The Newsroom (2012–2014): Season 2, Episode 7 - Red Team III - full transcript

In the aftermath of ACN's Operation Genoa report, the staff who put it together face some serious blowback, not just when the government responds but also when the sources' credibility comes into question.

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I need some kind of sign from you. I need an indication,
- some kind of indication, that you... - What?
...fully understand the stupidity of this.
- I do. - Doesn't feel like it.
How would you like me to behave?
It feels to me... I have to say, it feels to me like you think this is nuance,
that you think there are layers that have to be explored.
Why do you say that?
Well, for one thing, there's four lawyers in the room
billing out at, I don't know. I'm sure you're worth it.
And you've been here five days. This is your fifth day.
But that's my point. Why do we need lawyers who are worth it?
Why do we need lawyers? Why do we need lawyers?
- You're being sued. - And you're saying that like it's not insane.
You're saying that like it isn't...
Tell me what I'm missing.
A producer comes up from DC.
He wants to make a name for himself in New York.
He chases a story that's not there. And the story, it's not a kitten up a tree.
Chemical weapons, sarin gas on civilians.
He cooks an interview. He takes a pair of scissors to raw footage.
Of a man on the street?
Of a retired, three-star Marine general.
We go to air. 48 hours it takes for the story to come undone
and with it Atlantis Cable News.
ACN is brought to its knees.
The producer's surgical strike is discovered and the producer is fired.
Does he write an open letter to the New York Times,
apologizing to the public, his colleagues,
the three-star general, and the US Armed Forces?
No, he sues us for wrongful termination.
And I need to know, I need some kind of sign from you, Rebecca,
because you're obviously, all four of you,
you can't be stupid and afford haircuts this good.
I need you to tell me that this is exactly as insane as it is.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to infuriate you.
- Why? - Because it is nuanced.
He cooked an interview. He took pruning shears to the raw...
Rebecca, if he doused the studio in kerosene
and lit a tiki torch, it wouldn't have done as much damage as Genoa,
so where is the complexity? Where is the nuance?
His claim is he's a scapegoat.
- That's his claim? - Yeah.
I understand why he'd feel that way, because it was entirely his fault.
And if it was entirely his fault, then it's not at all anyone else's.
It was not at all anyone else's.
That's where the plaintiff disagrees.
And if Dantana was being offered as a sacrifice to the gods...
- Oh, Rebecca. - And it was an institutional failure
- that led to the airing of Genoa... - I'm gonna eat this table.
And he is paying the price for mistakes that were made above him.
This isn't an original story, Don.
- He cooked... - That's the nuance.
The nuance is he's gonna leverage the public's inexhaustible love
of big shots falling down.
Charlie, Will, and Mac.
I know how this ends.
Why is it called a red team?
- The blood cells. - Hmm?
White blood cells attack an infection, red blood cells clean it up.
You have a group of people investigating a story, they're the white team.
Other people are purposely kept out of the loop
so that when the white team is ready, they can...
- Fresh eyes. - We're supposed to poke holes in it.
- And were you able to? - Were we...
The first red team. You,
Jim Harper, Sloan Sabbith.
Was anyone able to poke holes in it?
No. Other than the made-up interview, it was a solid story.
I'm just asking if you were able to poke holes in it.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. What does it matter?
It matters.
It matters because there were holes in the story, right?
- Yeah. - Now, Don, a ton of them, right?
- We didn't see the holes because... - Ah.
That's institutional failure, right?
You don't have to answer that. In fact, don't.
I can.
First red team meeting was seven months ago.
Charlie wants more evidence.
Second red team meeting, you have Stomtonovich now.
- Charlie still wants more evidence. - That's not diligent?
Third red team meeting, you have Valenzuela now
and Charlie green-lights Genoa.
And I'm asking you, other than the cooked tape, Mrs. Lincoln,
were there any holes in the story?
- Yes. - But you didn't find any of them.
We found all of them.
And I grant you it would've been better
if we found them before the story aired.
- You'll grant me that. - He digitally remastered an interview.
That is the all of it. That's it. There was no institutional failure.
Where was the third red team meeting?
Where did Charlie give the green light?
It was right in this room.
This is an interview with Gunnery Sergeant Eric Sweeney,
the first member of the Genoa crew to come forward.
It was recorded in September of last year.
The third red team meeting, red team three,
we were all walked through the evidence again.
One, Jerry gets a tip from Cyrus West,
a retired Air Force captain who had just appeared on News Night
in support of drone strikes.
Cyrus West is known among people I know as a guy with ambition.
What kind of ambition?
Congress, Dancing With the Stars, I don't know.
But you have to take what he said with a salt lick.
Did you warn anyone about that?
I couldn't. I wasn't in the loop.
You also weren't in New York.
I was in New Hampshire with the Romney campaign at the time.
- Why? - I was covering for our embed,
a guy named Ben Furusho who'd hurt himself.
- How'd he hurt himself? - Ben?
- Yeah. - Mark is asking did he hurt himself
saving people from a burning building?
No, he got drunk and tried to jump
from his second-floor balcony into the pool at the Nashua Holiday Inn.
Were you the only one available to cover for him?
No.
Were you the only one qualified to cover for him?
No.
Who made the decision you should cover for him?
- I did. - You sent yourself to New Hampshire?
I think you know what these guys are getting at.
There is a woman I work with.
Maggie Jordan. We don't have to make this excruciating.
You had a relationship with a coworker.
It wasn't a relationship.
You had something with Maggie,
but she was living with Don and your heart was a little dinged up,
so you wanted to get out of town for a while
and that's why you weren't available to do your job,
which at that moment included saying to MacKenzie,
"Don't trust Cyrus West."
What is it Jerry's counting on?
That you guys don't want stories like that made public.
Go back to red team three.
Genoa got on the air because I was distracted?
Go back.
One, Jerry gets the tip from Cyrus West. The tip leads him to Eric Sweeney. That's two.
