The Blackout, Part 1: Tragedy Porn

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Drama, USA, 2012

Synopsis "The Newsroom" - "The Blackout, Part 1: Tragedy Porn" - August 12, 2012 Will is chatting with a potential magazine profiler about how he wants the changes at News Night documented. He will only agree to certain conditions and is dismissive of the writer who once wrote for Newsweek and now runs a blog. The writer, Brian, is insulted that Will basically wants him to audition for the job of writing about him. Will is also smoking a cigarette for some reason. The writer want to know what Will is prepared to talk about: his childhood, his Republicanism,his personal life. Will dances a bit with him and they agree to terms including that the writer discloses he's friends with Mackenzie and dispatches quickly with the cheating email she sent. The writer wonders why now, if something is going to happen at News Night?Will says the writer has to learn their philosophy is and he'll tell him about it later.Will goes to a meeting with Reese, Charlie and Mac. It's May 27, 2011 and Reese is dressing them down for not reporting on Casey Anthony. They took a big ratings hit because of it, from second to fifth place. They all take credit for the choice not to cover it. But it was Mac who makes another righteous plea about Reese being in business with advertisers while she's in business with viewers. Reese points out she has no viewers. Mackenzie says they'll just wait it out," how long can the trial go on?" Charlie orders them to start covering Casey Anthony. Will agrees. Mac is mad saying "it's just this side of a snuff film." Charlie doesn't care, says he doesn't like it but they have to do it. Plus they won't get a Republican debate if they're in fifth place and Will really wants the debate.Brian goes out to the newsroom and chats with Jim, whom he knows from the past. Jim starts talking to him about the debate but says he can't really talk to Brian until he gets instructions about what they can talk about.Mac and Sloan meet at a bar. Sloan is going to an economic convention that sounds super boring. She also mentions she wants a few extra minutes on the show after the long weekend to talk about a House vote about the debt ceiling and that it's going to be a big, catastrophic story. Mac says she can't because on Tuesday they have to start covering Casey Anthony. She explains about the ratings. Sloan says it isn't ego it's a big story. Mac knows but she has to do what she has to do to get the debate. Sloan then asks about Brian Brenner who she thinks is cute. Mac admits that Brian is the guy that she cheated on Will with. Sloan points out that Brian is doing the piece is really "messed up."Jim and Neal work on mock debate questions in another corner of the bar. As they do they get Anthony Weiner's wiener tweet.The next morning Will and Mac watch Weiner on the news. Will has his number and calls him and leaves a message to call him. They try to figure out what to do. Will wants three minutes to talk about it to have "balance." Mac points out that Will previously thought that this kind of "balance" was hogwash. He keeps bringing up the debate and getting it. Mac gets all righteous about it pointing out that it has nothing to do with anything politically but she'll give him his three minutes. Brian watches all of this and when Mac leaves Brian says he's pretty familiar with "that voice" and guesses Will is too. He is. They talk about how hard Will has been on the Tea Party. Brian asks if Leona Lansing has asked him to tone it down. Will says he won't do Brian's reporting for him. Brian keeps probing asking if Leona is using her own tabloid magazines to target him for firing. He also points out that losing half his audience makes Will more vulnerable. And then he realizes what Will is doing: trying to get a heroic portrait out about what they're doing at News Night so if Leona lowers the boom it will be clear it is for her own political gain with the people she wants/needs in power in Washington. He's impressed.They continue to mock debate in the rundown room. They go over Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann, specifically her being told by God to run for president. Maggie goes off on a rant about, essentially, what a crazy person Bachmann is and how she's insulting Christians. Mac comes in and explains about leading with Casey Anthony. She whacks their "serious" story pitches to make room: economy, senate obstruction, the war on drugs failing. Don, whom Mac calls a "master of the Dark Arts," come in to give tutelage on exploitation news.Charlie goes to a library to meet with his deep throat. He initially sits with the wrong guy. The guy asks him to take his battery out of his cellphone. He does it for him. The guy explains his long career as a cryptologist and then in private sector as a big deal IT guy, and then back to the NSA where he's a big software honcho helping with data mining in a project called "Global Clarity" that intercepts billions of phone calls and emails, illegal warrantless wiretapping to "hunt for terrorists" which violates the 4th amendment and bunches of other codes and stuff: checking in on ex-wives, movie stars. He say he went to the Inspector General at the Pentagon and got nowehere because no one wants to be seen as soft on terrorism. He tells him that TMI has been