Newsroom Season 3, Episode 2: Run

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.


~ by realfactsandbeer on November 16, 2014.

2 Responses to “Newsroom Season 3, Episode 2: Run”

  1. I didn’t much care for the train thing either. If it was just to get Maggie Jordan a new BF, then we can limit the snark to overlong and boring; meaning the part between Maggie and the EPA guy. Wise decision to skip it.

    Didn’t quite understand your point about the 1937 and You Can’t Take it With You. Which was 77 years ago. Leona and National Touring must have come into existance much later – so what did you mean?

    Uhmm – why would you be rooting for the twins. If they get the stock to Savannah, then ACN and the parent company go up in smoke – ? Now that might be how Sorkin wants to end the series with the show and the network sold off. But clearly we can’t be on the side of the hostile take over.

    At least I’m not.

    Thanks for the hard work. Looking forward to the next segment.

    • My point on 1937 was I assumed that touring companies were around well before then (I just couldn’t find any research backing me up). I could be wrong.

      On the twins: I see it as them vs. Leona and Reese. All those other people could end up doing the same thing for someone else. My greatest hope is that Quo Vadimus (the company from another Sorkin show Sports Night) comes back and buys them.

      Next installment coming soon

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