Here's the Sweeney interview.
Would you say your name, rank, and your last billet?
Gunnery Sergeant Eric Sweeney.
Before my discharge, I was stationed with a MARSOC unit in J-bad.
That's Marine Special Operations Command in Jalalabad?
Yes, sir.
Have you ever heard of a black op called Genoa?
Yes, sir.
Did you participate in that black op?
This was maybe the hundredth time I'd seen the Sweeney interview.
Intel had location on two Marine POWs
who'd been separated from their unit three days earlier
during a firefight in the Hindu Kush.
They'd been smuggled across the border
and the Pakistani Taliban intended to sell them
for propaganda purposes.
What does "propaganda purposes" mean?
They were gonna be publically beheaded.
And if we didn't get them before they were moved again, we'd lose them.
Operation Genoa was an extraction.
A MARSOC unit flies in on a couple of Black Hawks
and grabs our guys, but the first unit was overrun
and the second unit, the story goes,
dropped sarin gas.
Suddenly I'm tripping over people screaming.
Boils and burns on their bodies. Some of them passed out.
What did you think was in the missile?
I wasn't sure, but I didn't have time to think about it until we were out of there.
So later I'm talking to the crew, I'm asking about the weapons package.
Why'd the white phosphorus do that?
And the guy said it wasn't the Willie Pete.
I said, "What was it?" He said, "Sarin."
Will was the only one in the room who hadn't heard the story before.
I looked over to see what his first reaction was going to be.
And the guy said it wasn't the Willie Pete.
I said, "What was it?" He said, "Sarin."
There was no expression.
Cyrus West, Eric Sweeney, that's one and two.
The tweets from Hamni8 were three.
Four was Leon Deit and the NGO report.
Five was Charlie's source who handed over the helo manifest.
This is a list of every weapon the Black Hawks were carrying,
or at least one of the two Black Hawks.
MX-76.
Five munitions experts say there's no such thing.
It's what you write in that spot when your payload is codeword-classified.
That's the sarin.
Charlie's source was our fifth piece of evidence.
Were you happy with the evidence so far?
- Was I? - Yeah.
Rebecca, I run our website. I'm not an investigative reporter.
Yeah, I'm just asking how you felt about the evidence so far.
I'm not qualified to judge the evidence.
You were on the Genoa team?
- Yeah. - You were put on the team?
- Yes. Yes. - Neal.
Don't ever fucking say out loud
that you are unqualified to judge the evidence.
- Wait... - Don't ever say it again.
I was absolutely qualified to chase the Hamni8 tweets,
- which was my job on the team. - I get that. You get that.
They get that. Let's quit while we're ahead.
Five was Charlie's source with the helo manifest.
Six was Stomtonovich.
At the time of Genoa, we still had sarin gas. Is that right?
- Yes, we did. - You're sure of this?
We had sarin gas at the time of Genoa and we have sarin today.
According to the OPCW, the US was scheduled
to have completed its destruction of chemical weapons by 2007.
The US missed that deadline.
Stop the tape, please.
What are we gonna do about the basketball game?
We'll blur it out.
Why was the interview conducted in front of a game?
- He wanted it on. - Why not move his chair?
I wanted the Marine paraphernalia in the shot,
but to get that, I couldn't frame out the screen,
which I knew I could take out later. Is this important?
Still no reaction from Will.
Stomtonovich was six and then Valenzuela was seven.
I conducted the interview with Lance Corporal Herman Valenzuela
on August 22, the day before yesterday.
- Here it is.
Did you use gas on the mission?
Valenzuela, the crew chief on board
one of the two MARSOC helos, confirms everything we've been told by West,
Sweeney, and Stomtonovich,
all of which is consistent with the tweets from Hamni8,
the Leon Deit report and Charlie's source with the helo manifest.
The presentation is over
and Will's just heard everything for the first time.
This is what's been happening for the last 11 months.
Yeah, I had a hunch.
You did?
I heard the same story.
That came as kind of a shock to everybody.
Like Charlie's source, Will was only able to identify
him or her as reliable and in a position to know.
At that moment...
I know what you're gonna ask and it doesn't matter.
Sloan, at that moment, did anyone in the room...
You've got everyone, you've got the president of the news division,
the editor and anchor in chief, the EP,
- senior producer, staff. - It didn't matter.
Did anyone at that moment think to ask
if Charlie's source and Will's source were the same person?
It didn't matter.
- Did anyone... - It was already a go.
Will's source was just extra.
It didn't make you feel more confident that Will had heard it, too?
- Yes. - Did anyone ask?
No.
How many more times did you review the evidence?
I'm not sure.
We went through the whole thing maybe four more times.
I'm ready to say go.
You know how I feel.
- I'm convinced. - I'm not.
- I know. - Mac.
Tell me why.
It just doesn't feel right.
11 months of reporting versus your gut? I'll take the reporting.
- I'd take Jim's gut. - Me, too.
You worship at the altar of logic and reason.
And I don't believe this many people could keep something like this a secret.
- Well, they didn't. - Jerry, I know these guys.
Due respect, Jim, but you fetishize these guys.
Two million men and women in the armed services.
You were embedded with a couple of units.
- You know a few of these guys. - Hang on.
I don't think it's fetishizing to admire people
who signed up to fight a couple of wars that neither one of us
wanted to dirty our hands with, but I do give them the benefit of the doubt.
I gave them the benefit of the doubt, too, until I saw pictures
of what's-her-name doing the "get this" pose
next to prisoners in dog collars wired to car batteries.
It doesn't feel right?
We've tortured, drowned, wiretapped, renditioned, and suspended due process,
but you think we drew a moral and legal line someplace?
- Are you one of the Andrews Sisters? - All right.
It doesn't feel right because...
It doesn't feel right because I was the one leading the team.
I'm sure that's not what Jim was gonna say.
No, it's exactly what I was going to say.
What's your concern with me?
