Monday, July 23, 2012

Episode 5: Amen

This episode is probably the best I’ve seen as far as the basic facts go, unless you consider accurate dates when events happened to be a part of the facts.

On the show, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has given his non-resignation speech on February 10th, 2011, and, at the same time reaction to this is being covered, a protest begins in Wisconsin because Governor Scott Walker has announced the “Budget Repair Bill.” The first problem is that Governor Walker did not announce this bill until February 11th, and the protests didn’t begin until the 12th. The protests did eventually grow to huge numbers although they did not reach 30,000 until closer to the 17th, and not the 14th as the show portrays. Otherwise, the events surrounding these two events are fairly accurately portrayed.

A couple other notes on the Egypt situation: The word Amen in Egyptian refers to an ancient deity known as “the hidden god.” And yes, Rush Limbaugh was really that insensitive about the capture of numerous American journalists, over a week and a half earlier than portrayed on the show, on February 3rd.  They seem to have doctored the video in to make it clear it was Limbaugh doing the talking, but the audio is accurate.

The representation of the Glass-Steagall act as one of the biggest reasons that the United States saw so much growth between its enactment in 1933 and its repeal in 1999 may be a bit of a stretch, but the facts surrounding its function are accurate.

Virginia Thomas’ $680,000 plus income from the think tank called the Heritage Foundation was updated on Justice Clarence Thomas’ financial disclosures by January 24, 2011. He stated at the time that,"It has come to my attention that information regarding my spouse's employment required in Part III B of my financial disclosure report was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.” I don’t want to add any commentary that will sway you one way or another, but I will remind you that reading and understanding basic contracts and documents are very important to being a judge.

The whole episode seemed to be suffering from a lack of a calendar but generally holds up to scrutiny for a change. If they keep getting things this close to right I might be out of a non-paying job.

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.


  1. re-scot walker -

    the above site also includes a link to the PDF of the bill Walker signed. mostly, i'm curious as to the stance the Newsroom took on "reporting" this. mainly that they didn't even mention the fac tthat the Democrats walked out of the capital and fled across the state boarder in protest to this. which was, to say the least, very childish of them. instead it chose to glorify the protestors (who were equally shipped in by unions to beef the numbers, as they claimed walker was doing for supporters of the bill) as well as deciding to make it seem like the bill was only attacking school unions when it was attacking ALL public sector unions jobs in an attempt to lower taxes. whcih went on to help wesconsin in hindsight, both in unemployment and in getting them out of a deficit.

    re-rush -

    the clip felt like it was inserted not to furhter plot but as a cheap shot at the radio host and imo as a way to get Rush to give the show free plublicity. the clip was, imo, taken out of context; as at the time i recall Rush doing that not to show he wasn't sympathetic to the journalists but to show that this "Arab Spring" was most certaintly NOT the Democratic uprising that the current administration (and this show) called it. that it was, infact, a take over by an extremist organization and should not be comended as something good.

    which brings me to my main beef of this show.

    re-Arab Spring.

    again, imo this is poor reporting on the newsrooms part. they have the blessing of hindsight, which means that (like the oil spill) they could have pointed to the truth of the situation. that the entire thing was staged by the Islamic Brotherhood (a known terrorist organistation) as a power grab. we know this now to be true. the fact that they left this entire aspect out lends less to their "credability" of attempting to be a fully news reporting show with no biased.

    though once again, i did like the attack on TMZ style "news" and teared up at the "rudy moment". that portion of the show was very touching :)

  2. You missed a big fact error, and an inflammatory implication that has no basis in fact.

    First, when leading into the protests bit, a statement was made that "Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard if workers protest against these cuts!" (or something similar, I don't have the episode in front of me." This statement is based on media reports at the time, particularly the AP and others who kept re-citing each other instead of the source quote that, "Walker said the Guard 'is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees.'" (See: What Walker actually said was:

    "In state government, we have had, before I’ve taken office, plans for contingencies no matter what the circumstances. We have updated those," Walker said. "I got a full briefing from all the major, level-one state agencies as well as the the National Guard yesterday (Feb. 10). We are fully prepared and equipped to handle whatever may occur. So we have every confidence we can move forward on that. But again, you plan for the worst, you expect the best. And I expect from the good men and women who work for state and local government that they’re going to continue to do the good, professional job they do each and every day." Referring to the Guard, he added: "They’re not called up at this point. We obviously have a whole series of circumstances that would lead to that. I’m not anticipating that, I’m not expecting that, but I want to make everyone certain in this state that I’m fully prepared for whatever may happen." When he spoke later that day to Journal Sentinel reporters and editors, Walker used the example of the National Guard helping run state prisons in the event of a strike by corrections workers. In an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie wrote: "In the unlikely event that core government services are disrupted the Guard would be used just to continue those services. That’s what the National Guard does."

    It's a big factual leap to go from "the Guard will fill in for workers if they don't show up for work," to "threats to call the Guard if there are any protests."

    The second is the implication regarding Citizens United, the recent Supreme Court decision on . While the results of the case are still up for debate (the legal blogs can't even agree on what it all means yet; time will tell), it's a big stretch to imply that the decision was 1) purely partisan and 2) intended to help only Republican campaigns after the Republicans get rid of the unions (i.e. via avenues like Walker and Wisconsin). I'm anxious to see if Citizens United is brought up again in future episodes.

    As an aside, I'm loving the show, but I'm hoping the new writing team can help balance it a bit more to be what the show itself states is its aim: "just the facts" reporting. I'm so desperate for that right now with the daily onslaught of spin from all news sources. I'd take anything I can get, even if it's via a fake television show.

  3. With all due respect to Ms. Burns, the results of and effect of Citizens United is playing out before our eyes in states like Wisconsin and Michigan as well as nationally where the Koch brothers and others like them have have dumped millions of dollars into local, state and federal elections.

    1. As far as dumping millions of dollars into elections, you are correct, Republicans have done so. As have unions, Democrat individuals (like Soros), and Democrat minded PACs and organizations ( is probably the most known, but there are multiple others). Both parties are taking advantage of the Citizens decision, so to skew it one way at this point in time (particularly in the case of Wisconsin where it has been reported that Unions outspent Republican PACs), is disingenuous (and as I said originally, a false implication). The show essentially implied that the point of the decision was to get rid of Unions. That's simply a far stretch of the facts. This is about pointing out factual errors in a TV show, not a debate about support of partisan views. Which is why I said that I'm anxious to see how it will be treated in future episodes.

  4. Dear writer of this Blog, I love what your doing, I'm a big fan of the show and the drama and then I go to your site to learn what is true and false about what they said but PLEASE, please please source your facts, it would do wonders for your credibility.

  5. I would like to ask one question regarding the accuracy of the Egyptian reporter broadcasting through SKYPE. I do remember something like that. I can even remember somebody with his face covered just like the guy in The Newsroom. Does anybody know how accurate this story is?