The Newsroom Review: “Amen” (Season 1, Episode 5)

Meanwhile, Will, Mac and Charlie have to yet again deal with another fiasco when Mac is accused of using the show as an outlet for her boyfriend to gain access to a seat in Congress. Leona Lansing (who after only appearing in one episode is being fiercely missed), is pulling the strings once again in order to oust the current News Night team. Those issues aside, when Kahlid goes missing the team cannot get hold of corporate and when a ransom comes through for his release, corporate ignores them once again.

In order to save a person who they are now responsible for, Will pulls out his check book and offers up the money to pay for him, which makes for some wonderfully, unashamedly emotional television.

Sorkin has finally found his balance with The Newsroom, focusing mainly on the construction of the news: how it works, what the functions are and where the risks of being an honest reporter come into play. One of the most exhilarating scenes of this season takes place in an editing room right at the beginning of the episode, this is truly exciting stuff.

The show’s main conflict also proves itself to be fascinating and perhaps provides its most astute political allusion. The conflict I’m referring to is that of the balance between accurate news controlled by a corporation with strong ties in business and government (which have a controlling interest over how they are depicted in the media) and the fact that upsetting those big businesses is bad news for them even if what they’re reporting is in the general interest. For the show to be released at this point in our political landscape is really good timing too, as News International associates are being held up in front of an inquiry investigating media ethics.

I should also point out that this episode fulfils any sensible, forth right liberal’s dream of punching a hole in any screen Rush Limbaugh is on. That may not stir any kind of bubbling satisfaction in many people, but it does in me.

At the end of the day though, the show never forgets that it is primarily about entertaining its audience. As I have said throughout all my reviews of The Newsroom, the show being labelled as a drama is perhaps its biggest mistake. The show is one of the funniest on television, and while this episode is the most po-faced of them all, there are still moments of laugh out loud humour. Sometimes it may seem out of place, but it makes the show truly likeable.

The Newsroom may be comfort viewing, but it is also comfort viewing that satisfies the middle brow, semi-intellectual, politically engaged liberal. And I just can’t get enough of that.