My concern is that I don't know you.
Well, that's a lame reason.
No, right now he's being paid to be skeptical.
I didn't show up one day.
I've been working at the DC bureau for eight years.
We may be the ugly stepsister, but it worked for you, too, Charlie.
- Don. - When Jim doesn't feel good about a story,
I take it seriously.
But I have another concern which Mac and I talked about last March.
- Do you remember this? - Yeah. Safety.
Isn't there a chance we're putting soldiers in danger?
- Yes. - Even rioting.
Plus the "get this" pictures with the dog collars
was the single best recruiting tool al-Qaeda's ever had.
You're saying don't run a story about the use of chemical weapons
- because it might be dangerous? - I am.
But the chemical weapons, they're not dangerous?
I'm saying the needs of the many...
It's the protests that we should be worried about?
I also think we should consider there's an election going on.
You think we shouldn't run it until after November?
I think we should wait until we're sure.
We are sure. You just don't like the story.
"It is illegal to develop, produce,
"otherwise acquire, transfer directly or indirectly,
"receive, stockpile, retain, own, possess, or use
"or threaten to use any chemical weapon.
"Any person who violates section 229 of this title
"and by whose action the death of another person is the result
"shall be punished by death or imprisoned for life."
That's not the Geneva Conventions, that's US federal law.
Whose case are you arguing?
I'm just making sure we know what we're accusing these guys of.
Who, by the way, rescued two Marines while taking heavy fire.
If these guys are charged, there could be riots here at home, too.
- God, Don, just stay in your house. - Okay.
Will?
He sat there a long time before he said...
I trust Charlie and Mac.
All right, we're going.
Lock it down.
15 seconds. Stand by roll-in.
- Stand by. - Standing.
- G118. - Standing.
- Ready roll-in. - Here we go, Will.
And roll in.
We've been at war with al-Qaeda and its allies for over 10 years.
War demands sacrifice. Sometimes of liberty, sometimes of livelihood
and sometimes of life.
But does it require us to abandon the principles
for which we're fighting and inch by inch resemble more the enemy we fight?
As Alfred Adler once said, "It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them."
This is ACN Reports and tonight we tell you the story of Operation Genoa,
a made-for-Hollywood tale of a daring rescue mission.
It's to you to decide if the mission was a success.
Our report begins with a firefight in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush
that separated two Marines from their pinned-down unit.
Go three.
The mountains of the Hindu Kush have been violent tribal areas
since before Alexander the Great marched through Persia on his way to India.
On one dangerous night in March 2009, two young Marines were on patrol...
Intelligence they were gonna be smuggled across the border by Pakistani Taliban.
- And what else did the intelligence tell you? - There was a ticking clock.
We knew they were gonna be sold for propaganda purposes.
- Sold to al-Qaeda? - Yes.
- In a matter of days? - Hours, really.
According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons...
Ready 17. Stand by 19 through 22A.
Standing.
But we sat down with a Marine three-star general,
an expert in chemical weapons with knowledge of Operation Genoa.
At his request, we blacked out his face and electronically altered his voice.
Go 17.
According to the OPCW,
the US was scheduled to have completed its destruction
of chemical weapons by 2007.
The US missed that deadline.
They extended it to 2012 and they missed that deadline, too.
At the time of Genoa, we destroyed at least 87%...
We asked if any exceptional measures were used in the operation.
Exceptional measures were called for.
We asked if sarin gas was used.
We used sarin.
A crew chief from the operation speaks to us
when ACN Reports returns right after this.
What are your duties as crew chief?
I'm in charge of the crew and the equipment.
Do you oversee the loading of the helicopter, the payload?
Yes, during preflight, I'd be responsible for the payload.
...being roughly 7,500 tons of sarin.
The Pentagon declined our request for an interview.
For everyone at ACN Reports, I'm Will McAvoy. Good night.
Are you here for a call?
Congratulations?
General Stomtonovich. Charlie, he's screaming.
He says he never said they used sarin.
It's on film.
- He says he never said that. - It's on film.
- I knew this would happen. - It happens all the time.
These guys get cold feet or someone at the DOD begs them to recant.
What's he saying we did?
Edited him out of context.
- Did you tell him we have the raw footage? - Yeah.
Raw footage isn't edited out of context.
- It isn't edited at all. - I told him that.
- What did he say? - He said he was gonna kill me.
Did he say it the way Mac says it to me or did it seem like he meant it?
- I mean it when I say it to you. - He was very upset.
Tell him I'm gonna go right now to look at the raw interview again
and that he can look at it with me if he wants.
All right.
- We knew things were gonna happen. - Yeah.
Chemical weapons expert wants to kill me. I make the worst enemies.
Seriously, I'm a perfectly nice guy.
People are celebrating out there.
- Yeah, I'm coming out. - Who's playing?
The California Golden Bears are hosting the UCLA Bruins.
You'll watch anything, won't you?
Yeah.
Why are there two clocks?
One's the game clock and one's the play clock.
The game clock is showing how much time is left in the quarter
and the play clock shows how much time is left to get off the play.
They only have a certain amount of time to complete the play?
They only have a certain amount of time to start the play.
Don't have that rule in soccer.
They don't have any rules in soccer.
That's why you think a game that ends in a zero-zero tie
- is a gamely fought match. - It's called nil-nil.
I was trying to keep it from being worse.
I was helping you out.
Do any other sports have enforced pacing? Does baseball?
No, pitchers commonly go for a sandwich between pitches.
Golf, you can be penalized for slow play.
Hockey, you can hang onto the puck for as long as you want,
but before too long a guy named Lars is gonna hurt you.
Basketball has a shot clock. You've got 24 seconds
to put up a shot, or in college it's 35.
Tennis, you can lose a point for slow play.
- Listen. - Yeah.
Should we be worried about the Stomtonovich call?
- It's on film. - Okay.
I'm gonna look at it again now.
