Elliot got drunk and you told him you’d give him $100 if he could read the story off the prompter without laughing.
Don: Once again, this is the new HR rep for our parent company.
Alex: The copy should have been assigned to me, but Gary assigned it to Stacey.
Don: Once I give it to Gary, Gary gets to make that call.
Alex: Based on merit, not based on who he prefers to sleep with at any particular moment.
Gary: I’m not sleeping and I’ve never slept with Stacey.
Alex: That may or may not be, but probably is a lie. What we know for sure is Gary flirted with me, hit on me, took me out five times, slept with me twice, and then dumped me in a pile with the rest of the staffers he’s used for his pleasure.
Don: I can’t emphasize this enough… This is the new HR rep.

Why we need a HR rep. Great bit by Don. Also do people really remember how many times they go out with someone? I understand the first couple, and maybe even five, but at some point I just stop counting (like after three).

Alex: What I am not fine with is being passed over for an assignment at work because I exercised poor judgment in my personal life.
Gary: I gave it to her because she’s better at this kind of thing.
Alex: What kind of thing?
Gary: The intersection of pop culture and the Holocaust.

Don: I told Gary to give it to Stacey, all right? He is covering for me. I told him to give it to her because she is a better writer than you are.
Alex: Well, what am I supposed to do?
Don: Write better.

It’s absolutely true that different levels of writer are around the newsroom and sometimes you have people who just can’t write pop culture or hard news or seemingly do anything but you can’t phrase it like this. This was a very funny bit but “write better” is never good advice — I know that seems obvious but I’ve heard those very words being the only feedback given to young writers.

Wyatt: Fraternization between superiors and subordinates exposes the company to all kinds of problems, including the one you just saw.
Don: And we don’t tolerate it.

LOL! This tangled web of relationships is the only thing tolerated.

Wyatt: So if you and Sloan Sabbith were in a relationship, there’s a chance we’d have to move one of you to a different bureau. DC or LA.

I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve ever heard of a news organization moving someone to a completely different bureau just due to a relationship. Don can rest slightly easier.

Jim: Why do we have to write Will questions like it’s a sex test in Sex, you know, Magazine or something?

Apparently Sex Magazine is a real thing that exists. The more you know.

Jim: Did you know there are online news outlets that offer bonuses to their reporters for page views?
Maggie: Yes.
Jim: I didn’t know that.
Maggie: That’s because you live in the time of King Arthur along with Don, Will, and Charlie.

Maggie has gone from the dumbest person in every room she walks into to become the voice of reason and I seem to have missed the transition. She seems to be the only character to undergo any real sort of change in the season and we’re rushing it. I’m happy that it’s happening but it’s a little strange.

Jim: Leave it to you to find the only person in the world who can make money being ethical.

This line confused me a bit. Why would Maggie be that person? I wouldn’t say Don would fit that label, especially not old Don.

Will: Just so we know what we’re talking about, if you were a doctor and we were the patient, what’s your prognosis? 1,000 years? 2,000 years?
Richard Westbrook: A person has already been born who will die due to catastrophic failure of the planet.

Don’t ask questions you don’t know the answers to! Think saying “stay safe” to a reporter in Boston was bad? This is going to be a million times worse.

Will: You’re saying
the situation’s dire?
Richard: Not exactly. Your house is burning to the ground, the situation’s dire. Your house has already burned to the ground, the situation’s over.
Will: So what can we do
to reverse this?
Richard: There’s a lot we could do.
Will: Good.
Richard: If it were 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. But now… No.
Will: Can you make an analogy that might help us understand?
Sure. It’s as if you’re sitting in your car in your garage with the engine running and the door closed and you’ve slipped into unconsciousness.
Will: And that…
Richard: That’s it.
Will: What if someone comes and opens the door?
Richard: You’re already dead.
Will: What if the person got there in time?
Richard: You’d be saved.
Will: OK. So now what’s the CO2 equivalent of the getting there on time?
Richard: Shutting off the car 20 years ago.
Will: You sound like you’re saying it’s hopeless.
Richard: Yeah.

I’m not sure why, but I think this is so much better reading it than having it rapid fire on TV, although both are pretty good. I’m just leaving this here so that anyone can stumble upon it later (including myself).

