Newsroom Red Team III

Here we go! I’m doing a full version of this episode since I won’t do a live blog tonight (I have some other things to do)… now for a post that’s (probably) 1,000 words longer than it should be.

Don: A producer comes up from DC. He wants to make a name for himself in New York. He chases a story that’s not there. And the story, it’s not a kitten up a tree. Chemical weapons, sarin gas on civilians. He cooks an interview. He takes a pair of scissors to raw footage. Of a man on the street? Of a retired, three-star Marine general. We go to air. and with it Atlantis Cable News. ANC is brought to its knees. The producer’s surgical strike is discovered and the producer is fired. Does he write an open letter to the New York Times apologizing to the public, his colleagues, the three-star general, and the US Armed Forces? No, he sues us for wrongful termination.

That’s a pretty good summary of the events of Operation Genoa, glad everyone is on the same page.

Don: I need some kind of sign from you, Rebecca, because you’re obviously — All four of you, you can’t be stupid and afford haircuts this good.

I wouldn’t have thought that how much you spend on haircuts correlates all that well with intelligence — also, these haircuts don’t look particularly special… I wouldn’t have said they were particularly expensive.

Rebecca: His claim is he’s a scapegoat.
Don: That’s his claim?
Rebecca: Yeah.
Don: I understand why he’d feel that way, because it was entirely his fault.
Rebecca: And if it was entirely his fault, then it’s not at all anyone else’s.
Don: It was not at all anyone else’s.

Others may have been partially at fault but the weight of the stupidity has to be on Jerry.

Rebecca: Why is it called a red team?
Don: The blood cells.
Rebecca: Hmm?
Don: White blood cells attack an infection, red blood cells clean it up. You have a group of people investigating a story, they’re the white team. Other people are purposely kept out of the loop so that when the white team is ready, they can — Rebecca: Fresh eyes.

I guess that makes sense but I have never heard that term used — and most journalistic terms don’t deal with science (or math). Also I don’t think the term “white team” was used until now.

Charlie: This is a list of every weapon the Black Hawks were carrying, or at least one of the two Black Hawks. MX-76. Five munitions experts say there’s no such thing. It’s what you write in that spot when your payload is codeword-classified.
That’s the sarin.

I’ve said this time and time again — just because it was classified (or even codeword-classified) doesn’t mean it’s sarin.

Rebecca: Were you happy with the evidence so far?
Neal: Was I?
Rebecca: Yeah.
Neal: Rebecca, I run our website. I’m not an investigative reporter.

Fucking hell! You are the editor-and-chief (that’s what I take from saying you “run” the website) of a big time cable news website. You are (or at the very least SHOULD BE) a journalist.

Rebecca: Yeah, I’m just asking how you felt about the evidence so far.
Neal: I’m not qualified to judge the evidence.
Rebecca: You were on the Genoa team?
Neal: Yeah.
Rebecca: You were put on the team?
Neal: Yes.
Rebecca: Neal. Don’t ever fucking say out loud that you are unqualified to judge the evidence.

Points for Rebecca, Neal is an idiot.

Will: I heard the same story.
Sloan: That came as kind of a shock to everybody. Like Charlie’s source, Will was only able to identify him or her as reliable and in a position to know.
Rebecca: At that moment —
Sloan: I know what you’re gonna ask and it doesn’t matter.
Rebecca: Sloan, at that moment, did anyone in the room … Did anyone at that moment think to ask if Charlie’s source and Will’s source were the same person?

So the implication is that Charlie and Will’s source were the same guy. It seems really surprising that they both would have cultivated the same source. When I’m in a newsroom in a situation like this you ask who the sources are (probably not in front of everyone but at some point you ask, maybe in a closed office).

Jerry: I’ll take the reporting.
Sloan: I’d take Jim’s gut.
Neal: Me, too.
Jerry: You worship at the altar of logic and reason.
Neal: And I don’t believe this many people could keep something like this a secret.

I think it’s really dangerous to follow a “gut feeling” — especially in a situation like this but in Sorkin’s writing a feeling is normally right.

