Monday, November 10, 2014

Episode 3.1: Boston

WELCOME BACK! Or, for the many (and I do mean many) of you who have found this blog since last season, a huge welcome. I just wish we were looking forward to more seasons to come. Oh well, let's all enjoy these last six episodes and keep them honest.

This season picks up with the ACN team just trying to get it right after their major mess up last season. You're reading this blog, so you probably know what happened last season. Let's move forward based on that assumption. If you don't, then go watch it, and read my fact checks, and then come back.

After waiting longer than all the other networks to report on the Boston Marathon bombing ACN reports about the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard. Martin became a symbol of just how horrible this event was in the days and months following the bombing. He also left behind a sister, just a year younger than himself, who now walks, and runs, on a prosthetic leg. Her story is intense and uplifting in a way that few stories can be. Especially for a girl who has just started third grade. Read more about her, and the entire Richard family, here.

The concept that a detective could have lost his job over the botched reporting by John King and CNN that the ACN newsroom reveled in is not far-fetched. King himself said that his source received "serious blowback at the leaks." This can't be confirmed to my knowledge (and I spent time scouring), and is not confirmed on the air by ACN either. We'll file this one under plausible speculation.

The entire rundown of the events of the manhunt, including the Reddit silliness (assuming The Atlantic got it right) is reported solidly. This is good, seeing as how ACN, and The Newsroom's writing team, needed to get it right this time. As far as I could tell, the timeline was right for a change. It's nice to see The Newsroom's fact checkers getting it down in their final season. We all know I haven't always been perfect at it either, but they've taken a while to even catch up to my level of imperfection. The irony of The Newsroom finally (okay, okay they've had a couple other 99% accurate shows) getting it all right during an episode dedicated to an event where reporting was constantly getting it wrong is not lost on me.

As far as Neal's storyline goes (which seems to be the overarching Genoa replacement), SIPRnet is real, but it goes by Secret IP Data now (I like the old name better), but anything else involved should be taken as fiction until you're told otherwise since Kundu is not a country.

Thanks for coming back. 5 more.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2.8: Election Night: Part 1

After a long week off, The Newsroom kicked itself back into gear for the first of two hours about the last national election. There were some things that got just a little mixed up or left out though. Those things were facts.

Monday, August 26, 2013

2.7: Red Team III

Last season the episode that needed little-to-no fact checking was the one where they covered Osama Bin Laden's downfall (coincidentally, also episode 7). This season it looks like this is that episode. It was a great episode, and while it didn't have the historical resonance that the one from last season did, it also worked to propel us into Benghazi and the poor reporting that happened throughout the country in that debacle. The way they explain away their own poor reporting in that case is perfect, and also gives an opportunity to correct it first and win back the trust of the public. But, that's just a guess.

The fact is that Will's bits of trivia are accurate, and Don's amazing quotation of the exceptional resignation letter by Representative Thaddeus McCotter is also properly represented. He resigned amid a scandal involving fraudulent petitions. The representation that 30% of soldiers treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center have Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI's) seems to be close enough to accurate based on page 28 of this study. And yes, Jim's reading of federal law regarding chemical weapons is accurate.

And finally, based on the seven-or-so minute cut-up I watched of it on YouTube the night after the Benghazi attack (it only had about 700 hits at the time, now every iteration has at least a million), the film that was blamed for causing the attack for some time was absolutely horrible. It had no value, artistic or otherwise, and I will not link to it here. If you want to watch it, just Google it.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Monday, August 19, 2013

2.6: One Step Too Many

Let's start on a part of Genoa that is in its second mention this week, MX-76, the item on the helicopter load out that seems to not have a name. First off, MX can mean a number of things, including, and most likely in this case, either Military or Missile Experimental. Charlie Skinner calls MX-76 a euphemism, but really it would just be a designation of a weapon system of some sort that would likely be classified. Could one jump to the sarin conclusion from this? Yes, but not for the reason Charlie seemed to. And, it's a huge stretch considering the United States has never used sarin. Plus, the description of the people with boils is more consistent with white phosphorous than sarin anyway (as I discussed here).

Monday, August 12, 2013

2.5: News Night with Will McAvoy

The format of this episode was interesting as it followed the various things going on throughout a single episode of News Night. It was different for the show, but it worked from an entertainment standpoint. So, how did the show fare as far as the facts go this week? Let's find out.

Monday, August 5, 2013

2.4: Unintended Consequences

Fact: The wig that Alison Pill, as Maggie Jordan, is wearing looks terrible. The reason that Maggie Jordan is wearing that hairstyle, however, is likely the most poignant and moving moment in the 14 episode history of The Newsroom. That aside, let's look into some actual facts.

There is no way, in the first few days of October 2011, that Maggie and Gary "Is that really your name?" Cooper could have followed the 100 U.S. troops that searched for Joseph Kony. The reason? Sending troops to Africa for that purpose was not even announced until the 14th of October. As usual, fuzzy timelines are used to support their plot-lines. And no, the ends do not justify the means. The 490th Civil Affairs Battalion is a real thing, and so are cattle raiders.

For the record, and you can check the links from last week, yes, death by asphyxiation is a reality with sarin gas. However, this is regularly due to the inability of the lungs to function after exposure to the neurotoxin rather than choking on one's own vomit. Vomiting is colorful and sounds violent. Simply ceasing to breath is not nearly as exciting.

This is a fairly straightforward definition of an NGO, or non-governmental organization. It's simply a global non-profit.

The Danish "Fat Tax" was real and was really repealed in November of 2012 after about one year of existence. And, the statement that Africa has 1,944 languages is Sorkinese for "about 2000."

What do you think about using the full name of Rick Perry's ranch on a newscast? Comment below or on the Fbook page.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Episode 2.3: Willie Pete

While Operation Genoa is, as a whole, fictional, the show is doing what it can to make it seem like a story that someone might chase. The part of the story I'd like to address this week is what chemical agent was used during Genoa. The description in the show of people being burned is not consistent with sarin. It is, however, possibly consistent with white phosphorus. Here I will summarize the effects of each chemical, but for a better description of sarin click here and pay special attention to the Health Effects section, and for more on white phosphorus click this.  Sarin does not cause burns or boils on the skin; it's a nerve agent. It is very deadly but burning isn't one of its properties. White phosphorus, on the other hand, has a propensity to burn anything flammable within range. Charlie Skinner revealing that using white phosphorus improperly may be enough for a war crime will likely be important later.