Richard: Well, that’s the thing, Will. Americans are optimistic by nature. And if we face this problem head on, if we listen to our best scientists, and act decisively and passionately, I still don’t see any way we can survive.

This is such the opposite of what I think of when I think of Sorkin shows — the stirring speech, the optimism, the love story — but this is really just the other side of the coin. I think this character works when not in the stupid train scene.

Barry Lasenthal: I’ll see that your concerns make it straight to the children of undercover agents who’ve been killed when their identities were made known.
Mac: You’re bringing out your queen a little early, aren’t you?

This isn’t a chess match, you don’t have the same pieces and you don’t take turns.

Barry: But I wasn’t recruited by Nebraska, so I played fullback at A&M. And we lost to Nebraska all four years I was there.

I actually looked it up and I can’t find four straight years that Nebraska and Texas A&M played. The Cornhuskers are 10-4 against the Aggies. Also I would be surprised that Nebraska would be that much of a better football school than A&M, they were probably in the same conference back then.

Will: You come in here like Brian Dennehy. You’re at the other end of the table ’cause it’s some Jedi mind shit you were taught at a three-day seminar in Hilton Head. I was the one most apt to cooperate. The agents must have reported that to you. That’s the signal I was sending you. But you insulted our lawyer and you insulted my producer who happens to be my fiancée, which you also know. And you insulted Charlie Skinner, which your people would have told you wasn’t gonna make any of us happy. And you threatened to bankrupt us and to have the same PR operation that got 38 people killed turn Neal into a radical. Yeah, I moved the pieces so they’d end up looking like this. Except Neal’s supposed to be in a Super 8 in Bayonne, New Jersey, and not South America. And I did it because, while I have no doubt that you’d shake Neal up and down until he gave you the source, which would never happen, your jaw-dropping government overreach simply won’t extend to putting a TV star in jail for contempt. You bungled this and I can’t help you anymore.

I have to think this is the longest monologue of Will’s this season. He found his voice.

Sloan: Have you Googled my romantic history? I date guys called Mr. Chairman. I date first round draft picks, high second round if it’s a skill position. You think I’m dating the EP of a 10:00 PM newscast that barely outrates a rerun of Just Shoot Me?
Wyatt: I absolutely do. And I’m gonna nail you.

One of the things missing in the first two seasons was that the characters didn’t have worthy adversaries and seemed so stupid. For the moment, it’s actually seeming like Wyatt knows what he’s doing.

Charlie: What are you drinking?
Lucas Pruit: Unflavored Absolut Vodka with a capful of Schweppes Bitter Lemon poured over ice in a rocks glass.
Pruit’s assistant: They don’t have Schweppes Bitter Lemon.
Lucas: It eludes me why that should ever be the case, you know?

I really think the most fun part of Schwepps Bitter Lemon is saying “schweppes.” Glad it made it in here from West Wing.

Lucas: If I was a man with no choices, I’d kill myself.
Charlie: Well, I guess that means I have a choice, so…
Lucas: Would you like to talk about my intentions for the network?
Charlie: Yes, sir, I would.

I like the juxtaposition between the optimism of these guys and Mr. Pruit.

Lucas: Let me tell you what I’m about. Disruption. I can see fear in your eyes.
Charlie: There almost always is. What’s an example of disruption as it would apply to a news network?
Lucas: User-generated content. Crowdsourcing the news.
Charlie: I’ll tell you, Lucas, we just had in Boston…
Lucas: Boston was a bad instance of crowdsourcing, but it was still disruption. Why one channel? Why not 500? With no cost for content.
Charlie: No cost for content on the other 499? I’m just trying…
Lucas: I’m not talking about guys with head-cams in Syria. I don’t know. Maybe I am. A disaster channel. A stalker channel. I just did three. Now you.
Charlie: A channel where professionals investigate and report the news.

If he’s willing to bankroll all of those channels then that’s good for Charlie and the gang. You have to believe in your product and that you can out-rate the Danny Glover channel, if you can’t then all hope is lost anyway.

Charlie: I’m looking forward to talking more about this.
Lucas: No, you’re not, but you will anyway.

True, I don’t hate Lucas Pruit.

