Accuracy in Media

One of the most popular drama shows on television is Law & Order. Produced by Dick Wolfe and usually based in New York, it claims to feature stories ripped from the headlines. “But instead of depicting reality,” says New York-based writer Nicholas Stix, “Wolf’s scriptwriters take high-profile crimes committed by blacks, and replace the bad guys with whites, even inventing white racist criminals that bear no relation to anything seen in New York during the past 100 years.”

Even though more than 89 percent of suspects in violent crimes are black or Hispanic, according to New York Police Department reports, Stix says that Law & Order “presents a looking-glass world in the grip of a white crime wave.” He cites a number of examples, including “Teenage Wasteland,” an episode about a group of middle-class, white kids that orders Chinese food and murders the delivery man. In real life, the delivery man was murdered by a group of blacks.

In the episode titled, “Myth of Fingerprints,” a white, female forensics chief is exposed as giving years of false testimony that has sent many innocent men to jail. Stix says the episode was loosely based on the real case of former Oklahoma City supervising forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist, who is black.

Stix, whose article about the program appears in Middle America News, cites more examples. He says Law & Order dramatized the D.C. sniper case seven months after it occurred with the shooter being a white man. In real life, of course, those arrested and charged were black. In an episode titled, “Smoke,” a famous white entertainer dangles his adopted child from a hotel room window. In real life, of course, this is based on black singer Michael Jackson. In the show, the white entertainer arranges for underage boys to accompany him to his mansion, where he would sexually violate them. That, too, seems to be based on charges made against the black singer, Jackson.

In real life, we face a problem of Islamic terrorism. So Stix notes that Law & Order aired an episode featuring a pale, blonde-haired former special forces officer who kills a Moslem immigrant he had surveilled, and whom he suspected of being a terrorist. Stix comments, “The prosecutor presents the imaginary patriot as a fire-breathing, chest-thumping, jingoist monster, even as the story suggests that the dead man really was a terrorist.” He cites other examples to prove his point that the Law & Order team “must read some interesting publications, since many of their ‘ripped from the headlines’ stories never happened, but suit any left-winger’s paranoid fantasies quite well.” He says the producers seem to have an obsession with murderous white supremacists.

Law & Order blurs the distinction between news and entertainment but claims to be featuring dramatizations based on real events. The damage is two-fold. First, people get a false view of actual events. And second, they may come to erroneous conclusions about the nature of crime. Nicholas Stix lives in New York and understands how the program distorts reality. The rest of America should take note.

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