Thursday, November 29, 2018

REVIEW: 'Murphy Brown' - Assaults Against the Press Shake Murphy and Her Journalistic Convictions in 'Beat the Press'

CBS' Murphy Brown - Episode 11.10 "Beat the Press"

After Frank is physically attacked while covering a political rally, for the first time in her career Murphy is afraid to dispute the opposing viewpoint of a guest on her show.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of CBS' Murphy Brown.

"Beat the Press" was written by Tom Palmer and directed by Pamela Fryman

This episode features strong evidence to the perils of the words used by the president. He has declared the press the "enemy of the people." Those are horrifying words. He has delegitimized the press in the hopes of building a wall of doubt whenever an unflattering story is released. That's his tool for shutting down his opponents. He wants to create a sense that the other side is only making things up in order to distract from how well he is doing. But his words have emboldened his followers to take action as well. Here, that passion leads to a number of fist fights. Both Frank and Avery find themselves in the hospitals with serious injuries. It doesn't matter which network that employs them. They are now living in a world where it is suddenly okay to attack a person who disagrees with you. That's disgraceful. And yet, plenty of people feel empowered to act that way because they are modeling their behavior and mentality based on the person in charge of the country. The office of presidency has always been seen as the moral center of the country. With someone like Trump in the position, that means that people simply feel more free to express themselves in this way despite the horrors entailed with all of it. Frank wanted to cover this rally. He didn't fear that he would be called out onstage. He wanted people's honest reactions to what was said from the podium though. He believes he was reporting on the facts. He has always been an objective reporter. He has been in dangerous situations before. But this trip to the hospital has made him actually afraid to be out there in the field in places that are just two hours away. He may enjoy the comfort of the studio moving forward. He is welcomed back with applause there. He is appreciated when he returns home. His friends are there to comfort him. Avery even wants to do a story to try to uncover what motivated these actions in the first place. He does the right thing in getting permission from Frank first as well. He doesn't just move forward not caring how his uncle will react to what he is doing. He gets his blessing. Avery tries to understand with the hope that the image projected by his network will give him some protection. And yet, he is still punched in the face as well. He is making the right argument. He is trying to have a discussion with people. Sure, he gets enraged as well. He is going to extremes to make a point. But he's still fulfilling his role as a journalist to ask the tough questions in the hopes of getting some truly honest and illuminating answers. However, all of this shows just how corrosive these words can be to the minds of the public. It makes Murphy actually think about the power of her words and just what the consequences can be. She knows that she has a duty to call out an ill-informed person who believes that homelessness is perfectly fine and even desirable for those under bridges during the winter months. But she also doesn't attack like she is known to do because of her fears. She may not be able to effectively do her job if she believes that half the country will vilify her and try to harm the people she cares about. Corky believes she's safe because she is a responsible gun owner. That may just be false hope. It's still comforting in the moment. Murphy can still confide in her friends and family about the feelings she has. They still see the importance of this job. All of this just points out how difficult it has become to do during this current presidency.