Eli Shapiro: Mr. McAvoy, this is a subpoena for you to be sworn in before an investigative grand jury at 1 St. Andrew’s Plaza, Monday, April 29 at 10:00 a.m.

Had to see this coming. I’m getting a bit sick of the Neal/source storyline but you had to see the subpoena coming… hopefully they get past this story soon.

Newsroom Season 3, Episode 2: Run

•November 16, 2014 • 2 Comments

I am blogging this during my second viewing so it won’t have a liveblog feel and is hopefully shorter than some of the other entries (I’m hoping I catch some of the new character’s names this time around).

Reese Lansing: I’ll tell you a secret. We could be more profitable. Small places here and there, we could make more money. You know why we don’t? We choose not to.
Blair: It’s a hell of a business plan, Reese

First, I love that Kat Dennings is here. She isn’t what I would think of as a typical Aaron Sorkin actress but that makes me like her even more.

Reese’s point plays to a pitiful point. If you advisories don’t buy that then your argument holds no water and if they do then you don’t need to retell them.

Blair: How did you find out?
Reese: We didn’t find out. We figured it out. That’s an important distinction. We could have found out by you telling us, but Sloan Sabbith figured it out when instead of going down off a weak earnings report, our stock traded up because someone was buying five percent of our shares.
Blair: Six percent.

I don’t think find vs. figured out is an important distinction. It’s a really big deal that he didn’t know it was six percent.

Randy: King Arthur’s knights could have jousted on this table.

I like Randy. It really is a crazy table and why should he care/respond to Reese? The table is more interesting.

Blair: Reese–
Reese: Yeah?
Blair: You’re a douche
Reese: Yes, I am. But I’m a douche on the side of the angels.

Yikes, the phrase “on the side of the angels” shouldn’t be said in any boardroom scene. Setting aside the cliche, why does he think the twins will care?

Rebecca Halliday: I would love it if you guys would stop committing federal crimes.

I could make a billable hours joke but will try to avoid it.

Rebecca: Because this is different than prosecuting an escort service in Greenpoint.
Will McAvoy: I put away bad guys, Halliday. I locked up Mafia dons.
Rebecca: And now when you go to work, you put on makeup just like me.

I guess this was supposed to be a dig about Will not being manly, but that seems strange to bounce off of “just like me.”

Reese: When they were just your age, my mother’s parents saw a production of “You Can’t Take It With You” on Broadway. They thought it was a shame that you had to live near New York or be able to afford to come here on vacation to see a production that good. So they went to investors and they put together $42,350 and mounted a touring company. National Theatricals became very successful.

“You Can’t Take It With You” won the 1937 Pulitzer prize for drama. I don’t know the history of touring companies off hand, but suspect that they were around in Europe well before the ’30s. Anyway, apparently the National Theatricals proved that you really could take it with you (couldn’t help myself).

Reese: And my mother worked in the office while she was going to City College. She discovered a small string of radio stations that were going out of business, and using National as collateral, she got a loan and bought the company that owned them, which was named after a mythical city, Atlantis Media.

This is an interesting story, although just the buying bit seems more to the twins’ side than Reese’s.

Blair: And then she had a son who bore a striking resemblance to the father’s brother.
Reese: If we’re gonna start at 212 degrees, we’ve got no place to go.

Of course you do! 213. The water may be boiling but you could be cooking something even hotter.

Reese: I own no stock in AWM.
Blair: In your mother’s will.

It doesn’t really matter what is in Leona’s will until she, ya know, dies.

Reese: Lives are on the line.
Blair: Do me a favor and talk to me with a little more condescension.

That’s possible, but I’m not sure he can do much more exaggeration. AWN isn’t bombing people and sending them to war (at least I hope not), they’re talking business and jobs.

Charlie Skinner: I wasn’t in the delivery room, because, ya know, boundaries.

I’ll add parenthetically for Charlie: and I didn’t want to be.

Blair: But from what I understand, you can make more money selling cameras than transmitting images from them.

Cable isn’t that bad of an industry to be in. A news division and a news channel isn’t the best profitability ever but it can make money. People pay for their standard cable service which includes CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and presumable ACN — this model may be sustainable but you can recoup some cash.

