This week’s episode of The Newsroom showed the darker side of journalism. In one moment, a terrible decision is made simply out of the pressure to finish something that was started. Without hesitation, Jerry Dantana should be condemned for altering the raw footage of an interview concerning Operation Genoa, but there’s too much at stake.
Jerry’s been out to prove himself since he first landed in New York. Trying to “replace” Jim Harper while Jim was covering the Romney campaign, he stumbles upon a massive story claiming the U.S. military used sarin gas in Pakistan. If Jerry gets this story right, he’ll be hailed as a champion of watchdog journalism and will send powerful men go to prison as war criminals. If he gets it wrong, whatever reputation he has is lost. So now he has to prove that not only can he match Jim, he can do better.
He stumbles through an interview with a former general whose memory seems to be fading, and the general’s sporadic answers don’t comfortably confirm Jerry’s suspicions. Lucky for Jerry, he was alone with the general during the interview, allowing him the opportunity to re-edit the raw tape back in the newsroom. What was “if we used sarin, here’s how we used sarin,” becomes “we used sarin.”
Meanwhile, Maggie has been hitting the bottle harder and harder since her traumatic experience in Africa. She’s distancing herself from everyone, including Jim—who is now happily dating Hallie, the Romney campaign reporter who was at one point his competition. The odd couple meets up in New York for one night of cheesy Jim-the-boyfriend moments, but it’s cut short when Hallie is called back to the campaign front. Once again, Jim has put himself in a relationship that isn’t healthy from the start.
Will too is experiencing stress in his relationship with gossip columnist and previous enemy Nina Howard. Nina appeals to his obsession with the approval of the masses as she coaxes him into appearing on ACN’s morning show, saying it will help the public’s perception of him. He of course embarrasses himself during a football-throwing bit, and he and Nina get into a fight.
Back in the newsroom—and despite Jerry’s best efforts to make the story work—Charlie and Mac still want more proof of Operation Genoa and demand another source before airing the story. Thank the journalism gods for the News Night team’s lack of thoroughness because it turns out that the soldier they thought had been killed in action is alive and returning phone calls!
And so we are left to wait for the next episode’s unavoidable meltdown and most certain Will McAvoy diatribe. Sorkin is setting up Will for an epic breakdown after the report on Operation Genoa airs. Not only will he get the news wrong, he will lose Twitter followers. Hopefully we will finally figure out which one of those two things bothers him more.