Newsroom: Season 3, Episode 4: Contempt

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.




~ by realfactsandbeer on November 30, 2014.

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