News Night 2.0
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Alex Graves
In their first full staff meeting, MacKenzie introduces her vision for News Night 2.0. The show will feature stories that are important, placed in their proper context, offer the best version of an argument, and do not have a "bias toward fairness," which showcases both sides of a story that really only has one. At the meeting, Will shows off that he learned everyone's names, though Don, who is helping the show transition, is quick to point out that many of the staffers he can now identify no longer work for him.
Charlie meets with Reese from corporate, and asks him not to share information about the show's ratings with Will. Reese meets with Will anyway, and tells him the oil spill is a huge boost for him, even though MacKenzie wants to put it toward the end of the broadcast. Will shares that MacKenzie doesn't believe he needs to trade doing the news they feel is important for ratings, but Reese is insistent. He suggests Will use footage of Sarah Palin's confused reaction to the spill, but not criticize her.
MacKenzie recruits ACN's hot-shot financial reporter Sloan Sabbith to join the News Night broadcast to discuss economic news for five minutes a night. Sloan accepts the offer and tells Mac that she also once had a boyfriend who cheated on her, just like Will cheated on Mac. MacKenzie leaps to Will's defense, saying that he never cheated on her and that he has "a heart the size of a Range Rover."
For a segment discussing SB 1070, a controversial immigration bill being passed in Arizona, MacKenzie lines up Governor Jan Brewer to defend the bill's passage and has Jim supervise Maggie's preparation for the pre-interview with the governor's press aide. Ninety minutes before the show, Brewer's office cancels, and Jim demands to know what happened. Maggie reveals that she dated the press aide in college and made an embarrassingly personal aside during the phone call that led him to cancel.
Jim and Maggie scramble to replace the governor, landing some sub-optimal fill-ins: a University of Phoenix professor, the second runner-up in the Miss America contest, and a member of a citizen's militia who refuses to be filmed without his gun. MacKenzie can't believe how badly they've screwed up but says to go ahead with the segment; Will can carry the guests. She soon realizes that most of the staff shares Sloan's impression that Will is an ass, and she quickly dashes off an email to let him know. Instead, she accidentally emails the entire staff that it was she who cheated on Will. An irate Will confronts MacKenzie, who says she takes all of the blame. "Who else would be responsible?" Will shouts back.
During the segment, Will carries the lackluster guests as far as he can, but the segment goes off the rails. The beauty contestant, for one, says things like, "I'm an AmeriCAN, not an AmeriCAN't." After the train wreck, Will instructs an associate producer to go behind MacKenzie's back and run the Palin clip Reese suggested.
That night, Will apologizes to Charlie for the terrible show they put on. He takes the fall for MacKenzie, who was taking the fall for Jim, who was taking the fall for Maggie. Charlie tells Will not to go to Reese for the ratings numbers anymore.
MacKenzie stops Will in the hallway and asks him if he's in or out; his move with the Palin clip is not what News Night 2.0 is about. If he's on board with her vision of the show, she needs him to be its moral center.
The staff goes to a nearby bar, where Maggie drinks away her worries from the day. Don tries to get Maggie to move with him to 10 o'clock, but she's annoyed with him for his lack of support. They fight and "break up," and Don leaves. Later, a drunken Maggie tells Jim that she needs to go back to Don's place to apologize, but she's not sure for what.
From his home in lower Manhattan, across from the Statue of Liberty, Will calls up MacKenzie and tells her he's in.