The 112th Congress

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Drama, USA, 2012

Synopsis "The Newsroom" - "The 112th Congress" - July 8, 2012Tonight's episode takes place as one long flashback.The framing device is a meeting that Charlie Skinner is attending with the owner of ACN's parent company, Leona Lansing, (played by the great Jane Fonda in a nice wink to her former real life role as Mrs. Ted Turner), her son, who turns out to be Reese, the ratings guy, but really the president, and some other executive types at the company.They are breaking down the last six months of News Night and the changes that Will and Mac have made to the show. As we learn about the different changes that have made the brass very, very angry, we go to a flashback of that happening.It began in May 2010.Will decided to write an "editorial comment" that outlined his new plan for "News Night." It was basically a manifesto in which he "apologized" for the kind of news that his show had previously been generating: i.e. "ginned up" controversies and the poor coverage of the collapse of the financial system. He admits that he "took a dive" for the ratings. He makes a long speech about the history of television news and its legislative roots and how it was supposed to be for the public good. He evokes great names from the past -- Murrow, Reasoner, Huntley, Rather, and Russert-- and says that News Night is in that business now.As he's speaking we see him writing the "editorial comment" and faxing it to his staff members late at night and them reading it, getting excited, and getting together to work on the speech. Charlie Skinner signs off on it.He continues to say they'll only put on what is real news essentially, and that they'll be the "champion of facts." He will share his opinions but will work hard to bring on people with opposing viewpoints. He says it is himself and McKenzie making the deicisons. (Don shows up drunk after the broadcast annoyed that he wasn't part of this new plan. Jim gloats.)Charlie starts getting confused about what this meeting is about. We learn in the meeting that Will has lost 7 percent of his viewers and of course, pissed off all the Tea Partiers who are now going into Congress, and the network execs are also seriously pissed as what they see as Will calling the network trash.We then follow through the next six months of coverage and things that pissed off the brass.- May 4: Will and Mac's decision to not play up a New York City bombing terror plot.-May 8-November Essentially, Will decides to take on the Tea Party. In doing so he royally pisses off David and Charles Koch, billionaire, one percenter big wigs. Will interviews Tea Party candidates, leaders, fundraisers, and the politicians who were ousted by them. He takes on folks who call Obama a socialist.-November 2 The newsroom is abuzz with election coverage. Elliott, the guy who was Will's protege and follows him at 10, does not cover himself in glory but Sloan, the financial reporter shines.Throughout all of this, Will keeps asking about the reaction from "the 44th floor". This is the executive floor, Leona's floor. And Charlie keeps reassuring him that there's no word from the top and that no news is good news. (The irony here is at the end of the flashbacks and election night coverage when the whole gang is celebrating a job well done at the bar at 2 a.m. is when Charlie gets the summons to the meeting that he has been in for the whole episode.)Leona wonders what happened to the human interest stories: obesity, breast cancer, the stuff that Will was good at. Charlie defends Will and says he is behind the changes. Charlie talks about all of the good stories the show has done. He talks about all of the international stories they've done. He yells at Reese. He drinks. He sputters with outrage. He and Leona bicker back and forth and she points out all the salient business points about why these changes are a very bad idea. She points out that the show accounts for less than 3 percent of the company's bottom line and that she's accountable to the shareholders, and powerful business types like the Koch brothers. She points out several times "I have business in front of this Congress, Charlie." He tries to lecture her about informing the electorate. She tells him in no uncertain terms that unless Will tones it down she's going to fire him. He counters Will will be tough competition. She points out Will's three year non-compete clause. Charlie protests that there is nothing to fire him for. She essentially threatens to manufacture a scandal on Will to create "context" for his firing. And that is the end of that.Also, while all of this is going on. Will goes out on a series of dates with different wormen, from a Jets cheerleader to an actual brain surgeon, and this is driving Mac crazy because he keeps meeting them in the newsroom. At one point Maggie points out that Will could meet the women at the restaurants. He says he's not doing it on purpose, he's just not considering Mac's feelings. He realizes how that sounds so he goes to apologize to Mac but just as he does, her new boyfriend shows up in the control room. It's very awkward.The other mini-drama happening is that Maggie and Don keep breaking up and getting back together and all along Jim continues to be a much better friend and person to Maggie. When she has a panic attack, Don blows it off and Jim talks her through it gently and lovingly with tactics he learned from soliders he was embedded with in the Middle East when they had their panic attacks. At the end of election night he's about to make a move during Don and Maggie's latest break up and then he sees them across the newsroom kissing and reuniting yet again.

Directed by Greg Mottola  

Starring Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, more...

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