The revived "Murphy Brown" TV series, which stars Candice Bergen as an unabashed politically progressive journalist, headed in a predictable — and decidedly humorless — direction on Thursday night's episode.
The preachy, unsubtle "Beat the Press" storyline features one of her reporters — Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto) — brutally beaten by a "sea of red hats" at a rally for President Donald Trump and subsequently hospitalized.
Murphy and her son Avery (Jake McDorman) watched the rally on television, which showed actual rally images of Trump but used a different voice off camera to portray him.
"I hear Old Murphy's partner in crime, Fibbin' Frank Fontana's here tonight," the Trump voice said to the crowd. "Where is he? There he is. See him? That's right. Let Fibbin' Frank know what you think of him! Maybe a good body slam, what do you say?"
Murphy soon turns off the TV.
A subsequent scene showed Murphy and Avery visiting Frank in a hospital after he was beaten up, suffering broken ribs and an injured eye, NewsBusters said.
"I guess when you major in journalism these days you have to minor in kickboxing," Murphy said to Avery upon entering the hospital room.
Avery quipped to Frank, "So, I guess the takeaway here is, next time you cover a rally, hope the president doesn't give you a shout out."
"When Trump left the stage, I decided to leave the press pen and go interview some of the people," Frank recounted to the pair. "Next thing I know, I'm surrounded by a sea of red hats."
Later Avery ventures to Pennsylvania to talk to rallygoers, noting to Murphy before his departure that he should be safe because he works for a conservative news network — but then the woman who supposedly threw the first punch at Frank also punches Avery, NewsBusters noted.
In other words, Trump supporters hate journalists of every stripe — at least in the progressive world of "Murphy Brown."
Toward the end of the episode, Murphy and Frank chatted as his recovery continued, and he admitted to being scared to work as a reporter and actually compared it to covering news in Libya where Murphy remembered he was "roughed up pretty well there, too."
"But I filed that away under 'bad stuff that can only happen in another country.' But I'm home, Murph," Frank said. "This is America, and I don't feel safe here anymore."
He added, "If this is the way it's gonna be, I'm not so sure I want to do it anymore. It's a different profession. No one would ever call Huntley or Brinkley enemies of the people."
What did the creator of 'Murphy Brown' have to say?
“It was something that we planned to do from the beginning when we first went into the writers’ room in May because of the angry rhetoric that was being directed toward the press, which I found shocking,” series creator Diane English told Variety. “Then it escalated from there as we saw journalists get body-slammed by a politician and we saw the president, at his rallies, encouraging all of this vitriol against the press and CNN in particular — and even very recently saying that he would admire somebody that would body-slam a journalist.”
English added to USA Today that Trump was "the only reason I came back. … We felt that in this very unusual era we’re in in our country that there was an awful lot to say and examine. We felt like if we could do in a thoughtful and also a funny way that we could possibly contribute something to the dialogue.”
She noted that CBS “has never said no” to the program's politics and could care less if more conservative viewers are turned off by its progressive stance, USA Today noted.
“We never expected we were going to get the conservative right as an audience, so we never really tried to cater to them," English added to USA Today. "I’m not fretting about ratings. My goal is to make a show I’m proud of.”
Good thing, as the Hollywood Reporter said Thursday "Murphy Brown" will end after its initial 13-episode order.
The jury's still out as to whether they'll manage a show before then about Antifa beating up Trump supporters.