The Newsroom: Season 1, Episode 8

The Blackout, Part 1: Tragedy Porn (12 Aug. 2012)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama
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To salvage their ratings, the news team decides to lead with lurid criminal trial coverage at the expense of more worthy stories like the debt ceiling debate.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Solomon Hancock (as Stephen McKinley Henderson)


May, 2011. Ratings have dropped like a stone with viewers switching to "Nancy Grace" for the Casey Anthony trial. Charlie insists they start reporting on Anthony fearing that the ratings fall will mean ACN won't get to lead on presidential debates (they have a game-changing idea) and that Leona will have her excuse to fire Will. Mackenzie pitches fits and grumbles. Then, Anthony Weiner's genitalia become news, and there's precious little room for Sloane to report that a Congressional decision to debate the debt ceiling will precipitate fiscal havoc. Will invites Mac's ex to audition for a cover story about the show. A scandal is brewing, and the weather also wants a piece of the hour. Written by <>

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12 August 2012 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Brian Brenner: Are you prepared to talk about your Republicanism?
Will McAvoy: You say that like I've got polio.
Brian Brenner: Are you prepared to talk about having polio?
Will McAvoy: I grew up in a town outside a town outside Lincoln, Nebraska. My home town was a road. I was a college freshman before I *met* a Democrat.
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References JFK (1991) See more »


Written by Bob Dylan and Tim Drummond
Performed by Bob Dylan
played over closing credits
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The Newsroom: The Blackout Part 1-Tragedy Porn
17 November 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the Blackout Part 1, Charlie, McAvoy, and MacKenzie have no choice but to cover the Casey Anthony trial despite their protest (especially Mac who detests her news program being reduced to a circus entertainment) due to Nancy Grace securing a large bit of their audience. They treat it with little-to-no soul or heart, allowing this to infiltrate the importance of their news broadcasts, while Sloan is adamant that Mac report a major economic story on the potential of a devastating collapse of the currency and a debt ceiling ordeal that would affect not just America but the world at large. Charlie gives Leona one more chance to keep her tabloid mag, TMI, from attacking McAvoy, while he (McAvoy and Mac) assigns Jim the job of tracking down information on a NSA fiber optics genius (knowing abuse of the Patriot Act by the government, and illegal, unwarranted wiretapping) who has claimed that Leona's son, Reese (Chris Messina), is acquiring such techniques, clearly illegal and morally unethical behavior that must be stopped. This episode clearly establishes MacKenzie's disgruntlement at abandoning her integrity and philosophical stance on providing real news, and how resorting to attention-grabbing, ratings-baiting programs revolving around Anthony is anguishing to her. A major development has McAvoy "trial hiring" disgraced-journalist, Brian Brenner (Paul Schneider), a former boyfriend of Mac's (the man she cheated on behind Will's back), to potentially author a memoir of his "new era" of the newsroom. The Anthony Wiener story also pops during this time, with his online sexual misbehavior making headlines (again, such a scandal that appeals to the curious haunts the newsroom), along with his ill-advised interviews confronting the scandal. What is always neat about this show is how it is set just a few years from where we are currently so as to put a face on how the ACN, a fictional news studio, encounters news of that time; their reactions to headlines we had just been privy to, and how this studio would address and report them are part of the draw/appeal. Also Jane Fonda's Leona, a thorn in Charlie and McAvoy's ass, needs a just comeuppance so the seed has been planted that a combat is certain to begin. Reese's ratings-groveling capitalist, provoking misery from the news group who want no part of his brand of broadcasting, pandering to advertising/marketing sponsors, makes his presence felt here…the Casey Anthony trial is a big deal to him and, using the major drop in ratings as his leverage, he directs a forewarning to Charlie regarding capitalizing on its significance in the public consciousness. Having to endure one of Weiner's plastic, celebrity/gossip show "mistresses" torments McAvoy's ACN news team, with no one wanting to put her on their broadcast. A blackout just might rescue them from this…it closed the show, setting up a part 2. The meeting between Solomon and Charlie in the New York Library reveals a scary truth about the misuse of the Patriot Act and parallels the current scandal that came out just recently regarding Edward Snowden. The relevancy of The Newsroom is that it exposes issues of the day and how they correlate with where we are at as of the present.

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