Will: Tell her about Kundu

I still can’t believe former President Bartlett and the gang didn’t finish up Kundu for good in the West Wing! At some point I should go through all the episodes on it and right a history of it.

Rebecca: I know these guys get legal training. How does this happen? Isn’t this the very first thing they’re taught not to do?

No, plenty of other more common problems are up — you may get this lecture eventually if they get to it. Sourcing, plagiarism, style guides and using the CMS are much more important for you WEB DEVELOPER.

Mac: Look at that. Is that a good enough score to get me in the FBI?
Molly: It’s not a good enough score to get you in the PTA.
Mac: I put two shots right in the torso.
Molly: Unfortunately, the other four hit anyone standing next to the torso.

Mac is supposed to be very capable and smart… I just wish the character lived up to that outside the studio (it would give Sorkin’s feminist critics less ammo).

Mac: Tell me something, why don’t they allow people to go in there alone?
Molly: They don’t want to make it easier to commit suicide.
Mac: So these are the good people with the guns who are going to stop the bad people with the guns?

The argument that making it harder for people to kill themselves (I dislike the term “commit suicide”) makes them a bad person is nuts. I don’t want to go off on an off topic rant but the argument about the good people with guns stopping bad people with guns is flawed on so many levels — why weaken it with any insinuation that depressed people aren’t “good”? I’m sure I’m readying way too much into this but it just caught me when I was transcribing. Now back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Mac: Sources come to us with things they can’t come to you with.
Molly: Yeah, we have sources, too, Mac. We use them to stop violent crimes before they happen. You want to protect your sources, so do we. “Cause when there’s a leak, our sources get executed.

So happy this was included, I’m not sure all members of the media spend enough time thinking about the people on the other side of the fence.

Also, it’s great that Mary McCormack is back in Sorkin shows (she played Kate Harper in the West Wing). She is one of those people that I think of when I think of Sorkin women.

A note: I’m skipping the whole train thing. I can’t do everything and didn’t feel that strongly about the train scene. This blog is getting long and I only have so much time in the day.

Hallie Shea: I fucked up so bad and it’s all gonna come down in the next hour.
Jim Harper: What are you talking about?

Hallie: Last night, this morning around 2:00 a.m., we were wrapping up the Boston coverage and I was heading home and I saw that ACN hadn’t posted a tweet in six and a half hours. Neal usually does that and he likes to post every 30 minutes, but I knew where his head was, so I posted for him when I got home. That was 2:37 this morning. I went to sleep and then woke up and deleted it a half hour later, 3:04.

Start of a bad sign. My opinion: After you work 10-plus hours on anything you shouldn’t be allowed to tweet from the official company account. That “rule” is broken in every newsroom at some point but is really important for avoiding screw-ups.

The Tweet: Boston Marathon: Republicans rejoice that there’s finally a national tragedy that doesn’t involve guns.

A more believable mistake would be if she didn’t think she was posting from that account. Even if she was doing it from her own account (connected with ACN) it wouldn’t be OK, but maybe if she did freelance social media work for another company it would be more possible. This isn’t truly a mistake, it’s a resignation tweet. And for those wondering she still had 37 characters left.

Jim: Is there any chance it won’t be found?
Hallie: No. I came in to get fired.

That’s completely true. Making a mistake on the web can follow you forever. Getting fired has to happen.

Charlie: Aren’t $2.3 billion and $3.1 billion the exact same thing? What’s the difference?
Randy: 800 million
Reese: Yes, good, Randy. But I think what Charlie is saying is what can you buy with 3.1 billion that you can’t buy with 2.3 billion?
Blair: You seem to think our plan is to hit the ATM and go shopping.
Reese: What is your plan?
Blair: My immediate plan is to ask you why the fuck you think we need to tell you our plan.

In less than 20 minutes of airtime, the twins might be group I’m rooting for. One big problem I have with the show is finding characters to really pull for — and I might be wanting the twins to win.

Reese: People like you are the reason people hate people like me.

Just a complete falsity. When you admit that you are a douche you have to own that.

WE’RE BACK. Thanks for joining (or rejoining) us and let’s get back in the groove.

