FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Good Wife vs. Bad Congress

by WALTER BRASCH

For almost a year, the people of the critically-acclaimed and popular CBS drama, “The Good Wife,” kept a secret, one so powerful that viewers were shocked by the abruptness of what happened on screen, March 23.

Will Gardner (portrayed by Josh Charles), one of the major characters, was killed by his client during murder trial. Within seconds, even before the show’s conclusion, viewers were texting and tweeting, shocked and confused and angry and upset and sad, all at the same time. There was no hint in the entertainment media that Will would be killed off.

Charles wanted to be dropped from the show after his four year contract expired at the end of the 2012- 2013 season, but didn’t want to do anything to harm the show. So he, the producers, and writers decided to extend the contract for a 15-show arc in the 2013-2014 season that would take his character and those around him, including Alecia Florrick (portrayed by Julianna Margulies) spinning in another direction, one that would change the characters’ dynamics and interactions.

What’s amazing is not that Will Gardner was killed—several major TV characters have been killed off abruptly—but that dozens of people working on “The Good Wife,” as well as some of their immediate families, knew about it and revealed nothing. In addition to the major characters, producers, and writers, anyone involved with the filming of the episode, which concluded about a month before its air date, knew. That would be dozens of crew members, including camera operators, sound and lighting technicians, and digital editors. They knew how important it was to keep the secret. Although some might have liked to alert their favorite reporters, perhaps to get favorable personal publicity later, they did not. That’s because they are professionals.

Now, let’s contrast the cast and crew of “The Good Wife” with the cast and crew of “Washington Follies.”

There are no secrets in Washington, D.C.,—and it has nothing to do with what the National Security Agency knows or doesn’t know about Americans.

The reason there are no secrets is because the nation’s capital has more leaks than all the antiquated gas pipelines in the country. It’s good there are no secrets—but, many of the “secrets” have as much integrity as a junk bond trader.      There are “whistleblower leaks.” These come from individuals who believe that a politician, staffer, lobbyist, or a corporation has committed and then hid an illegal act, and violated the public trust.

The second kind of leak comes from individuals who have a self-interest in alerting the media to what may be scandals. These leaks could come from political candidates, elected and appointed officials, and those in corporate business who want to eliminate a competitor, but don’t want to have their hands dirtied by the revelation. Most of these leaks fall into the sub-category, Gossip. Far too often, the media take the allegations, do minimal investigation, publish their findings, but never ask the critical question—“Why are you telling me this?”

A third kind of leak is the “trial balloon.” A government official or corporate executive wants to find out what the public thinks of an idea or plan, but doesn’t want anyone to know who is behind it. Often, the media will report something to the effect, “Rumors abound in Washington that  . . .” If opinion leaders and the public like the idea—and politicians spent millions of dollars to have polls tell them what to think—then the proposal is implemented. If there’s a negative reaction to the trial balloon, the plan is locked into obscurity, and the source is exonerated from all negative feedback.

A fourth leak, a variant of the trial balloon, is the veiled news source. Reporters and politicians love this kind of leak, which takes the form of, “Sources close to President Obama say . .  .” or “A highly-placed source close to the House Speaker says . . .” Readers’ first questions should be, “Who are these people? And is the reporter just making up this quote out of whole cloth?” It’s for that reason that veiled news sources should be rarely used. But, reporters still think they should be channeling the thoughts of presidents, corporate executives, and bartenders.

Unlike Washington, D.C., where the left hand doesn’t even know there is a right hand, all involved on “The Good Wife,” from the newly-hired production assistants to the show runners, work as a team, dealing with their conflicts and solving the problems. In the nation’s capital, solving problems doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s bucket list.

For “The Good Wife,” secrecy was important to maintain artistic integrity. For the daily “Washington Follies,” secrets are just rumors and a few facts that are leaked primarily for political reasons.

 Rosemary Brasch assisted on this column.

Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and author. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth investigation into the process and health and environmental effects of horizontal hydraulic fracturing to mine gas.

 

Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the history, economics, and politics of fracking, as well as its environmental and health effects.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail