‘The Newsroom’ recap: Investigative story may have hefty cost


In an abrupt about-face that could put him behind bars, anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) decides to pursue an investigative story using stolen government documents on “Run,” Episode 21 of HBO’s “The Newsroom.”

Will is told by ACN cable news techie Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) about a U.S. Department of Defense covert operation that sparked deadly riots in Africa.

Neal obtained this highly classified information from a whistleblower’s flash drive. Neal also committed espionage by requesting additional documents and coaching the leaker on how to retrieve them.

At first Will maintains his “News Night” program should bury the dangerous story, an approach echoed by ACN attorney Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden).


“I would love it if you guys would stop committing federal crimes,” Rebecca says, urging staffers to cease communications with the mysterious whistleblower.

“Now hand over the flash drive so I can crush it with a meat tenderizer,” Will orders Neal.

But Will changes his mind when news executive Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) and executive producer Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) defend Neal’s journalistic idealism.

“There’s no question we have to run the story,” Mac says, emphasizing that 38 people died in the riots. “We do nothing and the 39th is on us.”

Opting to get some “skin in the game” by risking felony charges, Will asks Neal for the name of his secret contact. And when FBI agents arrive with a search warrant, Will sneaks out a message to his partner in crime: “Neal run!”

Meanwhile, ACN may fall victim to a hostile takeover. Behind the power play are twins Blair (Kat Dennings) and Randy Lansing (Chris Smith), who are about to turn 25 and inherit a huge chunk of stock.


“Out of curiosity, if you were to sell the company, what would the new owners’ plans be for ACN?” Charlie asks.

“From what I understand, you can make more selling the cameras than transmitting images from them,” Blair says. “So I imagine that’s what they’ll do.”

“Lives are on the line,” exclaims ACN President Reese Lansing (Chris Messina), Blair and Randy’s half-brother. If the company is liquidated, Reese warns, a multitude of employees will lose their jobs.

Possibly coming to the rescue is Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda). She agrees to pay $2 more per share than the twins would otherwise receive.

“I’ll raise the cash and have an offer sheet to you before your birthday,” Leona vows. Now all she has to do is raise $4 billion.

Finally, ACN social media specialist Hallie Shea (Grace Gummer) gets fired for sending out a snarky tweet ridiculing the GOP.

“Republicans rejoice that finally there’s a national tragedy that doesn’t involve guns,” Hallie writes, referring to terrorists who used pressure-cooker bombs rather than semiautomatic weapons in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack.

Hallie realizes she’s had an awful lapse of judgment and takes down the post. But even though the tweet was live for just 27 minutes, it’s already been seized upon by network critics.

“ACN hits new low with hate-filled tweet,” a Web headline proclaims. The Republican National Committee demands a public apology.

Senior producer Jim Harper (John Gallagher, Jr.) informs his girlfriend Hallie that the network will announce the dismissal of a low-level staffer yet withhold her name.

But Hallie outs herself to the blogosphere by admitting she “tweeted a terrible joke” and that no one else in the newsroom was involved.

This development causes Jim to worry that Hallie will be snapped up by an employer with an axe to grind against ACN.

“I’m saying,” Jim cautions Hallie, “don’t get played.”