The Newsroom | Season 1 | Episode 6


TV-MA | 58 MIN

Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by
Jeremy Podeswa

Upset with the lack of quality and transparency in the Internet comments featured on the show, Will has Neal institute a system that will verify a commenter's real identity. Soon after, Will runs a controversial segment in which he asks an opponent of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" if she's equally concerned about violent actions undertaken in the name of Christianity. This triggers a highly specific death threat against Will from someone with the technical knowledge to hack the site. The network's insurance company determines the threat is credible enough to warrant that Will be accompanied by a full-time bodyguard, a former college-football player named Lonny.

In the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan, Sloan converses-in Japanese-with Daisuke Tanaka, an old acquaintance who is also the spokesman for a Japanese energy company. After she clears the room, he tells her that the nuclear reactor may be causing a Level 7 radiation leak, even though the company has been saying publically it's at Level 5. With Elliot and the next four options unavailable, Don asks Sloan to fill in on his show. She goes to Will for guidance and he tells her not to let anyone tell a lie on her air. Sloan takes his advice and presses Tanaka to reveal on her show what he told her on the phone earlier. After castigating his translator for misrepresenting her questions and his responses, she decides to ask him herself, in Japanese, if the radiation level will go up to Level 7. Tanaka refuses to say so, and as a horrified Don looks on from the control room, Sloan removes her earpiece and shares what the spokesman revealed earlier-and that the gap between Level 5 and 7 is "the difference between life and gruesome death." Charlie is livid at Sloan and is forced to suspend her.

With another tabloid attack on the way-this one alleging that Maggie filed a complaint with HR about Will-MacKenzie has Jim and Maggie do opposition research on Will to get ahead of any other story that may arise. The complaint was filed on Maggie's behalf by a desk producer who saw Will chew out his then-assistant for signing the flowers to a board member's widow with the phrase "LOL," which she assumed meant "lots of love." Jim and Maggie learn Fox offered Will a deal in 2006, information they share with MacKenzie. When Mac confronts Will with the fact he was going to leave the life they had together anyway, even if she hadn't cheated on him, Will produces a wedding ring he was prepared to give to her at the time. In truth, Will anticipated Mac's line of questioning and had his agent purchase the ring the day before.

Sloan's report has been making waves in Japan, and Tanaka's company fires him. Charlie figures out a way for Sloan to save face and to restore Tanaka's honor: Since the Japanese words for four and seven sound alike, Sloan is to lie on air and say she misunderstood him because she is not fluent. She looks to Will, and though it doesn't sit well with him, he signs off on the plan.

Will hasn't been getting much sleep and mucks up the end of the broadcast, thanking the viewers for "washing us" instead of "watching us." A concerned MacKenzie administers an impromptu eye exam and Will tells her he's going to see Dr. Habib, the therapist with whom he's had a standing appointment for four years-he just never goes to it. Unbeknownst to Will, Dr. Habib passed away two years ago and his son Jacob has taken over the practice. Will reluctantly agrees to let Jacob ask a few questions in the hope that the young doctor will give him something to help him sleep. Jacob presses him on the recent stresses at work, from the death threat to Sloan's on-air breakdown. Ultimately, the biggest issue weighing on Will's mind is a segment in which he berated a gay, black surrogate for Rick Santorum's campaign. Will grilled him on Santorum's views on homosexuality, and the surrogate grew increasingly agitated, before exploding at Will, "I am more than one thing, how dare you presume to decide what I should care about? I don't need your help." Dr. Habib intuits that Will is troubled because he was the bully in that situation, and Will is predisposed to hate bullies after standing up to his abusive father as a child. But that's not the reason Will hasn't been sleeping- Dr. Habib counsels Will to stop eating bacon before bed and to start seeing him regularly.