The Greater Fool
The Newsroom | Season 1 | Episode 10

The Greater Fool

TV-MA | 1 HR 1 MIN

Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by
Greg Mottola

After reading Brian's story about him in New York Magazine, "The Greater Fool: The Arrogance and Failure of Will McAvoy", Will mixes painkillers, anti-depressants and alcohol, and ends up vomiting blood and passing out. Lonny and MacKenzie find him lying on the floor of his apartment unconscious and take him to the hospital, where he's diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. As Will lies there recovering, MacKenzie wants to know why he did this to himself. Will's taken the article completely to heart-memorizing it's more devastating passages-and wants to quit doing the news.

Gossip columnist Nina Howard informs Mac she has an unimpeachable source who says Will was high on the air while reporting the death of Bin Laden. If she finds another, she'll have to go to press with it.

Sloan, frustrated at not having moved the needle on the debt ceiling conversation, tells Don she's decided to take another job offer. Don shares he plans to ask Maggie to move in with him. Despite having a terrible track record in this field, she advises Don that he's probably making a mistake. Don, impressed by her read of him, asks why she's still single. "Because you never asked me out," she replies to his shock.

Charlie meets with Hancock to let him know they can't make him the face of the NSA story because of his character issues. He asks his source to hand over the proof that TMI was hacking phones, but Hancock refuses. Instead, he tells Charlie about the beef stew he used to make for his children, whom he hasn't seen in years. Later in the week, Jim informs Charlie that Hancock committed suicide by jumping off the Queensboro Bridge.

Even after Mac, Jim and Charlie bash the article, Will won't want to return to work. Charlie brings in Will's surly nurse to tell him about her 96-year-old aunt, Dorothy Cooper. She lives in Tennessee and for the first time in 75 years, won't be able to vote because of new voter ID laws. The nurse wants to know why she hasn't seen this story on the news. Will figures out that Nina's first source is a voicemail he left for MacKenzie when he was high. Inspired, he pulls out his IV and tells the nurse he needs more information about her aunt; he's going to tell her story. He returns to the newsroom and the staff prepares to uncover the lies that have been spreading throughout American politics.

At dinner with Lisa, Maggie confesses she believes Jim came looking for her the night he got back together with Lisa. Lisa storms out of the restaurant and Maggie chases after her. Maggie is then splashed by a passing 'Sex and the City' tour bus, prompting her to scream that Carrie Bradshaw doesn't embody the typical city woman: She does. And sometimes the typical city woman falls for her coworker when they're both with someone else. Jim, on the tour to learn more about Lisa's favorite show, disembarks and chases after Maggie. He catches up to her and they kiss in the street. Maggie goes to home to tell Don off, and finds the apartment covered in flowers and candles. Don asks her to move in, just as Jim calls her phone-she ignores his call.

In a meeting with Reese and Leona, Will cops to being high on the air. Leona immediately fires him, but Charlie and Mac reveal that Reese only knows about this because he's been hacking phones. Charlie produces an envelope he received from Hancock to prove it. Leona looks to her son incredulously, and Reese admits he's been committing a felony, if only to stay afloat in a competitive market. After producing a tape recorder, Charlie agrees not to bring forth the evidence in exchange for TMI killing the story about Will, and AWM killing TMI. And they're going after the Tea Party-hard. When Leona tells Charlie she doesn't negotiate this way, Charlie assures her it's no negotiation. Before he leaves, Leona shares some advice for Will, "Don't shoot and miss." She opens the envelope from Hancock and finds a recipe for beef stew.

With Will's return, Sloan decides to remain at News Night. She tells Will that "The Greater Fool" is an economic term for the kind of person who believes he can succeed where others have failed-and that the country was made by them.

Will goes on the air that night, but instead of discussing the S&P downgrade of the U.S. Treasury or the Dow's worst day of trading in three years, he leads with the story of Dorothy Cooper. He then pivots to discuss the fact that Tea Partiers would call him a RINO-a Republican in Name Only-but he has another term for them. With their denial of science, belief in scriptural literalism, fear of progress, need to control women's bodies, tribal mentality, and pathological hatred of the government, he considers the Tea Party, "The American Taliban." "And," he ends his broadcast, "The American Taliban cannot survive if Dorothy Cooper is allowed to vote."

On the internet troll message board, Neal pretends to be the hacker who threatened Will, hoping to smoke out the real one. This prompts a hundred new death threats, forcing Lonny to stay on.

Will tells Mac he thought he saw her in the audience at Northwestern the day he went off on the college student, and she reveals that it was indeed her. Will realizes that the student is waiting in their conference room at that moment. After unleashing a tirade on her for ruining his life, he asks why she's there. She tells him she's applying for an internship because she knows what a greater fool is and she wants to be one. He makes her ask him her "idiot question" again. She asks, "What makes America the greatest country in the world?" Will responds, "You do."