doing the same phone hijinks as Murdoch's papers and that Leona's son-- Reese-- has been ordering the phone/email hacking. Charlie is aghast. He wants to know why this guy is whistle-blowing. He says he didn't spend his life fighting Communists to have the U.S. come to this, spying on their own. He tells Charlie to vet all the material and figure out a way to protect himself from Leona.Don is explaining "tragedy porn" -- breaking down Nancy Grace's coverage-- and Brian comes in to observe. He helps them with visuals, insights, and picking up "experts" like the guy who "packages the 'missing white girl.'" Mac pouts about all of it and Will has had enough and yells at her.Charlie calls Mac into Will's office. They shut out Brian. He explains about his deep throat: Solomon Hancock and that TMI has been hacking and that it goes as high as Reese. Charlie leaves and Mac asks why Will asked Brian to do the profile. Will says because he owns him now because Brian needs a cover story to revive his career --since his blog went bankrupt-- and if he writes a negative profile people will think it's because of the soap opera of their tangled history. Mac brings up Sloan's debt ceiling story and asks whether it should go before Weiner. He says she'll figure it out.The next day Reese excitedly tells Will that the viewers are coming back as are the advertisers. Will can't look at him. Reese notices. Will says he's looking at him normally. He then starts talking about potentially killer weather. Will says he won't do weather reports and tells Reese to say hi to his mom.Will, Jim, Charlie, and Mac meet about vetting Solomon. Jim is going to handle it. He's also aghast at the story. They explain what Jim will have to do and how tricky it will be and how he'll need not to raise any flags with the NSA. Will "doesn't" remind him about confidentiality.Mac goes to her office and Brian wants to interview her. He points out that it's a bad week for him to be there. She agrees. They start talking about getting the debate: she says if they get it and do it the way they want they will change the way debates are done forever and they need viewers for that. Then they have it out personally. He brings up the email in which she says she cheated on Will and says that was him yes? She says yes. He points out that he thought they were dating so actually she cheated on him with Will. She says what they had was not a real relationship, more like drunken booty calls. She says she's paying the price for it since she works 30 feet from the life she could've had if she hadn't been stupid and now he's looking at the life he could've had if he hadn't been such a douchebag.Neal interrupts with a story pitch on internet trolls and the internet clubhouses they hang out in and brag about the minds they've changed. Neal is going to have to troll against News Night to get into the gang. Neal asks Sloan if he can go out on a site and troll about her for the good of his story. She doesn't care for this and gets physical about it.Maggie gets a call from a woman who has tweets from Anthony Weiner.Will wants to get a drop in with his therapist. Lonny doesn't like it. His doctor has a patient. Will convinces him to give him a minute. He explains about what he's doing at News Night, selling out, yelling at the staff and he did it quickly etc. He says he's fine with all that, he's weirded out that he hired Brian. The doctor says Will is holding his hand over the candle because he thinks the trick is "not minding." But that isn't the trick, the trick is forgiving MacKenzie. The doctor points out that Will is working through this he's hurting Mac. He says he knows. He tells Lonny he's not doing it on purpose.Maggie meets with the Weiner tweets woman, Sandy. She shows Maggie the tweets, they are racy. Maggie asks why she's doing it since it seems like she's a willing participant.She didn't know about the other women. She did, however, know about his wife. She says without irony that she was "fooled" and the world needs to know "what kind of guy he is." Maggie asks if Sandy is sure she wants to pile on. She's also doing Access Hollywood, ET and Fox. Maggie is disgusted by her but says they want her on the show.Charlie chases down Leona on the street and tells her that they know where the tabloid stories are coming from. Leona asks how it would look if they had one of their own newsmagazines go soft on Will. Charlie scoffs at TMI being called a "news" magazine. She reminds him about what she said about going easy on the Tea Party or 'context' would be created. He tells her that she needs to hear him. She blows him off. She tells him to tell Will that he's one eff-up away from having his own podcast.Sloan tracks down Mac and pleads her case again and gives her amazing quotes from her Wall St. sources. They fight about it in the middle of the newsroom. Sloan wants it tonight to give "the people" time to do something about it. Mac promises she's going to do everything she can.The Weiner girl is getting ready to pre-tape her segment. Will comes to the set and they meet. She says she's a big fan. Mackenzie asks for a sign from God that she's not doing a big thing badly. And then... the power goes out.

Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter  

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

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