Jim: Jerry, I know these guys.
Jerry; All due respect, Jim, but you fetishize these guys. Two million men and women in the armed services. You were embedded with a couple of units. You know a few these guys.
Sloan: Hang on.
Jim: I don’t think it’s fetishizing to admire people who signed up to fight a couple of wars that neither one of us wanted to dirty our hands with, but I do give them the benefit of the doubt.
Jerry: I gave them the benefit of the doubt, too, until I saw pictures of what’s-her-name doing the “get this” pose next to prisoners in dog collars wired to car batteries. It doesn’t feel right? We’ve tortured, drowned, wiretapped, renditioned, and suspended due process, but you think we drew a moral and legal line someplace?

Just as Jim is judging based on the military people he was embedded with, Jerry is judging based on the infamous examples of bad behavior. Not a great way to judge.

Jerry: Are you one of the Andrews Sisters?

This Andrews Sisters line is a Sorkin special — I’m not sure how widely his audience is familiar with the work… they toured with the USO during WWII so this is inferring that Jim is attached to the military and hopelessly naive/ignoring what is really going on.

Here is a video of them sisters:

Can Jim sing like this? Don’t think so.

Sloan: I also think we should consider there’s an election going on.
Jerry: You think we shouldn’t run it until after November?

That is ridiculously stupid… Neal and Sloan are really making it hard for me to believe that ACN does good work.

Will: I trust Charlie and Mac.

Very interesting wording, not “let’s run it” or anything like that.

Mac: Who’s playing?
Will: The California Golden Bears are hosting the UCLA Bruins.

Hat tip to mediumhappy for this info: “Except that Cal would not be hosting UCLA on Sunday night, September 9. The two Pac-12 schools would meet nearly one month later, on October 6. Our research indicates, and we are basing it upon the 14-14 score on the screen and the iso on Cal coach Jeff Tedford, that this footage would have come from the October 16, 2004 meeting between the two. Why Sorkin used this footage is beyond me.”

Wow, that’s a lot more research than I’m willing to put into these posts — go, give them traffic for their excellence! I will continue gabbing on about nothingness.

Mac: Why are there two clocks?
Will: One’s the game clock and one’s the play clock. The game clock is showing how much time is left in the quarter and the play clock shows how much time is left to get off the play.
Mac: They only have a certain amount of time to complete the play?
Will: They only have a certain amount of time to start the play.
Mac: Don’t have that rule in soccer.
Will: They don’t have any rules in soccer. That’s why you think a game that ends in a zero-zero tie — is a gamely fought match.
Mac: It’s called nil-nil.
Will: I was trying to keep it from being worse. I was helping you out.
Mac: Do any other sports have enforced pacing? Does baseball?
Will: No, pitchers commonly go for a sandwich between pitches. Golf you can be penalized for slow play. Hockey you can hang onto the puck for as long as you want, but before too long a guy named Lars is gonna hurt you. Basketball has a shot clock. You’ve got 24 seconds to put up a shot, or in college it’s 35. Tennis you can lose a point for slow play.

Really hitting us over the head with the shot clock… even if you didn’t get it when the basketball game was first in the background (honestly, I didn’t but it seems the rest of the free world did) you have to know it’s coming now — and all the suspense of that is gone. Notably “enforced pacing” is a very strange term.

Neal: This is the overnight book. The night crew puts together every story and every press release from everywhere. Go through this and separate it into four piles — knew that, didn’t know that, don’t care, and Shakira. But that one’s just for me, all right?

“Book” normally means “plan” in my newsroom — You write the book to plan what you are going to put in the paper or on the web or on TV.

Mac: Is it possible they’ve responded in a secret corner of the Internet? Secret corner of the Internet? Slay a dungeon wizard to get the keys to Mordor or something?
Neal: It’s not possible.
Mac: Something that we need that Dumbledore

Dumbledore should never go to Mordor… come on Mac, you are British you should know this stuff (yes, I’m aware that Mac is American and all the differences between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings… I just couldn’t resist the joke)!

Jenna: Piers Morgan and Rihanna had a Twitter fight about her haircut.
Neal: I’ll give you $100 if you go pitch that to Will.

No chance that Neal has $100 to burn on that, although the intern should take him up on it.

Sloan: People were resolved. Jim had already said his piece. His job was to support Mac now, and that’s what he was doing. At the expense of good advice? He’d given his advice. And Charlie, Mac, and Will had given their instructions.

You have to stand by the story once you put it out there… not matter what you actually think.

Sloan: What do we expect them to– “Well, you caught us. Bravo to you, sirs. We’ll walk ourselves over to Leavenworth now.”

Of course they wouldn’t say that! That would be sexist… they would say “Well done young and old lads/chaps, bravo — nay, brava! We shall set forth to the miserable exile of Elba — oh, not available? Leavenworth? Ugh, no that’s not going down”

Sloan: ‘Cause you wouldn’t make it in jail, Don. I’d survive, but you wouldn’t. In fact, I’d thrive.
Don: How do you figure?
Sloan: Shawshank. I’d do everybody’s taxes and invest the warden’s money.
What are you gonna do? Produce their nightly news show?

Unpopular opinion: I think Shawshank is overrated — but am surprised that we have a culture reference from the recent history (no more Andrews Sisters) — although it was almost 20 years ago.

Jerry: Well, so why would he lie about a story that wasn’t true?

I listened to this line five times and just don’t get it, please explain in the comments section.

Will: I have a source. Is it POTUS? No. It’s better.
Sloan: What would it take for you to tell me the source?
Will: Someone would have to be torturing you.

If you trust Mac then why not tell her the source?

Shep: Do you want to see some pictures of David?
Charlie: Who’s David?
Shep: David’s my son, Charlie.
Charlie: Is there a problem with the story?
Shep: There he is. We’re moving him into his dorm at BU. And here he’s home for Thanksgiving.
Charlie: Shep.
Shep: Hang on. That’s on the Cape. We rent a house in August. Here’s a picture he sent me his first day interning at ACN. And there he is, first day home from rehab at Sierra Tucson. And this one’s from his funeral last year.
Charlie: Jesus, Shep.
Shep: I know, I took a picture at a funeral. That’s crazy, but it’s just for you.
They call it heron now. Like the bird, just a little heron.
Charlie: I didn’t have any idea.
Shep: You hired him as a summer intern on his 90th day. Three months is a landmark in that world. Three everything — Three days, three weeks, three months, three years. Who the fuck knows why?
Charlie: Are you sure you don’t want to sit?
Shep: We’re in a garage!
Charlie: We can go somewhere.
Shep: One of your people, Charlie, one of your people — One of your people fired him and you didn’t stop it.
Charlie: I wish, man– I wish you’d talked. There’s an explanation.
Shep: You didn’t stop it.
Charlie: He was a good kid. He was a smart kid and a worker.
Shep: He was a 19-year-old junkie, but he was clean 90 days.
Charlie: Our social media guy runs the interns.
Shep: Neal Sampat.
Charlie: David —
Shep: Whose name you didn’t know.
Charlie: was posting — Is this something you really want to hear?
Shep: Yes. From you, badly.
Charlie: I never knew anything–
Shep: He posted something on the Internet?
Charlie: Look.
Shep: Yeah?
Charlie: A couple of years ago, News Night got a new EP and the show — Boy, is your wife —
Shep: Linda is my ex-wife. The show took a turn and what?
Charlie: David posted things about it on the Internet he didn’t like. Things about — He was politically engaged.
Shep: Mm-hmm.
Charlie: Neal–
Shep: Neal Sampat.
Charlie: Neal warned him he can’t do that and he kept on doing it. I’m sorry.
Shep: You didn’t step in.
Charlie: He deserved to be fired.
Shep: How many stories have I given you? There was a moment a while back I thought about having you killed. Then I thought, “What does Charlie Skinner fear more than death?” Sit back, wait for your moment. Then Jerry Dantana starts calling MARSOCs about Genoa. The helo manifest you gave me. Hold it over light for 20 seconds.

Seeing this the first time didn’t really capture it… I don’t know whose side I’m on with this David issue — it’s a large issue with watching the show (I’m not rooting for any of these characters, I don’t find them likable).

Jerry: No one I wouldn’t have done this on any other story and I wouldn’t have done it unless I was sure.

Still wrong, very wrong.