Go Bruins! Beat the Golden Bears.
Beat them as hard as you can. Beat them with impunity!
- You have no idea what you're saying. - I know.
- We thought the DOD would have... - I thought.
I thought the DOD would have a response on their website by midnight.
But by 6:00 a.m. we hadn't heard anything yet.
- Come on in.
Excuse me.
- You guys have met? - We have.
- How are you? - Good, thank you.
She says she never heard Stomtonovich say it happened.
- Then that's what it is. - Even in her condition?
- Hmm? - You'd take her word for it in her condition?
In the condition she was in when they did the interview?
She's not in a condition, and yes, I'd take her word for it.
If she wasn't sure, she'd say she wasn't sure.
On the witness stand, that's not gonna sound like honorable loyalty.
It's gonna sound like you're willing to believe anybody
as long as you slept with them.
This is the very last polling data taken before the polls open tomorrow.
Who's gonna win?
The President will be reelected.
But Tulsi Gabbard's gonna win in Hawaii's second.
She'll be the first Samoan in Congress.
And Kerry Bentivolio is gonna take the seat vacated by Thaddeus McCotter,
who came out with my pick for the best resignation statement of all time.
"The recent event's totalities of calumnies, indignities and deceits
"have weighed most heavily upon my family.
"Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth
"among the ruins of their US House office,
"for the sake of my loved ones, I must strike another match,
"go start anew by embracing the promotion
"back from public servant to sovereign citizen."
Sounds like he and his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
are about to take a journey by sea to ask the Duke of Verona for his most kind blessing.
I like you, Keefer.
My trust in Maggie
has nothing to do with anything but the right things.
6:00 a.m., you hadn't heard from the DOD.
7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., nothing.
- Maybe they hadn't seen the show. - They see the Internet.
This was Monday morning, September 10.
Yeah.
You had another story creeping up on you.
Nobody knew that yet.
Everybody below the producer level has to take a shift doing the book.
That morning it was Neal's turn.
What's the book?
Neal.
It seems like it's my turn more often than it should be.
Man up.
I'm always manned up. That's my default mode.
Then go into ultra man mode.
The women here couldn't deal with my ultra man mode.
Probably not. Are you gonna take this?
- It's heavy.
- Intern. Come on over. - Yes?
This is the overnight book.
The night crew puts together every story and every press release from everywhere.
Go through this and separate it into four piles,
knew that, didn't know that, don't care, and Shakira.
- But that one's just for me, all right? - Neal.
- There's no statement yet. - I know.
It's the Pentagon.
Is it possible they've responded in a secret corner of the Internet?
Secret corner of the Internet?
Slay a dungeon wizard to get the keys to Mordor or something?
- It's not possible. - Something that we need that Dumbledore...
- Listen to yourself. - I know, it's getting worse as I go on.
- And it didn't start in a great place. - Nothing in the book?
Well, there are gonna be a ton of things
in the book, but not from the Pentagon.
I thought on the off chance someone got a quote from them.
- We'd know about it. - Obviously I'm grasping at straws, Neal.
There's no call to be patronizing.
- You're right. - Thank you.
- Well, you're not, 'cause Mordor... - I'm not the expert.
You don't say.
Do the book and don't just farm it out to an intern.
I'm delegating.
- Fast Nationals? - Right here.
Just tell me if the number begins with a three.
- It doesn't. - 2.9?
2.7?
5.8 million viewers.
- Shut the fuck up. - That's gonna double
when they add live-plus-same-day and live-plus-seven.
- Jesus Christ! - Congratulations.
Congratulations, man!
Tracking looked good, but not like this.
That's an I Love Lucy number.
Yes.
Yes. What?
Don't worry about the call from Stomtonovich.
I'm not.
I am a little bit and I'll tell you why.
He didn't sound like a guy with cold feet. He was certain of what he said
and he said it to me three times the exact same way.
There was one camera, no cuts. He's not a young guy. It all happened fast.
He's thinking about the size of it for the first time now.
Yes. Yeah.
The size of it.
A new story creeping up on us?
The morning of September 10. The day after the broadcast.
It was Neal's turn to do the overnight book,
- but he staffed it out to an intern. - Jenna Johnson.
Are you talking about Benghazi?
Anything?
Jerry Brown's challenged Chris Christie to a race.
Sponsored by HeartBlast,
a new defibrillator company from the people who brought you...
Piers Morgan and Rihanna had a Twitter fight about her haircut.
I'll give you $100 if you go pitch that to Will.
I know you're not gonna think this one's important, but it is.
- Star Magazine... - Nope.
...is reporting that a palace source confirmed that Kate Middleton is pregnant.
- That's news I want to hear. - You just did. Anything else?
Lady Gaga showed a lot of cleavage
- at an after-party for the Paralympic Games. - Put that one aside.
- Oh, and Terry Jones the Florida pastor? - Yeah.
He's screening the trailer to a movie called Innocence of Muslims.
- We thought... - I thought.
I thought, everyone thought
that when the DOD posted its response, it would be vague.
"Pentagon doesn't comment on classified operations,
"but we have serious problems with the story
"aired by Atlantis Cable News last night." Something like that.
You know the reason it was taking them so long to respond?
No.
They were bringing a lawyer into the Pentagon press office.
- Pentagon counsel? - And another lawyer.
Matlock?
The Attorney General. They weren't fucking around.
We knew there'd be pushback.
But not like that.
"We are considering any and all legal remedies
"available to us including under the Espionage Act.
"In the interim, we will begin declassifying documents
"to prove the falsity of ACN's claims."
If I'm a lawyer in that room, I don't write that response unless I'm sure.
We were sure.
Still? It's noon, Monday.
Charlie got everyone together in the conference room.
He polled everyone to see if they were still standing by the story.
People were resolved.
Jim had already said his piece.
His job was to support Mac now, and that's what he was doing.
At the expense of good advice?
He'd given his advice.
And Charlie, Mac, and Will had given their instructions.
