There’s a new television show called Alaska Daily, starring Oscar-winner Hillary Swank as a journalist who had a falling out with her New York City employer and takes a job with her former boss, who now runs a newspaper in Alaska.’
After six episodes, the show took a multiweek hiatus but returned with Episode 7, more powerful than any of the others. Unfortunately, it was also a classic example of Hollywood indoctrination.
(SPOILER ALERT: I’ll recap the plot here in detail.)
Eileen Fitzgerald (Swank’s character) is the ideal journalist: courageous, gritty, relentless, with an abundance of honor and integrity, and eminently objective. She’s everything a reporter ought to be – which makes her so far removed from today’s reality.
In Episode 6, the one before the hiatus, the audience is left with a cliffhanger: an apparent lunatic who calls himself ‘Concerned Citizen’ stalked Eileen from the start of the season, sending her threatening texts and phonecalls. By Episode 6’s end, he’s got her in the office at night, at gunpoint, and Eileen pleads: “please don’t do this.”
Episode 7 opens as Concerned Citizen explains to Eileen that she has to pay for all the “liberal crap” she writes; when she asks him for an example, he becomes angry and defensive. We learn that Gabriel, another employee, is hiding in the archives room and texts his colleagues – who are at a bar across the street – about what’s going on.
Frenzied-paced investigative reporting ensues, combined with help from the police, and Concerned Citizen is identified as Eric Barry, a disgruntled unemployed oilman who lost his job because of environmentalist activism. Turns out Eric gets angrier and angrier as he listens to the daily rants of conservative commentator Dennis Gibson.
One of Eileen’s colleagues, Roz, visits Gibson and explains Eileen’s life is in danger because of Gibson’s inflammatory rhetoric.
She further informs Gibson that Eric’s media handle is Oilman223, and that he messaged Gibson with the following question: “What is a man supposed to do while people like Eileen Fitzgerald twist facts to turn the great state of Alaska into another woke mess like California?” Roz reminds Gibson that his response was: “Take action, Oilman223. Reporters like Eileen Fitzgerald are a spreading cancerous sore that requires excising.”
Gibson instantly becomes defensive, insisting that he was “only speaking metaphorically. When I talk about action, I mean political action.” Roz, disgusted by Gibson’s unwillingness to take responsibility, replies: “I don’t think Eric got the nuance of that.”
Do you see where this is heading? According to the show’s creators’ worldview, Eric’s an angry white man who feels kicked around by society, whose frustrations are exploited by the likes of rightwing talking heads like Gibson, and Eric is incapable of distinguishing between literal and metaphorical commentary.
Translate: “Fight like hell” as Donald Trump directed his followers to do on January 6, 2021 is clearly what led them to storm the Capitol, and it’s undeniably Trump’s fault because he wasn’t clear enough that he meant fight vocally, not physically.
Gibson agrees to call Eric and talk him out of his plan, but Eric refuses to buy it: “They got to you, didn’t they,” he concludes.
Eventually a sniper fatally shoots Eric and Eileen lives to continue the season. As the episode closes, we hear her voicing the words to an article: “Last night, a man broke into the newsroom…and threatened to end my life because he didn’t like the way I did my job. I was shocked, of course. But sadly, I was not surprised…Physical attacks on members of the press have risen dramatically in recent years.”
Now pay careful attention here: “One only need to turn on the TV to understand why. It’s become fashionable for people in power, right up to those in the White House, to delegitimize print journalists by calling what we write fake news and designating reporters as ‘enemies of the people.’ There are armies of talking heads and bloggers, in the mainstream and on the fringe, echoing that message, not just demonizing reporters, but dehumanizing them, too. These attacks put a bullseye on our backs, and if we don’t stand up against this as a society and remind our harshest critics that liberty depends on a fair and free press, the bullseye will wind up on the back of democracy itself.” Wow, what a powerful message this episode sent to nearly three million impressionable viewers. Half of it was accurate: that ratings-driven rightwing commentators use inflammatory rhetoric (ones on the left do too, by the way), which influences throngs of gullible masses to channel their inner Paul Revere and literally take up arms. The “I don’t think Eric got the nuance” line is the clincher. As is the idea that the most delusional conspiracy theorists, even when confronted with logic by their own heroes, think someone “got to them.”
However, Alaska Daily quite irresponsibly leaves out the other half of the story. It completely exonerates the mainstream media, portraying them as saintly protagonists whose objectivity is beyond reproach. They’re all like Eileen, who is a mythical newsroom superhero.
There’s no mention of all of the hacks who work for once-respectable publications that have long become barely worthy of being used to line birdcages.
I’ve long said Democrats didn’t ‘steal’ the 2020 election. They didn’t have to. But it sure was rigged. Rigged in the sense that they’ve got a monopoly on Hollywood and can run episodes like this one at will, harvesting oodles of new Democrat voters who are taught absolutist concepts like right is evil and left is good.
Alaska Daily may be filmed in color, but it’s message is as black and white as can be. If only the show’s creators had Eileen’s ethics.