'The Newsroom' ponders gotcha' journalism on Tea Party and Real Housewives

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The Newsroom on HBO tackled the topic of sourcing news stories prior to reporting them, including gossip about the dating life of anchor Will McAvoy.

Last night's episode, "I'll Try To Fix You," used the soulful music of Coldplay to accompany the final few minutes of a program that covered a lot of ground, but ended with one point made. A rush to report without an adequate basis puts hard news in jeopardy of being considered unreliable.

Will McAvoy came face to face with ambush gossip reporters as he tried to explain why his investigative reporting about the Tea Party differed from sensational celeb stories that destroy reputations and lives.

"You and I do the same thing for a living"

When a gossip columnist met Will McAvoy at the network's New Year's Eve party she tried to keep it light but Will is too serious a guy to leave well enough alone.

He got worked up with the reporter-writer, deliciously played by Hope Davis. She said that his six-month expose' on Tea Party claims that are not based in as much fact as Will and colleagues would hope, is equivalent to her "take down" piece about a reality show star.

She was ready to reveal something about one of the Real Housewives that could hurt the woman personally as well as ruin her career. Will got crazy when he realized the lady in front of him was serious, and while she has great legs, she is dangerously wrong.

Their tiff ended with Will getting a cocktail thrown in his face as exec producer and ex-girlfriend MacKenzie McHale cringed, knowing that the encounter would come back and bite Will. She was correct in that assumption. The incident made the N.Y. Post's "Page Six" gossip stories in a distorted way.

McAvoy had no better luck with two other casual dates after that. One woman repeated the alcohol in the face technique while bickering with Will about the gossip columnist's statements. Seems he should check with the ladies if they are fans of Real Housewives prior to him pontificating about them. The other date was packing heat in her purse and a gun debate ensued as the two were about to get cozy in Will's apartment.

Those incidents were leaked to Page Six and one appeared on the cover of the gossip reporter's magazine, "TMI". McAvoy was now under fire and in a quandary about how the twisted facts all got in the newspapers.

"Every second you're not current, a thousand people change the channel"

In the final ten minutes of the program, the Atlantis Cable News team was pressed into emergency service with only part of their crew in on a Saturday, as the news trickled in about the Arizona shooting of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

With the network's competitors at Fox, CNN and MSNBC reporting that Giffords died of her wounds based on one sketchy report from NPR, McAvoy and his team refused to echo it without further confirmation from someone on the ground in Tucson.

The network president who used to be Will's corporate sidekick and is driven by ratings and advertising dollars stormed into the newsroom and then into the inner sanctum of the broadcast booth, with a horrified McHale a hair behind him.

He screamed at Will, McHale and news division chief Charlie Skinner that they must report the death of Giffords or lose viewers who will tune out.

Since viewers of The Newsroom know how the actual Giffords story ends, we watched McAvoy wait to report it and of course he got it right.

Once Charlie Skinner put together the puzzle pieces and realized that the the network CEO and her network president son are leaking the info to the gossip rags, he informs Will that his own people have turned on him.

They are trying to keep Will on a short leash as he continues to expose Tea Party hypocrisy. Why? Because the new Republican controlled House of Representatives can make or break the corporate owner of the cable news network when it needs help with pending legislation.


Catch up on the season:
"The Newsroom shows that love and Arizona immigration law don't mix. " " The Newsroom surprise is Sam Waterston in a very different role."

HBO airs new episodes of The Newsroom every Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ET with replays throughout the week. Image: Wikimedia Commons

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