Of course they pushed back. What do we expect them to...
"Well, you caught us. Bravo to you, sirs.
"We'll walk ourselves over to Leavenworth now."
You know at some point at Little Bighorn, I'll bet Custer led a unanimous vote
where everyone said, "I still think we can win."
Then came Elliot's show that night.
You know, Elliot was really the only guy on the team
who hadn't gotten dirty with Genoa yet.
So we dropped dirt on him.
Go.
The second MARSOC team dropped sarin?
- Yes. - You're sure?
- Yes. - That's why you wore the MOPP suits?
That's why we wore the MOPP suits and that's why civilians died.
That was another clip from last night's ACN Reports,
the startling and provocative story of the extraction of two captured Marines.
Joining us by satellite from Trenton, New Jersey,
is former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Eric Sweeney,
a member of the MARSOC team that executed the extraction,
which was codenamed Genoa,
and I should say the first member of the team to step forward and tell his story.
- Welcome, Mr. Sweeney. - Thank you.
Let's start there. What made you come forward and speak to the press?
I wish I could say it was honorable. It was a guilty conscience.
- Guilty that... - I knew what we'd done.
"Any and all legal remedies." Is that something they usually say?
They said it when the SEAL released his bin Laden book.
- They haven't charged him. - The Espionage Act?
Do you know how many journalists have ever been tried under the Espionage Act?
- None. - Good.
'Cause you wouldn't make it in jail, Don.
I'd survive, but you wouldn't. In fact, I'd thrive.
How do you figure?
- Shawshank.
I'd do everybody's taxes and invest the warden's money.
What are you gonna do? Produce their nightly news show?
- Is this our sound or his? - His. We're good.
We want to be a force multiplier
where one of us can do the work of several infantrymen.
"The charge that US Special Operations used sarin gas is absolutely false."
I don't know. Absolutely? Why not just say "false"?
"Absolutely" sounds like the kind of word you use...
This isn't like the time Chip left you a message in eighth grade
and you and your friends did a lab analysis to figure out if it meant he liked you.
Chet was his name
and sometimes boys are vague with their messages.
Was that the first time
that you had to perform a medical procedure in action?
Move him back to Genoa when you can.
We have advanced combat medicine as part of our training.
The first time I had to use it, we were on a mission to pay some tribal leaders...
I don't know what he's talking about anymore.
We hit two IEDs and my Humvee blew apart
and three of us sustained TBIs, traumatic brain injuries.
And I was dragging a friend of mine...
Did he say "us"?
He said "the three of us." Traumatic brain injury. He said that.
- TBI? - I heard it.
Sergeant, did you say that you sustained a traumatic brain injury?
- Well, it wasn't serious. - Get out.
- Did you disclose that information to the... - Get out!
Okay, we've got to go to break,
but we're coming back with Eric Sweeney, a MARSOC on Operation Genoa.
This is Right Now.
I saw it.
There's a problem with the story.
I know.
All right.
Thank you for coming in the middle of the night.
And I'm sorry I'm late. There was a deer on the Merritt Parkway.
The deer ran across and the car two in front of me hit it.
- Was everyone all right? - Yeah.
Mac.
Why didn't we know about the TBI?
Everybody listen, okay? Believe me, I cornered him...
We knew he had two Purple Hearts.
I got him on the phone in Trenton as soon...
Just back up. We'll do this step by step. He had two Purple Hearts.
The medical information is sealed and classified.
He told us one is for a shrapnel wound in his left shoulder
sustained during an ambush during his first tour in '08.
- The second is... - The second, he told us,
was for a stab wound in his leg he got while trying
to subdue an angry teenage militant in Kapisa Province.
That's the one he was lying about.
The second Purple Heart was for the TBI.
- He showed us the knife wound. - I asked him about that, too.
He got it in his kitchen trying to open a CD.
He didn't tell us about the TBI because he didn't think we'd believe his story.
Isn't that another way of saying
he wanted to tell the Genoa story so badly he lied?
Well, so why would he lie about a story that wasn't true?
What's the biggest effect of a TBI?
- I get that it's memory loss. - It's memory loss.
And it's dizziness and speech deficits.
We didn't see any of those in the hundred hours we spent with him.
I don't understand. So at least he doesn't have
all the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury?
GI Jim, what percentage of soldiers taken to Walter Reed have a TBI?
- A lot. - It's 30%.
So we're not gonna listen to a third of wounded vets?
We made this one a key witness in an accusation of murder.
He lied about an injury
and the injury's number one symptom is memory loss.
Bring him up from Trenton.
I'll do a pre-interview myself and if I'm satisfied,
I can put him through a direct examination on the air and clean this up.
Yeah, and can I just remind everybody Sweeney's not our only witness.
We've got Stomtonovich and Valenzuela.
Two more witnesses, only 50% of whom are recanting what they said.
Stomtonovich can recant all he wants.
We have the unedited tape and Jerry and Maggie were there.
Mmm-hmm.
For the record, I wasn't.
Wasn't what?
I was sent out of the room before the interview started.
- Good. Let's get it all out now. - Why?
You and Charlie told him it was going to be Jerry.
You didn't tell him an AP was coming along.
He had had me investigated, but not Maggie, so he didn't feel comfortable...
- You were the only one in the room with him? - Yeah, I was.
- And I see what's happening here. - Nothing's happening.
Can I bring something else up?
We aired the story 27 hours ago, so, yeah, now's the time.
We aborted the interview with Sweeney tonight.
- I did. - Uh, I did.
- Should you have? - I don't know.
I was suddenly in a position where I was asking questions
I didn't know the answers to about our own story.
If it hadn't been our own story, wouldn't you have kept going?
"Did you disclose that to the Genoa producers?
"No? You lied? How has a TBI for which you received a Purple Heart..."
Yes, he would have kept going. I shut him down.
- It was live air. - That doesn't make us look great.
