Preposterous Universe

Friday, May 27, 2005
The Hammer: a mite sensitive

Tom DeLay is miffed that his name was taken in vain on an episode of Law & Order.
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is upset that a popular NBC crime drama used his name as part of its show.

DeLay wrote NBC to complain that one of the characters on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" invoked his name in a story line about the shooting death of a federal judge. "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt," the fictional police officer said.

DeLay, in a letter to NBC Universal Television chief Jeff Zucker, called that reference a "slur."

"This manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse," he said.

DeLay, R-Texas, criticized the federal judiciary after the courts refused to stop the death of Terri Schiavo. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," he said in a statement on March 31, hours after Schiavo died.

DeLay apologized the next week, saying he had spoken in an "inartful" way and meant that Congress should increase its oversight of the courts.

"This isolated piece of gritty 'cop talk' was neither a political comment nor an accusation," NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said. "It's not unusual for L & O to mention real names in its fictional stories. We're confident in our viewers' ability to distinguish between the two."

Creator/executive producer Dick Wolf added: "But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a television show."

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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