Here it comes indeed. Klebanow is over to Gus's desk as fast as his cloven hooves can carry him. He asks whether the horrible rumors are true about Gus cutting Templeton's beautifully crafted lede. Gus concedes that they are, repeating the policy that anonymous quotes leading off coverage of public events are verboten. Klebanow wonders if maybe they could discuss this before any city editors make any rash decisions they might later regret. "Actually, I did discuss this," Gus says, loudly enough for others in the newsroom to hear. "I discussed it with the Metro Editor and he agrees. Now, the story's on the copy desk, and as a line editor working the story, I feel that I've done my job. Now you, as the ME, you want to go another way, you can pull the story back and re-edit. But we have a sourcing policy here, and I know it. And I do not feel comfortable bending the rules in this instance." And having cut the legs out from under Klebanow, Gus bids him good night. And that's how you make sure that meddling higher-ups don't undo all your edits.
By the way, if you were to ask me, from my vantage point as a media professional, what the biggest challenges facing the journalism industry are, I would come up with a Top Five list headed by: out-of-town ownership without a stake in the area a newspaper covers; that same out-of-town ownership placing an overemphasis on profitability precisely because they're not local and therefore care little if a city they don't live in is served by a world-class paper; the pressures of the twenty-four-hour-news cycle; the rise of the internet, making most papers out-of-date by the time they reach your doorstep; and internet-based reporting that can hone in one specific subject and hand a more broadly-focused paper its lunch. I could probably come up with ten or fifteen more things, but I don't wish to bore you anymore than I already am. The point is that, among the things threatening the newspaper business as we know it, Serial Fabulists Who Make Up Quotes In Every Story wouldn't crack my Top 20 -- yet, if this season of The Wire is anything to go by, Serial Fabulists Who Make Up Quotes In Every Story is the greatest threat facing our nation, since this is the one thing we keep going back to week after week. It rings false to me -- the exact opposite of how the show's earlier looks at everything from police to government to schools to unions felt. In those storylines, I feel like the show really got to the heart of the matter on how those institutions can fail; eight episodes into this season, I feel like all we're getting is a guy penning his "Fuck you" letter to people who pissed him off years ago. This storyline is the unsightly pimple on an otherwise great show. And so long as it continues to be that way, I'm going to keep writing that until someone yanks away my keyboard. Note to any editor contemplating this: I'm surprisingly scrappy when cornered. ["We'd have a fight if I didn't agree with you completely." -- Wing Chun]
Say, is there a show going on? Let's get back to the action. McNulty is slumped on the couch of his still Beadie-free home when his cell phone rings. It's Christeson, the rookie, calling to thank him for the under-the-table resources McNulty kicked his way: they helped Christeson put his case down. Indeed, there's a handcuffed gent in the background who looks decidedly unthankful about McNulty's intervention. Anyhow, McNulty tells Christeson that he's welcome, and hangs up. That thanks will be of great comfort the next time Barlow comes up and demands first class airfare to St. Moritz so that he can get in a little skiing before the springtime.