Looking great wasn't one of their options right then.
Everybody knock it off!
Sister Mary Mother of God.
We have a problem. That's all it is.
We're not gonna have a fucking scrum!
What do we have? What?
A retired Marine general started getting calls from his buddies.
"What the hell is going on?"
His voice was altered. His face was blacked.
There are six people who have the information he has
and generals don't have dumb friends.
What else?
A witness who once had a concussion.
- While saving other people's lives. - Thank you.
- That's not... - Jim, while being courageous.
And he was courageous again stepping forward.
Kids used to lie about their age to get in the Army and fight in a war.
That's what Sweeney did here.
How much of what you're saying do you believe right now?
60%.
I thought it was in the mid-80s. You pulled it off.
Experience.
You need to talk to Deep Throat.
I'm on the first shuttle to Washington.
- Have you talked to him on the phone? - We don't talk on phones.
- How about your guy? - We talk on phones.
He's asking have you talked to your guy?
- An hour ago. - And?
He says stand by the story.
We go back over every inch starting right now.
By 8:00 tonight, I want Will to be able to say we stand by it.
And when he says it, we stand by it.
Break 'em into teams.
Had you realized yet at the time of that meeting
that Sweeney and Stomtonovich weren't your only problem?
Who says they weren't our only problem?
Right. That was an example of a leading question.
A leading question suggests its own answer.
When did you stop beating your wife, right?
We never established I beat my wife.
We never established you're married.
- I'm not. - Yeah.
I'm not following you, Rebecca.
MacKenzie had realized at the time of the meeting
- that Sweeney and Stomtonovich... - There's no way.
- There's no way. - Jim, listen to me.
- There's no way Mac's to blame for this. - Valenzuela was your third witness.
I have seen lawyers do some things in my life. Jesus.
Just listen.
First red team, you have Sweeney, you don't go to air.
Red team two, you have Sweeney and Stomtonovich, you don't go to air.
Red team three, you have Valenzuela now and Charlie green-lights it.
Valenzuela was an important witness.
Yeah.
And?
What if I led him?
- Valenzuela? - In his pre-interview.
I've read the pre-interview transcript 100 times.
I read it 1,000 times, but I've just read it again
and I have to wonder if I inadvertently led on that witness.
- You didn't. - I can make the case that I did.
Look at what's good on the story.
Stomtonovich, he didn't like the report. Sorry, but we've got him on film.
Sweeney, he wants to be heard
and he thinks he'll be discounted 'cause of the TBI, so he lies.
And by the way, if I had a traumatic brain injury
and knew that information couldn't be discovered
unless I volunteered it, I wouldn't volunteer it.
I have a source. Is it POTUS? No. It's better.
What would it take for you to tell me the source?
Someone would have to be torturing you.
That's sweet, but...
- Charlie has a source. You trust Charlie? - Of course.
And we have Valenzuela.
There is much more about this story that's good...
And I'm saying what if I led Valenzuela?
I objected to that in courtrooms for years.
I know what a leading question sounds like.
Then you know I asked them.
You have to ask them in these situations.
The guy... He was reluctant. He didn't want to talk.
Read the first line on page three.
We have a three-star general who's an expert in chemical weapons."
We have a three-star general who's an expert in chemical weapons.
Do you think he's lying?
There was a video camera on a tripod to record the pre...
What if he thought the camera... What if he thought the interview might get...
You know, and he doesn't want to call a general a liar?
- That's nuts. - It's not.
He came to us. He didn't want Sweeney to stand alone.
And if Sweeney's wrong, then I gave the wrong information to Valenzuela.
Valenzuela's whole interview was goosed by the information that came before it.
Sweeney says everyone was wearing MOPP suits.
He told you that?
What if Sweeney's got problems and what if Valenzuela's his only friend?
Look at line 303.
I don't want Sweeney to stand alone.
He doesn't raise one original fact in this interview.
Read it again.
By the end, it's a recitation of everything he's heard from Sweeney and from me.
You need to sleep.
A garage?
- Seriously? - They still work.
This place can't afford security monitors.
What brings you to Washington, D.C.?
- We're having trouble with the story. - No shit.
Tell me one more time we got it right.
You want to see some pictures of David?
- I'm sorry? - Do you want to see some pictures of David?
- Who's David? - David's my son, Charlie.
Is there a problem with the story?
There he is. We're moving him into his dorm at BU.
And here he's home for Thanksgiving.
- Shep. - Hang on.
That's on the Cape. We rent a house in August.
Here's a picture he sent me his first day interning at ACN.
And there he is, first day home from rehab at Sierra Tucson.
And this one's from his funeral last year.
Jesus, Shep.
I know, I took a picture at a funeral.
That's crazy, but it's just for you.
They call it heron now.
Like the bird, just a little heron.
I didn't have any idea.
You hired him as a summer intern on his 90th day.
Three months is a landmark in that world.
Three everything... Three days, three weeks, three months, three years.
Who the fuck knows why?
- Are you sure you don't want to sit? - We're in a garage!
We can go somewhere.
One of your people, Charlie, one of your people...
One of your people fired him and you didn't stop it.
I wish, man... I wish you'd talked. There's an explanation.
You didn't stop it.
He was a good kid. He was a smart kid and a worker.
He was a 19-year-old junkie, but he was clean 90 days.
- Our social media guy runs the interns. - Neal Sampat.
- David... - Whose name you didn't know.
...was posting... Is this something you really want to hear?
Yes. From you, badly.
- I never knew anything... - He posted something on the Internet?
- Look. - Yeah?
A couple of years ago, News Night got a new EP and the show...
Boy, is your wife...
Linda is my ex-wife.
The show took a turn and what?
David posted things about it on the Internet he didn't like.
Things about...
- He was politically engaged. - Mmm-hmm.
- Neal... - Neal Sampat.
Neal warned him he can't do that and he kept on doing it.
- I'm sorry. - You didn't step in.
