Back in the meeting, Matt Long reports that right-wing outlets were not happy with NewsNight for daring to suggest that not all Muslims are terrorists. The ratings declined by seven percent, essentially losing the audience Will gained when he flipped out at Northwestern. Did they stop watching because they hate heroic Muslims or because Will was doing, admittedly, a "boring version of the news?" Charlie says that the broadcast was praised by such media experts as Media Matters, Think Progress, Howard Kurtz and a little publication called Columbia Journalism Review. Well! If CJR says it's good then I am SOLD. CJR is your one-stop-shop for media excellence. I hear some pretty amazing television recappers work there, so you know it's legit. Reese asks if any of those outlets advertise on ACN. Charlie, not getting Reese's point, says they don't advertise anywhere. Reese continues that it was also around this time that Will had an "epiphany" about the Tea Party.
Cut to Will in Charlie's office, looking like he hasn't shaved or slept in a few days. Will explains that he woke up at 2 AM to break down polling data from a primary race in Utah that randomly made its way through his fax machine. It turns out that Utah's incumbent senator Bob Bennett, a very conservative Republican, is about to lose the primary to an even more conservative guy named Mike Lee. Will likens what he thinks is happening with the Tea Party to how Abbie Hoffman took over the Students for a Democratic Society and turned the progressive anti-war movement into a bunch of peace-loving hippies for the next forty years. Now the Tea Party has people like Mike Lee who want to repeal the fourteenth amendment and it looks like he's going to win the primary by "double digits." By the way, Lee actually won by a very narrow margin over some guy named Tim Bridgewater that this show didn't feel like mentioning at all.
Will says he understood the Tea Partiers at first and maybe even agreed with some of their demands, but now they've been "co-opted" by the extreme right and the rest of the conservatives have to bow to their whims. "Get there!" MacKenzie says from the back of the room, startling Will who apparently didn't hear or see her come in. "Get there!" MacKenzie repeats herself. Three episodes in, and I'm sorry to report that Emily Mortimer is still not able to deliver these lines. I know Sorkin is holding her family hostage to make her be on this show and she's upset about that and all, but he has Jeff Daniels' family, too, and Daniels is really doing his best here. Suck it up, Mortimer. Will thinks we should all be "scared shitless" of the Tea Party. "My party's being hijacked, and it's happening in real time. How is this not our top story every night?" Will asks. "Thank you!" MacKenzie says. Oh, so we won't make bombing attempts and environmental disasters our top story for more than one night, but the Tea Party gets to be the top story every single night now? That doesn't make any sense to me. Will marches out, puffed up with righteous indignation. MacKenzie follows, asking Charlie if he was the one who faxed those poll results to Will in the first place. He just shrugs. He probably doesn't know because he did it while blacked out, and this is how 70-year-old journalists drunk-dial: by faxing Utah polling data to an anchorman at 2 AM.