'Madam Secretary' explores 25th Amendment episode

The fictional White House in "Madam Secretary" will provide viewers with a crash course in the implementation of the ...

Posted: Jan 11, 2018 1:56 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2018 1:56 PM

The fictional White House in "Madam Secretary" will provide viewers with a crash course in the implementation of the 25th Amendment -- the mechanism for removing the president from office -- in the CBS drama's next episode, titled "Sound and Fury."

If it sounds like the show's writers are copying reality -- and specifically, reports about staffers frequently discussing the amendment's invocation in Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" -- they maintain that reality is, in part, imitating them.

The episode, in fact, was written and shot in October and November, long before the release of Wolff's book. The title is derived from a well-known quote in Shakespeare's "Macbeth," with the "sound" referring to a believed sonic attack on an American embassy -- itself mirroring what is alleged to have happened in Cuba -- and the "fury" describing the response from President Dalton, played by Keith Carradine.

Specifically, President Dalton is convinced the attack was perpetrated by the Russians, and threatens a response of "overwhelming force and ferocity." Fears associated with the Commander in Chief's escalation of hostilities with another nuclear power prompt his Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni), and other members of the cabinet to discuss the drastic step of using the 25th Amendment to avert a crisis, leading to a fairly detailed discussion of its mechanisms.

In the course of the debate, McCord's husband, played by Tim Daly, notes that despite the strength of the U.S.' constitutional system, the government is ultimately "only as good as the people in charge."

Series creator Barbara Hall noted that the specter of the 25th Amendment has been "in the discussion and atmosphere for a while, but nothing like what's come to the forefront now." She added that unlike, say, "Law & Order," "We're not doing 'ripped from the headlines.' We're doing 'ripped from the future headlines.'"

Watched by about 9 million people a week, "Madam Secretary" seeks to represent a spectrum of viewpoints, and tries to stay ahead of the curve in terms of current events.

The goal in tackling the 25th Amendment plot, Hall said, was to offer both drama and a bit of a civics lesson -- to "show people what the process was."

Despite the polarized political environment, Hall said she rarely hears that viewers have been so angered by an episode that they will cease watching the show. An exception, she said, was when "Madam Secretary" took a clear position on climate change. (The conservative Media Research Center's Newsbusters site accused the program of engaging in "climate change propaganda.")

Hall said it can be "eerie sometimes" when a plot that the writers have conjured well in advance later arises in reality. As for the risk of alienating viewers, she said, "The biggest response we get lately is 'I wish government could be like this.'"

"Madam Secretary's" "Sound and Fury" episode will air Jan. 14 at 10 p.m. on CBS.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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