He deserved to be fired.
How many stories have I given you?
There was a moment a while back I thought about having you killed.
Then I thought, "What does Charlie Skinner fear more than death?"
"Sit back, wait for your moment."
Then Jerry Dantana starts calling MARSOCs about Genoa.
The helo manifest you gave me.
Hold it over light for 20 seconds.
So that happened.
- Are you kidding me? - No.
Are you kidding me with this story?
No, this is all...
All terribly true.
- There are protests erupting in Cairo.
March 2, 1955.
A young black woman is arrested
for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Alabama.
Civil rights leaders and the ACLU rush to her side
and she will be a symbol of the struggle against segregation.
Her name is Claudette Colvin and she's 15 years old.
She's also unmarried and pregnant.
Civil rights leaders and the ACLU decide that Colvin
is not the best foot forward and stand down.
Eight months later, Rosa Parks happens,
but during that eight months, a brilliant and charismatic young minister
gets the attention of the community and is chosen to lead the bus boycotts.
If Claudette Colvin doesn't get pregnant,
if they'd gone in the spring instead of eight months later,
Martin Luther King is a preacher you've never heard of in Montgomery.
I've got a few hundred people outside the embassy
- and so far it's peaceful. - That's what I've got.
- Which embassy? - Ours.
What are they protesting?
Is anybody getting through to Cairo?
I've got the front desk at the Shepheard Hotel. It's a couple blocks away.
He's saying that people have been streaming toward the embassy for about an hour.
- Is he saying how many? - He thinks a couple of thousand.
- Thousand? - A poli sci professor at AU in Cairo
says that a Salafist leader named Wesam Abdel-Wareth...
He's like the Glenn Beck of Egypt and he's the president of a television station.
He put out a call to protest a movie called Muhammad's Tribe.
Why are they at the American embassy?
Apparently it's an American movie, but we can't find it.
Wait a second.
What's the name of the pastor with the mustache who's crazy?
- Terry Jones. - Yes.
He announced yesterday that he was screening a movie.
- I can't remember the name. - Innocence of Muslims.
Is it possible it's the same movie?
Who is Giuseppe Zangara?
I don't really know. He's a guy with a gun who fired five shots in February 15, 1933,
killing the Mayor of Chicago.
Why? Because Zangara was standing on a wobbly chair.
And the Mayor of Chicago wasn't his target.
It was the guy the mayor was shaking hands with,
the newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt.
If Zangara's chair isn't wobbly, Roosevelt never takes office
and we swear in his running mate, John Nance Garner,
a man whose political ideology was the basis for his opposition to a package of legislation
that would be called The New Deal and we don't survive the Great Depression.
It's the same movie. Innocence of Muslims.
He changed the title to get Muslims in to see it.
There's a mash-up of it on YouTube.
Does it seem offensive?
To filmmakers at the very least.
Okay, AP has just reported, "Egyptian Islamist protestors angry over film
"scale US Embassy wall in Cairo and tear down flag."
- The American flag. - I understand that now.
- Jim, this thing's starting to move. - They breached the wall.
They've got a link to their website
- with a message. - I'm on their website.
"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts
"by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."
They're apologizing for the movie?
2,000 people just hopped the wall, man. I'd apologize for whatever they want.
- I wouldn't. - Congratulations.
We'll have video of the flag in about five minutes.
They took down our flag and replaced it
with a black flag and in Arabic writing it says...
"There is no God but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God."
I hope our apology was sincere enough.
You want a job as the guy who answers the front door of the embassy right now?
We're gonna need more bodies on phones.
Who are we talking to? Does London know anything?
London? When was the last time you slept?
I've been busy standing by Genoa. What about you?
I have no problem standing by it.
You were well trained.
Guys, another demonstration's broken out.
- In Cairo? - In Libya.
Outside our consulate in Benghazi.
Your kitchen faucet has washers.
They keep water from leaking through the joints in the fixtures.
And that's what O-rings do.
They're giant washers that keep pressurized hydrogen
from leaking out of the SRB, the solid rocket booster,
that shoots the space shuttle out of the Earth's atmosphere.
These O-rings have been tested and tested
under every possible circumstance but one, cold.
They didn't test to see if the O-rings worked when it was cold.
Why would they even think to test for that?
The thing's launching from south Florida. When's it gonna be cold?
On January 28, 1986,
a cold snap dragged the overnight temperature down to 18 degrees
and it turns out the O-rings stopped working below 40.
So 73 seconds after the Challenger lifts off,
it converts itself into a bomb and detonates.
An American's dead. Don't know who.
- Staff member. - Consulate staff.
- All this statement says is... - Statement from who?
Libya's Supreme Security Committee.
"One American staff member has died and a number have been injured."
- What's his name? - We don't know.
I want to stop hearing that answer soon. We have 90 minutes to air.
- Mac, did you want to look at this? - Not this second.
- They're not releasing names. - Names?
- They have more than one? - I don't know if that was the implication.
- Mac. - It's just an LED readout, right?
Yeah. We put it on brackets on the prompter
and I've got it on remote from the control room.
A segment is 3 minutes and 50 seconds
and you don't have to be in his ear at the end of a segment.
He'll appreciate that. Just leave it here.
I'll show it to him and find out what neurotic superstition he has for not using it.
Copy.
Muhammad. Muhammad the bastard, your lady summons you.
My lady? My lady?
Don't finish it.
I'm watching you.
What would a military response be?
First Marine FAST, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team.
They've got... Right, they've got platoons.
- In Spain. - Rota, Spain.
That's still 12 hours, right?
- Jim would know. - Where is he?
He and Don are huddled up working on something.
So sometimes it's just the one thing.
He lucked out. He wouldn't have been able to do it
if there had been action in the frame.
Were any exceptional measures used in the operation?
Exceptional measures were called for.
- Like what? - We used sarin.
It is right. It is moral and necessary to use any...
We used sarin.
