ABC’s ‘Scandal’ Gets it Right, Finally

Throughout ABC’s political drama “Scandal,” the second season of which ended Thursday, it’s been apparent that the writers often have little to no idea how the news media based in D.C. actually works.

In one episode you have a high-profile news anchor sitting on a story that involves a president refusing to be seen until all of his hair grows back on his newly-bald head. That would never happen. Bald or not, the story would fly.

In another episode, the news media is seen waiting for Olivia Pope, the show’s main character, outside her client’s home. Pope waits until the top of the hour when all the TV reporters need to go live. She breezily slips past them. Where were the print reporters and bloggers who would also have been waiting? Apparently forgotten about by the “Scandal” writers. Even the TV reporters would have people who would approach Pope even if they couldn’t during their live shots.

But in the finale, the show finally gets it right.

Pope, who has been able to keep her affair with the married President FitzGerald Grant a secret this whole time, is shown in the final scene walking through her apartment building lobby with a satisfied smile on her face before setting out on a run outdoors. She had just quashed the biggest scandal of the season, one that would have likely ended in the impeachment of the president.

As Pope throws open the doors she’s greeted by… a snarling, voracious pack of wolves news media waiting outside. One reporter who looks like Julie Cheng asks Pope, “Is it true that you’re having an affair with the president?” One who looks like Don Lemon asks, “Are you the president’s mistress?” Another voice from a disembodied reporter calls out, “How long have you been sleeping with the president?”

This is sort of like what happened to newly-elected Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC). When he flew back into the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the summer of 2009, he was greeted by a South Carolina reporter who asked about his whereabouts and who he’d been with for the past week. (He lied about it, but later admitted he had been having an extramarital affair in Argentina.)

And it’s a lot like what happened to former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). In 2008, Edwards was caught visiting his mistress Rielle Hunter in a Los Angeles hotel. When he was confronted by the National Enquirer, he hid in a bathroom for 15 minutes.

Pope didn’t hide in a bathroom. She was, perhaps more believably, dragged away by two men in black suits into a car where she met her long-lost father.