The Newsroom Wiki

On the off chance that you're not gonna live forever, why not take a shot at being happy now?
—Charlie to Will, I'll Try to Fix You

Charles "Charlie" Skinner is the director of the News Division for the Atlantis Cable News (ACN).


War reporter[]

In 1969 he was embedded as a reporter with the United States Marine Corps. While in Da Nang, Charlie watched a beautiful woman dance in front of him. Just as he had the thought that he'd never be with a woman such as her, she fell into his lap.

In 1991 he was head reporter during the Gulf War and watched as his man on the street reported where the Iraqi missiles were landing in Tel Aviv. He believes that the Iraqis used this reporting to adjust where to fire in Tel Aviv.

Before being a War reporter he was a Marine.

News Night[]

April 2010[]

Popular Atlantis Cable News (ACN) anchor Will McAvoy damages his public profile when he honestly and profanely explains why America is not the greatest country in the world at a college debate. His executive producer Don Keefer, his co-anchor and the majority of his staff eagerly take the opportunity to abandon his 21:00 News Night program for its 22:00 counterpart. Charlie is in the minority of people impressed by Will's candor. He sees an opportunity and hires MacKenzie McHale as McAvoy's replacement Executive Producer. She has a fractious romantic past with McAvoy and Skinner notes that the last time that McAvoy was happy was when McHale was in his life. McAvoy is furious at having the relationship forced on him. However, in their first day working together the pairing deliver an incisive report about the potential for environmental disaster following an explosion at the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Charlie is thrilled at the results of his machinations. ("We Just Decided To")

Mac proposes "News Night 2.0", a complete overhaul of the way the news was covered based on three "I"s: 1) Is this information we need in the voting booth? 2) Is this the best possible form of the argument? 3) Is the story in historical context?

Charlie calls in Reese Lansing, the network president and a ratings expert. Charlie tells him to stop advising Will about ratings because he doesn't want the ratings for the new format of the show to affect the content. ("News Night 2.0")

May 2010[]

Charlie anonymously faxes polling data from the Republican party in Utah to Will. The numbers cause Will to realize the Republican party is being co-opted by the ultra conservative group. He meets with Charlie and passionately argues that this is a massive story and they should be covering it. Charlie and MacKenzie agree and over the next six months News Night runs a range of segments about the issue. ("The 112th Congress")

November 2010[]

Charlie is hauled over the coals by ACN President Reese Lansing and ACN owner Leona Lansing for the new direction that News Night has been taking. They subject him to two and a half hours of ratings analysis showing that the show has lost 7% of its viewers since the increased after Will's outburst at Northwestern University. Charlie defends the decisions made by the staff even when they are characterized as responsible for draining ratings. The show's repeated negative coverage of the Tea Party is a particular point of contention.

Leona is irked by her network alienating the rising political powers among the Tea Party because of their potential to influence her business. Reese has the ratings expert, Brad, link the show's coverage of the issue to declining ratings. Charlie argues that it is their duty to expose shortcomings and prejudice among their leaders. Leona warns him that she will fire Will if the problems persist. Charlie shields the News Night team from the ire of the corporation. ("The 112th Congress")

January 2011[]

A succession of gossip columns are published about Will's personal life in early 2011. Charlie calls Will into the office on Saturday January 8, 2011 because Nina has published an expose of Will on the cover of TMI. While trying to do damage control from Will's week of debacles, Charlie figures out that it is Leona Lansing (who own's TMI) setting Will up in preparation for firing him over attacking the Tea Party. ("I'll Try to Fix You")

February 2011[]

Charlie warns Will and Mac about another TMI piece, this time about Mac's relationship with Wade Campbell and him using News Night appearances to further his political ambitions.

The following day ACN's own morning show covers the TMI story about Mac, until Charlie angrily warns the presenter to stop. Neal introduces Amen to the team via video chat and Mac convinces him to use his real identity to ensure that his reporting is credible. Charlie, Mac, and Will continue to discuss the attacks by gossip publications but Charlie does not mention the pressure from Leona Lansing.

News Night covers civil unrest in Cairo after the Egyptian president refuses to leave his post despite losing the election. Elliot Hirsch travels to Cairo to report from the scene but is forced to remain inside when riots break out. Elliot eventually tries to get footage outside but is attacked and injured. He returns to the US and News Night recruits "Amen" as a stringer to get footage of the riots. Don is annoyed when Charlie insists that Elliot take time off to recover. Amen performs well on the show but then disappears.

Charlie hosts a crisis meeting and the senior staff go to demand help from Reese Lansing, who proves to be out of the building after Don tries to knock down his door. Neal discovers that Amen is in Egyptian military custody and that they are demanding an extortionate ransom. Will pays for Amen's release. ("Amen")

April 2011[]

Will conducts a disastrous interview with Sutton Wall, the homosexual former Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Rick Santorum. He ends the show by reading out website comments lauding Will's attack on Wall. Will is chagrined and decides to introduce a registration policy for website comments to remove the safety of anonymity from commenters.

Will interviews Phylis Greer about the building of a Muslim community centre at Ground Zero in New York. This is quickly followed by Will receiving a death threat from someone who has hacked into the site. Greer, and the hacker, were vehemently against the idea. Charlie insists that the threat be passed to Will's insurance company and they assign Lonny Church as a bodyguard.

Sloan Sabbith is given the opportunity to stand in for Elliot Hirsch on the 22:00 show and cover the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Sloan asks Will for advice before going on air and he harshly criticizes her for letting interviewees get away with lying on air. She is disappointed with her guest for sticking to the company line, and more so with his translator, who she feels is misrepresenting her words. Despite warnings from Don Keefer, Sloan announces information she had obtained off the record live on air. Charlie is furious with Sloan for crossing reporting boundaries and suspends her with pay. Will feels responsible for provoking her reckless act. Charlie later comes up for a way to Sloan to save the reputation of Tanaka; she has to lie on air and say that she made an error in translating what he said. She is dubious but Will tells her it is the best thing to do and she acquiesces. ("Bullies")

May 2011[]

At the one-year and one week anniversary of "NewsNight 2.0", Skinner is called by an unknown source who wants to prove his credibility by telling him that in 90 minutes the White House will ask the crew to get to work for an announcement by the President. Sure enough, the WH press office tells the team to go to the office. Even though the reporters receive one confirmation that bin Laden was killed, Skinner waits for a second source, recalling the days in the Gulf War when his camera crews were unknowingly helping the Iraqis pinpoint missile targets. Will, who is high on marijuana, does not see that Joe Biden sent him an e-mail which confirms the kill is bin Laden.


Behind the scenes[]

Charlie is a major character in the first season. He is played by starring cast member Sam Waterston and debuts in the series pilot "We Just Decided To".


Season 1
"We Just Decided To" "News Night 2.0" "The 112th Congress" "I'll Try to Fix You" "Amen"
"Bullies" "5/1" "The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn" "The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate" "The Greater Fool"
Season 2
"First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers" "The Genoa Tip" "Willie Pete" "Unintended Consequences" "News Night with Will McAvoy"
"One Step Too Many" "Red Team III" "Election Night, Part I" "Election Night, Part II"
Season 3
"Boston" "Run" "Main Justice" "Contempt" "Oh Shenandoah"
"What Kind of Day Has It Been"