Leona: I just paid $1,000 to see Skyfall and attend a party at the Museum of Modern Art. The proceeds are going to the Tribeca Film Festival. You know why?
Charlie: To support the arts?
Leona: To meet Daniel Craig.
Charlie: Did you?
Leona: Hurricane Sandy and the airports.
Charlie: He wasn’t there?
Leona: He was not there. You look like Daniel Craig. Get up. Oh, you look less like him now. Sit back down. And what about you? Why so glum, sugarplum?
Charlie: We’re gonna resign, Leona. It’s what has to happen now. Elliot Hirsch, Sloan Sabbith, Terry Smith, Dayside ACN, ACN. We understand the integrity of the news is more important–
Leona: Than one individual. That is beautiful. Not as beautiful as Daniel Craig.
Charlie: Leona.
Leona: I’d have sent my plane. I’d have sent my plane.
Charlie: We’re not fucking around.
Leona: You will resign when I fire you out of petty malice and not before.
Charlie Our trust numbers are —
Leona: Yeah, they’re bad.
Charlie: They’re fatal.
Will: Firing Jerry was obviously the right thing to do, but it wasn’t enough and we’ve known that for two months. Charlie and I have to go.
Leona: And Twiggy over here?
Mac: It was my fault.
Leona: McMac. Can I call you McMac? Doesn’t matter, I’m gonna anyway, McMac. Your head’s up your ass.
Mac: Mrs. Lansing.
Leona: Guy comes in here into my hizzy — guy comes in here, cooks an interview, no remorse. it goes on air. You, I don’t know what you’d do to Sherlock Holmes this thing. I wouldn’t be able to figure it out and I’m the smartest person in the room.
Will: Well, I wouldn’t go that–
Leona: Oh, shut the fuck up, you Daniel Craig wannabe.
Will: I don’t want to be Daniel Craig.
Leona: Well, you should want to be Daniel Craig. Everybody should.
Charlie: Leona, are you stoned?
Leona: You know, my makeup lasts a long time.
Charlie: Oh, jeez.
Mac: Mrs. Lansing.
Leona: No, no, please, call me– Continue to call me Mrs. Lansing.
Charlie: Leona —
Leona: Guy comes into my house which I love. Which I bet you guys didn’t know. But I love it. I love ACN. You don’t make me a nickel and you cause headaches for the divisions that do, but you make me — You make me so proud. God, guy comes in here, cooks an interview, and this ends up with — ‘Cause he’s unemployable he gets a $5 million settlement and the three of you leave? Oh, I don’t think so. And McMac. That’s a name that’s really starting to grow on me. She doesn’t have to go. Nobody’s ever heard of her. But she’s going to do the honorable thing. And what’s expected of me, huh? Not to do the honorable thing? What’s expected of me? No, I do not accept your resignations. And Jerry Dantana’s not gonna get one fucking dollar. I got some kick-ass courtroom outfits.
Will: You have to accept our resignations and you have to settle. He’ll take it to trial and win. There was an institutional failure and he was the only one fired. Rebecca: Then you’ll need a good lawyer. Lee, don’t accept their resignations.
Leona: I already wasn’t accepting their resignations, Becca. Don’t horn in on my honorable thing. God, I mean, can’t a lady have–
Charlie: Leona, we don’t have the trust of the public anymore.
Leona: Get it back!

Who is this character!? This does not go with anything we have learned about her thus far… so the next episode is the election? Election night wasn’t all that exciting (only a few states were real toss-ups) — is Sorkin going to cover the Nate Silver thing?

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~ by realfactsandbeer on September 1, 2013.

One Response to “Newsroom Red Team III”

  1. Jerry: Well, so why would he lie about a story that wasn’t true?

    Jerry means “Why would Eric Sweeney lie (about the reason for getting his second Purple Heart) just to tell a story (about Operation Genoa) that he knew wasn’t true?”. Jerry obviously thinks Eric’s determination to conceal the true reason for his military award is proof of his conviction that the Genoa story is really true: that Eric would only be willing to dishonour his conscience and lie about something so honourable as a Purple Heart if it was to serve the greater honour of exposing genuine war crimes – ergo, sarin gas must have been used in the operation. The lie of the first story proves the truth in the second story.

    This is obviously flawed logic and I’m surprised no-one challenges Jerry on it. If Sweeney is willing to lie about one thing why should they trust him not to lie about the other? I guess they just didn’t understand what Jerry was talking about either. He is obviously an idiot.

    ps. thanks for an amazingly informative account. This is the first one i have read but i’m going to go back to the start and re-watch the series from the beginning in conjunction with reading your other blogs.

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