The Los Angeles Police raid a house that is supposed to be the headquarters of the SMM, a homegrown terrorist organisation. They find clues that the group plan to kidnap a newspaper man at a convention in Palm Springs. Charlie Hume is supposed to chair that convention, and Lou finds great pleasure in needling him about it. Unfortunately, Mrs. Pynchon insists that Lou join Charlie and her in Palm Spings, where he is to chair a panel discussion on the changing role of the city editor.
Security is tight at the convention, and yet Lou discovers that someone is siging bar checks with his name. He quickly discovers that the culprit is Jack Riley, the reporter who scammed 5,000 dollars from The Los Angeles Tribune a year ago. Jack explains that he is out of a job, but that he's pretending to still be in the employment of the Flagstaff Herald. It's his intention to make a good impression on newspaper owners and get a new job. Lou also meets Lois Craig, a female sports editor. The rather macho Lou puts his foot in his mouth trying to impress her.
When the governor announces that he won't attend the convention, the reporters at the Trib believe the threat must be real. Billie happens to have gone to school with Sandra Harwood, the leader of the SMM. Perhaps she can contact the group?
Jack Riley believes a waiter at the convention looks suspicious. When he turns out to be an escaped convict, people at the convention become nervous. Jack Riley makes an empassioned speech, urging the newspaper people to face possible danger. Geoffrey Hanson, a newspaper owner, asks Lou what he knows about Riley. Lou tries not to answer.
Lou makes a mess of his panel discussion, especially as his predecessors take umbrage at his suggestion that the city desk was a mess when he arrived there. The discussion about women in the locker rooms turns into a fight between Lou and Lois.
Billie gets picked up by Sandra Harwood. They talk about old times and about the aims of the SMM. When Billie doesn't return from lunch, Art starts to worry. Meanwhile, at the convention Mrs. Pynchon asks Lou to be her date at the final dinner dance. She's trying to escape from a suitor, Geoffrey Hanson. Hanson can eventually track her down, and he states that he knows what she and Lou are doing. They're trying to avoid talking about Jack Riley, because they want to hire him. But Hanson has outsmarted them: he's offered Riley a job!
Sandra tells Billie that SMM has got what it wanted (publicity) without actually commiting a crime. The plans for the kidnapping were just planted in the raided headquarters. Billie calls Charlie to put his mind at ease. The convention ends without any incident and Jack Riley buys Lou Grant a drink.