HBO’s The Newsroom continues where it left off last week, in the episode One Step Too Many, with another episode about “Operation Genoa,” called Red Team III. The entire concept of there ever having been an “Operation Genoa” where the United States may have used sarin gas on civilians in a town is at the root of both episodes, as is the idea of how many sources are enough to confirm that a story is accurate.
It’s the day before Election Day 2012, in real-time. But, much of the episode is told via flashbacks, and in flashback time, it’s the day before, the day of, and the day after the Genoa story aired. This episode shows ACN attorney Rebecca’s interviews with Don, Jim, Sloan, Neal, Maggie and Will. The interviews are rather cleverly used as a story-telling and framing device.
Jerry (Hamish Linklater) is the “villain” of both episodes, in that he doesn’t seem to care what the actual truth of the situation is, as long as his version of the truth gets out.
As Linklater put it to TVGuide.com:
He’s just a true believer who thinks he’s on the side of the angels, and that’s why he does what he does.”
Jerry has collected several sources for his compelling version of events — it’s just that, despite having the sources, the article is inaccurate, though he is convinced that it’s the gospel truth. He tries to convince Charlie (Sam Waterston) and “News Night” executive producer Mackenzie to air the story, but they’re reluctant to do so.
Jerry edited interview footage in the last episode, cutting out certain words that a retired general used who was interviewed, to make it seems as if he admitted the United States was using chemical weapons in the field.
According to Linklater in the TVGuide.com interview:
He believes the story is true,” Linklater says. “He just needs to get rid of one word from this interview in order for him to have enough evidence to get the story on the air. … He knows he’s done something that’s wrong. He knows that he’s breached ethics, but he believes that, for this story, it was worth it.”
Linklater told the reporter for TVGuide.com that:
He’s trying to tell news stories that the audience doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite for and the network doesn’t have much of an appetite for broadcasting. His beef is with this sort of lazy liberalism that he feels is in the staff and that kind of knee-jerk Obama fandom that he finds around him. He feels [they’re] apologizing for too many mistakes.”
Of course, that means that he ends up making mistakes, himself, but he doesn’t care, as long as what he feels is the “truth” gets out and is aired.
Jerry’s mistakes end up bringing the entire “News Room” team under fire, though, after he finally convinces them to air the “Genoa” story. Problems with the story start coming out almost immediately.
Jerry’s altered interview is one of them, and he gets terminated for his actions. But, he winds up having ammunition to file a wrongful termination suit, after the story turns out to be false in several other ways. What a mess….
Jerry sticks to his guns. The ACN attorney, Rebecca Halliday, who has been prepping the “News Room” team, for their upcoming depositions in the lawsuit. Don Sloan and Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) join Charlie and MacKenzie in explaining the many mistakes that were made along the way.
The attorney basically tells them, according to Linklater:
This is what’s going to happen, and if you don’t play by my rules, you’re going to lose.”
Rebecca tells the team that Jerry claims he’s a scapegoat. He says that it’s an “institutional failure” that ultimately led to the airing of the Genoa story. According to Don, Jerry wants to enjoy watching the higher ups (Charlie, Will and Mackenzie) fall.
By the episode’s conclusion, several of the staffers submit their resignations. But, the attorney’s job is to defend them, and she believes in them, and that she’s on the right side in the court case. She has to unearth the truth behind the whole fiasco, and in doing so, the staffers grow a bit as people. They learn more about the value of the truth, and getting the truth out to the public.
The Newsroom episode, Red Team III, is one which, like One Step Too Many, explores themes such as journalistic integrity, how many sources are enough, and the importance of getting the truth out to the public. As such, it’s another nice addition to this season, and the acting jobs of the entire cast were stellar, as usual.
Written by: Douglas Cobb