Neal: As I understand it, the criteria for running a story is one, are we confident it’s accurate and two, is it in the public interest. And this passes both tests.

NEAL! You already forgot about the rules for 2.0? Let’s do a refresher and try to answer those questions:

1. Is this information we need in the voting booth? I don’t know how you would use this information in an American voting booth. Are the people who are ordering this able to even be voted out?

2. Is this the best possible form of the argument? Probably not, TV isn’t a very good medium for a story like this without it seeming dull or sensationalized.

3. Is this in historical context? You could put the historical context, this is a firm yes.

4. Are there really two sides to the story? I think so, this is the problematic bit — it’s in passing this step that gets everyone in trouble.

Looking back on it seems pretty crazy that “is it right” wasn’t on these rules.

Will: I have my own personal third criteria, which is will it land any of my guys in jail?
Neal: That’s not–
Will: This passes that test, too.

What’s up with Will? He doesn’t seem to have the normal ability to speak — shouldn’t it be phrased so it fails that test and the story doesn’t run?

Mac: What’s he crushing with a meat tenderizer?
Neal: Truth. Hope. Journalistic integrity.

Isn’t the info also on the air gapped computer? Wouldn’t Neal be smart enough to have the data somewhere else than a flash drive.

Neal: Other people have gone to jail for refusing to give up a source.

True, and other people have not reported a story in order to avoid jail. Also, why is he wearing a tie? Did the company get a new dress code?

Mac: I’ve just come from talking to a friend. She’s been with the FBI 15 years.
Will: Unimpeachable source.
Mac: This is her area and she says the’d never charge him with espionage.
Will: This woman does not know what she’s talking about.
Mac: Yeah, she does. No journalist has ever been charged with espionage. She says it’ll be contempt

You’ve got to at least mention that this was a hypothetical and it might not be her choice.

Neal: 10 days. That’s one day for every three and a half people we killed by knowingly planting a false story in a foreign newspaper.

What, exactly, do those dead people get from you sitting in a jail cell? In actuality, I’m not against running the story but not for the reasons laid out — I just don’t think they are presenting the best argument.

Will: The two lawyers in the room say no.
Neal: The two journalists in the room say yes.
Will: There are three journalists.
Neal: Did I count that wrong?
Will: If you think being an ass is gonna make me less inclined to protect you, think again, mofo. I can out-ass anyone in the Tri-State area.

I’m not sure why I find that line so funny, maybe because I’m picturing Aaron Sorkin pacing and trying to come up with the insult. “Think again, scoundrel — no. THINK AGAIN, bitch — not that either. I’VE GOT IT! MOFO!!”

Will: She’s a recent journalism school graduate. I’m just competing her education. What she’s learning from me can’t be found in books.
Jenna: Yes?
Will: I’d like a Dr. Pepper, please.

Sadly, this is what many internships are like (even high-end ones). She’d be better off as a cub reporter than fetching sodas.

Mac: The possibility that reporters are gonna make bad behavior public is what stops people from behaving badly.

I think that’s very low on the reasons people don’t do bad things — it’s much more likely to be used to make someone do good things or civic-minded things (like voting).

Will: The possibility of jail is supposed to be what makes people stop behaving badly.

I don’t think that’s incredibly effective either.

Mac: Well, it hasn’t ’cause they’re still doing it and they’re going to keep doing it.

The threat of people reporting on it also hasn’t worked. Just pointing that out.

Mac: A PR company killed 38 people. We do nothing, and the 39th is on us.

THIS is the winning argument. Why did she wait this long to surface it… I wish someone had a journalistic expression for this. OH YEAH, burying the lede.

Don: You consider us a couple?
Sloan: I don’t understand that question.
Don: Yeah, you do. ‘Cause this is exactly how I act in the same situation.

Can Sorkin write every “define the relationship” chat I have to overhear? This is vastly more entertaining than any I’ve overheard.

Jim: He looked up, you see? He saw that the pitcher wasn’t covering fist base, which is what the pitcher is supposed to do on a ground ball to first. They’ve known that since Little League. He looked up, and you can see it on the replay. He looks up because he knew the pitcher wasn’t covering the bag and he needed to gauge his position relative to the base. What happens when you take your eye off the ball?
Hallie: God, Jim, what in the name of sweet Christ are you talking about?
Jim: Bill Buckner.

