'New York Undercover': Lying in the Name of Art
Broadcast television producers like Steven Bochco will tell you that because they have to compete with no-holds-barred cable fare, their shows have to include ever-increasing quantities of rough language, sex, and even nudity. True enough, the raunchier the program, the more appealing it will be to society's lowbrows. Any sense of guilt for the harmful impact this has on an impressionable audience is lost. How else to explain "Married... With Children" being on the air for ten years?
Also lost on some of Hollywood's mavens is the responsibility to tell the truth.
This explains why Dick Wolf, executive producer of Fox's police drama "New York Undercover," aired two absurd conspiracy-oriented episodes, based on lies and slanders, during the February sweeps period. The wild accusations of Christic Institute and October Surprise zealots have long since been disproven, the radical-left agendas of their proponents exposed. Now Mr. Wolf, in the best Oliver Stone tradition, is regurgitating some of them all over again.
The January 30 episode opens with a shot of laboratory workers, all of them black, sifting white powder - crack cocaine - and filling vials with it. (One worker, visibly pregnant, is shown smoking the stuff in a bathroom stall.) Police raid the drug lab. They arrest a small-timer, who leads them to Freddie James, who according to a police lieutenant "controls half the crack in Harlem." After being arrested himself, James divulges the name of his supplier: the CIA.
One detective is skeptical of James' story, but another finds it plausible: "My father's own squad lied about the way he died. So, if you're asking me if I have a problem trusting the government, the answer is yes." Later, James is found dead in his cell. It appears to be a suicide, but it transpires that he was murdered. The CIA has exacted its revenge.
Suddenly, the federal government takes the case away from the NYPD - after all, what's a good show without a government cover-up? A white cop is furious with his black partner for his seeming indifference toward this turn of events, to which the partner sarcastically replies, "Oh, yeah, the CIA is bringing crack into Harlem and I'm ecstatic about that. My son can hardly walk down the street without being approached by some dealer or tripping over a crackhead." The white cop counters that it "doesn't mean our own damn government should be letting someone bring the crap in." And there you have it. The possibility that the allegations of CIA drug complicity are bogus is no longer worthy of discussion. CIA drug dealing is now fact.
But since truth is not a requirement, why stop there? We also learn that James was in possession of Israeli-made assault weapons, courtesy of the CIA we presume; and that he employed Renaldo, a Nicaraguan "security consultant," to train his bodyguards. When a detective calls Renaldo's nation "Iran-Contraland," Renaldo responds, "We're more than just some footnote to your country's scandals."
"New York Undercover" was back with an equally ugly installment on February 20. The opening scene juxtaposes audio of a Martin Luther King speech with footage of some very official-looking men in a motel room. One loads a rifle. Another lights a cigarette. His lighter is marked, "Department of Justice." The last sound in the scene is a gunshot.
Cut to the present, where two detectives discover "proof" that the FBI plotted to kill King. One says, "I knew [J. Edgar] Hoover wasn't a fan of his, but..." A former black activist claims that a man once contacted him, offering documentation of such a conspiracy; the documentation never appeared and the man was found dead under mysterious circumstances. A "Washington insider" tells detectives that the feds rubbed out King because he "had the power to bring black and white together. A lot of us were threatened by that." Etc., etc., etc.
Why is Wolf producing this poison, and why is Fox broadcasting it? The answer is both sociological and economic. Blacks are far more prone to believe these two conspiracy theories than are whites. Fox airs "New York Undercover," which has a multiracial cast, opposite "Seinfeld," which appeals mostly to whites. It's called counterprogramming, and it's working: "New York Undercover," despite being in the bottom third of the Nielsens overall, is the second-most-watched series in black households.
It makes perfect sense to air this nonsense once you abandon the pesky standards of truth, intellectual integrity, and corporate responsibility. The Big Lie lives in Hollywood where there's another name for it - art. I'm inclined to believe that when the wise man said, "The problem with capitalism is capitalists," he had persons like Wolf in mind.