“Law and Order, SVU” vs. O’Reilly: Was Bill Smeared?

Even if you can’t stand Bill O’Reilly, you have to admit that the Fox bloviator has an entertainingly thin skin. Are you a struggling TV talking head in need of a  ratings boost? Just take a shot, cheap or otherwise, at Battlin’ Bill, and he’ll double your audience by turning red-faced and calling you a slime. This time, O’Reilly is riled at Dick Wolf, the “Law and Order” producer, who recently had a character played by John Larroquette argue on “Law and Order, Special Victims Unit” that a man who killed the children of illegal immigrants had been primed by “Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly” who were like a “cancer spreading ignorance and hate.”  This really hurt poor Bill’s feelings, apparently, and he went off on an angry rant against Wolf, calling him a coward and a liar, as well as a “far left” propaganda artist.

I guess Bill doesn’t have time to watch drama. There is no reason to believe the Larroquette character was speaking for Wolf, or even that Wolf believes what Larroquette said. Larroquette, who almost always plays flawed, bombastic, arrogant jerks, was playing a liberal archetype, that’s all. It’s called fiction. Wolf’s characters on his three “Law and Order” shows sometimes are conservatives, and sometimes they are far-out liberals. I have watched more “Law and Order” episodes than I care to admit, and I cannot detect a liberal bias to the show at all. Bill O’Reilly, not for the first time, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Lennie Briscoe, the  police detective  memorably played by the late Jerry Orbach, was a sympathetically presented conservative. So was the District Attorney played by Fred Thompson. Officer John Munch, a conspiracy theory spouting left-wing nut played by Richard Belzer, is often presented in a ridiculous light by the scripts. The liberal character who attacked O’Reilly and his friends was not especially sympathetic. Here’s a television drama rule you may not be aware of, Bill: When a writer wants to put his or her own views in an actor’s mouth, the actor can’t be Jon Lovitz, Gene Simmons, William Shatner, or John Larroquette. If the character is played by  Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks or Clint Eastwood, okay, that’s an attack. But never, never, John Larroquette.

I am amazed O’Reilly is so unfamiliar with the nature of TV fictional drama  that he got upset with Wolf based on no evidence, offense or foul. There are people who hate O’Reilly and Limbaugh, and it is fair to include such characters in TV dramas. There is nothing cowardly about it. Bill should accept this; it is part of the price of being a public figure.

O’Reilly may be a narcissistic blow-hard, but he’s not stupid. I have to wonder if he really took a fictional character’s insult personally, or whether he was just looking for an excuse to start a feud, to show old clips of himself standing up for illegal immigrants, or to fill some dead time .

Or maybe  Bill just needs to get out more.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Popular Culture

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