In the dog-eat-dog business of TV journalism, Jake Carlson is playing a numbers game, worried about his contract renewal while trying to please his bosses and maintain the ratings to keep him at the top. The competition is closing in, younger, smarter journalists who are ready to take over at any misstep.
With the face of TV journalism changing to meet the demographic demands of an insatiable public, Jake is in a battle of wills, demanding real news stories but forced to cover the inane antics of celebrities, tabloid stories trumping relevant news. Though only forty, Jake feels the crunch of ambitious newcomers and editors.
After the recent loss of his wife to cancer, Jake buries his loneliness in work, but his adopted son, Sam, has no such distraction. Based in New York, Jake’s frequent travels on assignment have taken a toll on the boy, the luxurious house at the beach a poor substitute for family; Sam takes out his rage and frustration on those around him.
Suspended for fighting, a tearful Sam faces his father’s wrath; belatedly Jake realizes his son’s pain, especially when Sam begs him to help locate his birth mother. Jake reluctantly agrees, oblivious to the hornet’s nest he will stir up with his investigation. Returning to Sam’s adoption agency, Jake discovers that it no longer exists, nor do any records; a virtual wall of denial exacerbates his curiosity. Methodically researching every conceivable avenue, Jake unearths some ugly truths: the possible involvement of the Armenian mob, child trafficking, and the inexplicable death of the adoption agent.
Unfortunately, Jake’s interest in Sam’s adoption conflicts with the demands of his job, his assignments on “American Outrage” absurdly banal. Refusing to cooperate with the network’s demands, the rebellious Jake treads dangerous ground. He needs his credentials to pursue the investigation but is close to losing a lucrative career.
By the time the action cranks up, Jake pursued by strangers who want him out of the way, he is on a career collision course. The more he uncovers about the adoption, the more he realizes some extremely dangerous people don’t want him in their business. Suddenly Jake’s job seems insignificant, especially when he discovers ties to a wealthy American dynasty, the Van Burens - “the Kennedys of the Hudson Valley.” Only one step ahead of the Armenian mob, the FBI and “American Outrage” camera crews, Jake is a moving target in a cat-and-mouse game.
A combination of the ugly underbelly of organized crime, the long tentacles of wealth and power and the media’s willingness to sacrifice anything, even a young boy’s secret, for an exclusive story results in a fast-paced crime drama. Revaluating his life, Jake redeems himself, although a somewhat confusing resolution fails to tie the loose ends together. For the most part, American Outrage is an unexpected surprise as this TV journalist sheds a flawed persona for the role of father and serious journalist.