It is right. It is moral...
Exceptional measures were called for.
Like what?
We used sarin. It is right.
It is moral and necessary to use any means
in that situation and the situation they were in.
You forgot about the shot clock.
Mac.
Hey, easy does it.
The shot clock jumped from 19 to 3 to 2 to 14.
He said it, Mac.
How do you not understand what you've done?
He said it before we were rolling.
- But I couldn't get him to repeat it. - We have to retract it.
- He said it to me. - Do you understand this?
- Did Genoa happen? It happened. - That we invented evidence
- to support a story of a war crime. - It happened.
Maggie was there. She heard him say it. She's just fucked up.
A war crime.
- Yeah, it's a war crime and it happened. - No one...
We went into Iraq because he had these things. We don't torture,
- we don't use chemical weapons. - No one...
I wouldn't have done this on any other story and I wouldn't have done it unless I was sure!
...is ever going to believe us again.
I think I shouldn't say anything more until I've talked to a lawyer.
- You're fired. - I know.
We don't think the protests in Benghazi has anything to do with the movie.
- We don't think it's a protest. - What do you think it is?
- A planned, coordinated attack. - A terrorist attack.
- He's got a source at State. - We've used him.
He saw an e-mail at the operation center to White House, Pentagon, and FBI saying
Ansar al-Sharia is claiming credit for the attack in Benghazi.
Will, the movie might just be a coincidence.
It's not a movie. Avatar is a movie.
How bad is this thing?
- Oh, it's bad. - It's really not at all good.
You have been nothing but bad news since you raised your hand at Northwestern.
Don and Jim have a source at State that says he saw an e-mail.
Ansar al-Sharia is saying they did Benghazi.
May have nothing to do with Cairo and it's a 9/11 anniversary attack.
What?
Mac?
We have to retract Genoa tonight.
All of it.
A half an hour later, we retracted the story.
That was our top story, not Benghazi.
On Benghazi we didn't trust the source at State.
We didn't trust anything anymore.
We reported the same thing as everybody else
even though we knew we were probably wrong.
Protesters, angry over an amateur American movie denouncing Islam,
attacked the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, today,
killing a State Department officer.
While in Cairo, demonstrators stormed the walls of the United States Embassy.
On the anniversary of 9/11...
We just stopped being good at...
Genoa was a real mission. It was successful.
Sweeney was right about the MOPP suits,
just wrong about the reason they were wearing them.
It was in case the militants had biological weapons.
The white phosphorus was only laid down to mark the target.
Hamni8 didn't die in the raid.
His prepaid cell plan ran out.
It was an institutional failure.
Bullshit.
We'll call the election tomorrow and then resign.
She's on her way over. We're meeting her upstairs.
I'm sorry, Will. I really am.
I wanted this to go another way.
We both knew it wasn't gonna.
Did she seem mad?
Hmm?
When you talked to her on the phone.
It's after midnight. You think we got her out of bed?
You did not get me out of bed. Good night.
I just paid $1,000 to see Skyfall
and attend a party at the Museum of Modern Art.
The proceeds are going to the Tribeca Film Festival.
- You know why? - To support the arts?
- To meet Daniel Craig. - Did you?
Hurricane Sandy and the airports.
- He wasn't there? - He was not there.
You look like Daniel Craig. Get up.
Oh, you look less like him now. Sit back down. And what about you?
Why so glum, sugarplum?
We're gonna resign, Leona. It's what has to happen now.
Elliot Hirsch, Sloan Sabbith, Terry Smith, Dayside ACN, ACN.
We understand the integrity of the news is more important...
Than one individual. That is beautiful.
Not as beautiful as Daniel Craig.
- Leona. - I'd have sent my plane.
- I'd have sent my plane. - We're not fucking around.
You will resign when I fire you out of petty malice and not before.
- Our trust numbers are... - Yeah, they're bad.
They're fatal.
Firing Jerry was obviously the right thing to do,
but it wasn't enough and we've known that for two months.
Charlie and I have to go.
- And Twiggy over here? - It was my fault.
McMac. Can I call you McMac? Doesn't matter, I'm gonna anyway, McMac.
- Your head's up your ass. - Mrs. Lansing.
Guy comes in here into my hizzy...
Guy comes in here, cooks an interview, no remorse.
30 lawyers vet the story, it goes on air.
You, I don't know what you'd do to Sherlock Holmes this thing.
I wouldn't be able to figure it out and I'm the smartest person in the room.
Well, I wouldn't go that...
Oh, shut the fuck up, you Daniel Craig wannabe.
I don't want to be Daniel Craig.
Well, you should want to be Daniel Craig. Everybody should.
Leona, are you stoned?
You know, my makeup lasts a long time.
- Oh, jeez. - Mrs. Lansing.
No, no, please, call me...
Continue to call me Mrs. Lansing.
- Leona... - Guy comes into my house
which I love.
Which I bet you guys didn't know.
But I love it. I love ACN.
You don't make me a nickel
and you cause headaches for the divisions that do,
but you make me...
You make me so proud.
God, guy comes in here, cooks an interview,
and this ends up with... 'Cause he's unemployable
he gets a $5 million settlement and the three of you leave?
Oh, I don't think so.
And McMac.
That's a name that's really starting to grow on me.
She doesn't have to go. Nobody's ever heard of her.
But she's gonna do the honorable thing.
And what's expected of me, huh?
Not to do the honorable thing? What's expected of me?
No, I do not accept your resignations.
And Jerry Dantana's not gonna get one fucking dollar.
I got some kick-ass courtroom outfits.
You have to accept our resignations and you have to settle.
He'll take it to trial and win.
There was an institutional failure and he was the only one fired.
Then you'll need a good lawyer.
Lee, don't accept their resignations.
I already wasn't accepting their resignations, Becca.
Don't horn in on my honorable thing.
God, I mean, can't a lady have...
Leona, we don't have the trust of the public anymore!
Get it back!