The Newsroom Review: “The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn” (Season 1, Episode 8)

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The Newsroom Review: "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn" (Season 1, Episode 8)

After the sanctimonious blip of last week’s dire episode, The Newsroom finds a return to form this week as the News Night team battle with the heads on the 42nd floor about content and ratings. While the Lansings continue their triumph of squashing the “mission to civilise”, Charlie’s anonymous NSA source has information which can potentially smear the owners of the company due to their involvement in warrantless phone hacking.

The episode primarily focused on what the show has been best at so far, the battle between creative freedom and the strong focus on ratings. The disagreement between the staff, and the owners who are protecting their interests and money, is a fascinating one and how that relationship can prevent us from knowing something which is crucially important about how we live is indeed intriguing and revelatory.

The big splash on the news scene at the moment is the Casey Anthony trial, which went uncovered by News Night and cost them nearly half their audience, slipping from the second highest rated news show to the fifth. With terrible figures like that not even Charlie disagrees with bumping up the Anthony trial if it means getting viewers back. It seems that for the moment, the Lansings have got what they wanted.

After promoting the story News Night gets its numbers back, with a large share of the new audience being female. Due to this resurgence in numbers, the Lansings now feel that this is the kind of show that Will should be headlining: one which panders to the popular audience with no real meaning.

When the Anthony Weiner story breaks they are set to fall back into what News Night was before Mac reinvigorated it. The story of Weiner’s unfortunate mishap may just be growing into something bigger (behave). The initial consensus is that Weiner’s Twitter account was hacked and although he later admitted to sending images of himself, there is a slight implication that this was not his fault.

Enter The Newsroom’s very own Deep Throat, who we heard last week and is now seen face to face telling Charlie that TMI has been ordering unwarranted hacking of people’s phones under the command of Reese Lansing.

The politics may be fairly on the nose but the comparison between the Lansings and the Murdochs is now so obvious that the characters can’t get away without discussing it. The point Sorkin is making is valid and this is truly when The Newsroom is at its best.

Hacking aside, the Murdochs, like the Lansings, have a very self serving, controlling influence over their news sources. In the UK, the Murdochs used their clout with papers in order to get people they wanted in charge into power as well as launching campaigns against politicians to make sure they never step inside the political arena again. The same goes for people who are being investigated in court.

UK readers will remember Christopher Jeffries being labelled the murderer of a young girl by the Daily Mirror and The Sun (a Murdoch entity) without a shred of evidence. Later, both papers were found to be in contempt of court when their accusations were wrong.

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