Over the previous four episodes, Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom has become the liberal media's Sunday night darling. So, after the July 15th offering, which featured fictional news anchor Will MacAvoy comparing Tea Party members to sex offenders, a little conservative-bashing was expected. The July 22 episode did not disappoint, with the team at "Atlantic Cable News" delving into the Citizen's United Supreme Court case and effectively accusing Clarence Thomas of bribery.
In the first few minutes of the episode, the news team becomes aware of the overthrow of Mubarak's government in Egypt. Despite the fact that one of the most volatile countries in the world has ousted its dictator, they decided to lead with a report that Republican governor Scott Walker is "trapped in a newspaper office with 75 teachers outside." They then analyze a tape of a reporter asking the Koch brothers if the Citizen's United decision increased their influence. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
When they say no, MacAvoy runs with the story, accusing Justice Clarence Thomas of accepting bribes via his wife, through a foundation which receives funds from the Kochs. He then goes so far as to link it to Walker's attempts to eliminate collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin unions.
MacAvoy claims that, since "Citizens United decision allowed corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to any political candidate without anyone knowing where the money was coming from," and allowed the unions to do the same, "wouldn't the next step be to get rid of the unions?" In the span of two minutes he accuses a Supreme Court justice of bribery at the hands of two conservative donors who manipulated the system to hurt unions.
Eventually the news team does pour most of its energy into the Egypt story, just in time to throw in a few melodramatic plot twists about one reporter being beaten up and another being captured and held for ransom.
The Arab Spring crisis seemed like an odd issue to cover alongside the Wisconsin governor debate, until you get to the last few minutes of the show. In the beginning of the episode, MacAvoy inexplicably keeps talking about the movie Rudy.
In the final few minutes, he pays the ransom money so the reporter can be released. Naturally, every member of the news team lines up outside of his office and offers a small check to contribute while melodramatic music plays.
He then meets a shady gossip columnist in a bar and is about to pay her off so she doesn't report on his relationship with his executive producer. At the last second he rips up the check and gives a speech about his ethics as a journalist. The fact that if he was trying to be ethical, he wouldn't have tried to bribe this woman in the first place is, apparently, irrelevant.