Deputy Summers arrives at the Plainsfield winter quarters and serves Tim with an eviction notice, giving him one week to vacate the premises. Tim points out that he has a 20-year-lease on the property, and Summers tells him that the lease has a public nuisance clause that gives the city council a right to end it. The deputy tells them that they'll have to take up any concerns with Mayor Archer's office. Once Summers leaves, Tim tells Joey that they're going to see lawyer Bill Logan and find out if the eviction notice is legitimate.
At the town's newspaper, the Star Courier, Mayor Sam Archer is talking to the editor, Frank Dillard, about the editorial he wrote. Frank's daughter Jill is laying out the newspaper and Archer tells her that Frank makes profit from the advertising he throws Frank's way. Frank tells him that he's made his point and Archer leaves, satisfied.
Tim, Joey, and Corky go into town and Corky says that he has business with Frank. There's a flyer up saying that Bill is going to make a campaign speech at the courthouse in a few minutes. Meanwhile, Corky goes to the Courier and asks Frank why he never prints anything about the circus in the paper. Frank tells him that they don't have the staff to cover all the local news, and Corky offers to tell him what happens. Both Jill and Frank tell him that not everyone can be a reporter, and Corky offers to learn for free. Frank tells him that he has to be honest and impartial, and Corky says that he can try. The editor gives him a job as a cub reporter.
Outside, several men mention that Bill is giving a campaign speech. Frank hears them, and he and the children go over to the courthouse. Bill asks the people to hear him out, and when two of Archer's men heckle him, Tim tells them to let Bill speak his peace. They pick a fight and Bill asks them to settle down., but one of them throws a tomato at Bill when he starts to talk about Archer's corruption. Tim punches the rioter and Summers breaks them up. He tells Bill to stop speaking because he's inciting a riot and sends everyone out. Summers tells Bill that he needs a permit to campaign, and Bill points out that Archer approves the permits.
Bill thanks Tim for his help, and Joey takes Corky and Jill back to the circus with him. Tim and Bill go to Bill's office and Bill cleans himself up. He says that Archer can make the lease termination stick, and warns that Tim is up against the same corruption that he is. The lawyer explains that Archer has the newspaper under his thumb and hasn't let them report anything about Bill, and gets upset about the whole thing.
At the winter quarters, Jill tells Corky how to write a story about a newborn baby elephant. Frank arrives to pick Jill up, and Corky and Jill go over to read him the story. Tim suggests that Frank print something about Bill in the Courier, and notes thatthere haven't been any articles about Bill. Jill defends her father, who admits that he favors Archer but not by choice. Corky figures that what Frank said early about honesty and impartiality isn't true, and Frank says that his family's welfare is at stake. Disgusted, Corky says that he doesn't want to be a reporter anymore and walks away. Frank hopes that Jill understands, but she refuses to discuss it with him.
After dinner, Frank goes back to the newspaper. He's pacing back and forth when his wife Helen brings him food since he didn't touch his dinner. She points out that Jill didn't eat anything either, and Frank says that he let Jill and Corky down. He tells his wife that he has to prove that honesty and integrity are more than just words. Crying, Helen says that he sounds like the man she married and assures him that they can start over again if necessary. Frank goes to work dictating an editorial to Helen for the Courier.
The next day, Archer visits the Courier office to deliver his editorial for the day. Frank tears it up and says that he'll write his own editorial. He says that they're backing Bill for mayor, and points out the number of small businesses that Archer has acquired through questionable tactics. Angry, Archer storms out.
As Corky and Jill return from fishing, they see two surveyors. The children go over and the surveyor explains that it's not circus land. He explains that he's been commissioned to survey the land for a dam. Corky says that he should talk to Tim, who doesn't know about the dam. The surveyor goes to the winter grounds and shows Tim the plans for a dam. He has a letter requesting the survey, which confirms that it's the only suitable site for a dam. Tim figures that the city official, Smithers, started the nuisance suit to gain control of the land. The surveyor has never met Smithers, and Tim says that they should ride into town to talk to Archer and see what he knows about Smithers.
One of the rioters places an ad at the Courier for a broken-down newspaper office and a bruised editor. The man knocks Frank down, calls his men in, and they tear up the place.
When Tim and the others arrive in town, they see a crowd at the newspaper office. They go in and Helen tells them what happened. Frank admits that he tried to speak out against Archer, and Jill hugs him. Frank knows "Smithers" as the alias Archer uses to acquire property he's defrauded from the locals. Tim explains about the dam, and they realize that Archer plans to sell the water for big profit. Frank offers to publish the letter to give Bill a chance to win the election. He warns that there's no way they can get the presses working in time, and Corky suggests that they use the circus printing press for making up handbills.
At the circus, everyone goes to work and they print a special edition handbill. With dawn coming, Frank wonders how they'll get the paper to everyone before the polls open. Tim says that he has it covered and he and the circus workers deliver the newspapers on wagons, camels, and unicycles.
Later, everyone waits at the courthouse for the vote results. Bill announces that they did it and thanks Tim, Frank, and the circus for the help. Archer has taken off but Bill plans to have him arrested. The new mayor tells Tim that he doesn't have to worry about the lease. Frank tells Corky that now he's his star reporter.
Written by Gadfly on May 31, 2017