The Newsroom Review: “News Night With Will McAvoy” (Season 2, Episode 5)

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Tonight marks the official halfway point in the second season of The Newsroom and the show has jumped about six months from episode four into what has to be the most busy news day in recent memory. Between George Zimmerman, the suicide of the Rutgers student, and explosions in Syria, it seemed like the perfect storm to allow Sorkin to do a bottle episode in the newsroom, in real time, as the March 16th edition of News Night went to air. There are also personal dilemmas galore, but do you think they get in the way of most important newscast ever made? I think we all know the answer to that.

The most irksome development involved Sloan “Don’t Call Her Money Honey” Sabbath, once The Newsroom‘s best written female character, now completly ruined by the improbable development that a woman as smart and engaged as Sloan would let a man she barely knows take naked pictures of her on a whim and at least not collect the memory card when it was done. Reese is in a tizzy, Charlie is defensive and Sloan just seems destroyed, and naturally the only way she can feel better is to let a man take care of her, in this case, Don, who seems to blow off his own job to be a shoulder to cry on.

But Charlie had bigger fish to fry than some naked shots of one of his anchors turning up on (Shame prevents me from typing that into my web browser to see if it’s real, anyway…) Charlie is visited by a man named Shep Pressman from the Office of Naval Intelligence and he knows that Jerry Dantana’s been sniffing around about Operation: Genoa. Shep warns Charlie that the story will have a negative effect on people whose help he’s going to need on future stories. He then poses a hypothetical: what if Charlie’s son had been a marine, would Charlie not want his child to be rescued by any means necessary, including the use of poison gas? And really, who takes the Geneva Convention seriously anymore anyway?

Before leaving Shep leaves a piece of paper behind that we learn is the manifest for a helicopter mission. As Mackenzie notes upon seeing it, it’s the first scrap of paper that they (and we) have seen with the actual words “Operation: Genoa” on it. Charlie notes the odd reference to the chopper carrying “MX76,” which his military sources identify as completely made up. Charlie recalls back to his days in a college acapella band called the “Whisky Sodas” and how they’d buy weed with group funds, but write “chicken” in the group ledger to expense it when they got back. Charlie’s now been convinced that Genoa is real, but the question is, just how much validity is out there, and from how many official sources, for what we know is a fake news story?

And as we wonder that, we see Maggie and the fact that her hair isn’t cut short and died red. Was that not a direct response to her Africa trip, as in it happened right after? Anyway, Maggie seems to be coping fine until she starts tearing into Jim about Hallie’s diatribe about Sandra Fluke’s treatment by Rush Limbaugh, which was picked up on the Huffington Post, where it’s ironically ranked behind the latest nip slips and side boob articles. Fair enough, but then Maggie segues into a defense of sluts saying that the country is divided into people who like sex (sluts), and those who are creeped out by it (Limbaugh, et al), and the small percentage of the latter should leave the majority in the former alone. Jim then tells Maggie that she should switch to vodka so her breath doesn’t smell so drunkenly. Oh boy. Maggie later makes the same famous mistake with the George Zimmerman 911 tape that MSNBC made.