This week on The Newsroom, Genoa airs and subsequently unravels before our eyes. But the main question (for the lawsuit as well as the episode) is: Was the Genoa problem the result of one person's rogue actions, or the entire team's institutional failure? Moreover, this episode is a study in trust. Was there too much trust, and not enough skepticism? Was trust the reason no one caught the holes in the story?
This week's episode, Red Team III, features the last approval before airing the Genoa story. This responsibility rests on Will (and some lawyers lurking in the background?) after everyone reviews the evidence once more. The team discusses the evidence; Jim is skeptical and doesn't seem to trust Dantana. Others are ready to go ahead with the story. And Will...when Will is asked point blank what he thinks about the story, he defers to Charlie and Mack. (I think this puts a mark in the "Institutional Failure" column. Good job assessing the story based on the facts presented, Will!)
Will's approval (or lack of disapproval) leads to the story airing as a special report. The first thing that happens is, Stomtonovitch calls Charlie in a fury, claiming his comments were taken out of context. This is largely dismissed, and the team celebrates their record-breaking viewership numbers despite any unease they may be feeling. (Stomtonovitch is right, but no one knows that yet.) Next, we see one of the key sources (Sweeney, a soldier who participated in Genoa) being interviewed by Elliott. Sweeney just happens to mention that he suffered a traumatic brain injury in combat...a fact that he hid during his interview with Mack and other meetings with the ACN team.
This really starts to put doubt in everyone's mind. Meanwhile, the Pentagon releases a statement that says the report is "absolutely false" and throwing around words like "espionage act". Shit's getting serious, people.
Charlie decides to revisit his trusted source, who gave him the helo manifest listing the mystery material we thought was sarin gas. In a complicated (and somewhat contrived) twist...this source lied as part of a grand plan to get revenge on Charlie for causing his son's death. (This was considered a harsher punishment than having him killed, apparently.) It seems the guy's son was working at ACN after completing a stint in rehab, and was getting his life back until he messed up at work and was then fired. The son subsequently killed himself. What's a grieving covert agent to do?? Leave secret messages in papers and develop a plot to cause our quixotic News Night team to utterly lose the integrity they fought so hard to build, that's what.
While Charlie is getting slapped in the face by a grieving father, Mack is giving the story a second look and realizing that a great deal of the story is based on Sweeney's testimony, and in fact, so is Valenzuela's entire interview. Another thread comes loose. The team has now lost the helo manifest, Sweeney's testimony, and Valenzuela's testimony. All that's left is Stomtonovitch.
Guess what?? We can rename Chekhov's gun as Stomtonovitch's game! (Doesn't quite have the same ring to it...what about Stomtonovitch's clock? Stomtonoclock? "Man, that's such a Stomtonoclock!" I think we can make it happen!) The shot clock on the basketball game gives Mack the proof she needs to confront Dantana about doctoring the interview. Mack is geniunely disappointed and hurt that Dantana changed the tape, and fires him on the spot. She misplaced her trust.
At the conclusion of depositions by Lawyer MGH (whom I will now call Becca), Charlie, Will, and Mack are convinced that some or all of them have to resign for News Night to continue. They meet with Leona Lansing to do so, but Leona, after revealing her hilarious obsession with Daniel Craig, refuses their resignations and challenges the team to win back the audience's trust. Leona loves News Night, and wants them to continue their quest, and doesn't want to give Dantana a dime. Becca seems to think she can win their case, so I suppose we're off to court!
What do you think the team will take away from this? Don't trust outsiders? Was it institutional failure, or was Dantana the rogue element who caused it all? Personally, I strongly dislike Dantana but it can't rest all on his shoulders. I keep thinking about how Will, the prosecutor with years of experience, didn't catch the weakness of Valenzuela's testimony. There's just too much taken for granted as true in this whole process. What do you think?