Is it bad to admit that I knew right away what he was talking about?

Hallie: Is this the best time, babe?
Jim: I thought it might be a welcome distraction
Hallie: It’s an unwelcome annoyance
Jim: I knew going in that was a possibility. Buckner needs to be exonerated. You make one mistake and ev–

This is completely true. IT WAS GAME 6, they could have won Game 7. Mookie Wilson was really fast. Why did the Red Sox let the Mets tie the game? So much BS. Jim is as right as he has ever been.

Charlie: CNN represents a small fraction of Time Warner’s revenue. NBC Nightly News a small fraction of Comcast.
Blair: And ACN an even smaller fraction of Atlantis.
Charlie: But they are the face and voice of their parent corporations

No, they aren’t. How many people watching these nightly news shows can tell you the parent company? I bet when people think of Time Warner and Comcast they think of the cable repair guy and news doesn’t even pop into their heads.

Charlie: Reese Lansing, as the president of a news network, all I do every day is fight with him. All I do every day is fight with Leona. And the thing of it is this — I win almost every one of those battles. What network president can say that about their corporate parent? I win almost every one of those battles and the reason is most of the time they let me.

This seems to be hurting Charlie’s point more than helping.

Charlie: They want ACN to do the news well. And we’re not always successful at it, but that’s what we try to do, and they let me win because they just want us to play our role.

But that doesn’t seem to be what the twins want. They don’t have the same devotion to the news that you did — if they did then you wouldn’t need to have this conversation. Preaching to the heathens in much harder than to the choir.

Randy: We want to strike out on our own. Be entrepreneurs. Maybe get into Bitcoin.

One strike against Randy, don’t get into Bitcoin. But being on your own and doing your own thing is great.

Charlie: This is so fucked up, I don’t even know where to begin.
Jim: Yeah
Charlie: Jesus Christ!

This conversation is so realistic that I think I’ve been a part of it dozens of times in the last year… maybe even the last month.

Charlie: The RNC wants a public apology or we can’t book Republicans on any show.

Yes, I’m sure they do but as the head of the news division YOU want an apology right now.

Charlie: I don’t care if she wrote the collective works of Tolstoy. She also wrote this.

Very realistic, it doesn’t matter if you’re brilliant — you can’t do something this stupid.

Charlie: Republicans are rejoicing? You know 144 people got blown up, right? And that three of those people are dead. And that one of them is eight years fucking old.

This stretch of dialogue is part of what makes this show worth watching. The lyrical way Sorkin can write an angry monologue is fantastic.

Charlie: I’m so curious, I have to ask. At the time when you typed it, in that moment, what were you thinking the value of it was?
Hallie: Retweets
Charlie: I appreciate your honesty.

Just brilliant. And sadly realistic.

Maggie: Whenever you hear someone giving a monologue defending the ethics of their position, you can be pretty sure they know they were wrong.
Ethics professor: Can I point something out to you? You’re giving a monologue.
Maggie: Everyone does where I work.

I know I said I wouldn’t talk about the train scenes, but I couldn’t ignore this. It seems that a lot of this season is Sorkin being self-referential and trying to laugh with his critics. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Hallie’s tweet: Just left ACN for the last time. Great five weeks. Honest people. Sensational experience. One regret. I tweeted a terrible joke on the network’s account. No one else involved.

That’s too long for one tweet. Come on guys.

Jim: You’re going to get plenty of job offers.
Hallie: i’m not worried, I’m embarrassed.
Jim: No one who knows you thinks you have anything to be embarrassed about.
Hallie: There’s a pretty strong consensus among people who don’t know me that I’m “a stupid fucking libtard whore who should have been dismembered on Boylston Street after first getting sodomized by a jihadist.”

That’s a stupid statement. People should really not tweet that but that’s twitter, I’m sure that type of thing would really happen.

Jim: Some of the offers are gonna be from people who don’t like us very much.
Hallie: Who doesn’t like us?
Jim: Not you and me. ACN. For some of the outlets, being someone with an ax to grind against us would be an asset.

That could be true but probably not in practice. The Fox News “mole” couldn’t get a job once he left the network. He did write a book and probably made some money.

Bliar: Invoking Leona Lansing is gonna get you nowhere with me. Our fidelity is to our father’s legacy, not his mother’s.

If it took them that long to figure that out then they aren’t as smart as I gave them credit for being.

Blair: I understand we were born on third base, but I’m stealing home now.

Not a bad metaphor.

Leona: I’ll tell you what. Leona is for friends and family. If you’re trying to poach my company, I’d prefer Mrs. Lansing

At this point the twins should just keep calling her Leona.

Leona: Webster’s Dictionary expanded the definition of the word literally to include the way it’s commonly misused. So the thing is, we no longer have a word in the English language that means literally.

Sure we do, it’s literally. You can tell by the context what it means. Also (from Google): “exactly, precisely, actually, really, truly; without question, unquestionably, indisputably”

Leona: $4 billion for a $62 billion company? It’s a steal.
Reese: It’s not! But even if it were–
Leona: Yeah?
Charlie: I think he’s trying to say you don’t have $4 billion.
Leona: How much do I have?
Reese: I don’t know, but it’s somewhere in the ballpark of nothing close to $4 billion!

And that’s why I’m rooting for the twins over Leona and Reese.

Leona: I need $4 billion cash right now

What crap.

Charlie: Have you ever seen a more trustworthy person in your life?

I can describe Sam Waterston in many ways but trustworthy wouldn’t be at the top of my list.

Molly: And I’ll tell you what else. There are three levels of Internet systems the government works on. THis guy was working on JWICS and we don’t believe he has the ability to transfer content to the protocol router. So if we can prove your guy helped him do it, he’s getting charged with a full boat.


Neal shouldn’t be running away in a suit and tie!

You just finished over 3,500 words on this episode of the Newsroom. Need more? I haven’t had a chance to read this article (I had to write this blog) but I’ve heard it’s good.

Evaluating my midterm predictions

•November 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I realized that if I don’t do this now then I won’t ever get this done. I made my predictions here.

“GOP will win the Senate” I was right! My 52 was slightly low, it’s going to be 53 or 54 but I’m counting this as a win.

“But we won’t know the exact number of GOP Senators for awhile” I was right about this. Louisiana is in a run-off and Alaska’s Mark Begich refuses to concede (even though he lost). Two-for-two!

“The turnout will be low” I believe I had that. I mentioned 40 percent turnout and it was even lower — 36.3 percent. Three-for-three.

“Voter ID laws will be blamed” They weren’t blamed as much as I thought they would be, but you still had a hard time watching TV coverage without it being mentioned. Counting this in the win column. Four-for-four.

“But I don’t think they are what made the difference” On the money here. This New York Times explains it in more detail than I would ever want to. Five-for-five.

“We will have nerd-on-nerd crime” Really was saved by everyone trashing the pollsters. Most of the aggregators stayed polite but people really trashed the polling. Six-for-six.

“Colbert and Stewart will be great” This was the lock of the night and it connected. Seven-for-seven.

Revisiting the Mayday Super PAC, which I referred to as the Hipster Super PAC: They didn’t have a great night.

According to Recode, the PAC raised $10.6 million and lost six of eight races. The website goes on to say “The two Mayday candidates who won — conservative North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones and Arizona Democrat Ruben Gallaga, a former state lawmaker – both did it mostly without Mayday’s help. In both races, the candidates faced tough primary challengers, but Mayday didn’t get involved in either race until shortly before voters went to the polls.”

Larry Lessig, a creator of Mayday, put it even stronger in his post titled “We lost. Badly” I’ll admit that I didn’t think they would do that poorly. You knew they weren’t going to sweep into Congress but they didn’t realize how their own methods would backfire.

I have thought for a while that money in politics is a red herring, it’s something people can blame while sounding smart (as with gerrymandering) but doesn’t explain the whole problem. The Washington Post explained it well here. That doesn’t mean that all this money in politics is a good thing or that it has NO effect, it just means ending it (or particularly reversing Citizens United, which would not end all money in politics) would be a silver bullet.

Interested in reading more about Mayday’s failure, I’m not, but here is the link to Politico’s piece.

As always, thanks for reading.