Ripped From Which Headline, "Fed"

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 14 2009 10:56 AM

Ripped From Which Headline, "Fed"

We all know that Law & Order rips its stories from the headlines—but which headlines? Every week—at least every week when there's a new episode and June's DVR doesn't fail—Brow Beat matches L&O 's plot points to the events that inspired them.

Dec. 11, 2009: "Fed"

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 


These Are Their Stories
Nicholas Landy's body is found with the word "FED" scrawled on his chest. The police immediately suspect that he was targeted by an anti-government activist.

This Is the Real Story
According to the Los Angeles Times , "The body of William E. 'Bill' Sparkman Jr., 51, was found in the backwoods of Clay County [Kentucky] on Sept. 12, with his hands, feet and mouth bound with duct tape, a rope around his neck and the word 'Fed' written on his chest." Authorities initially considered that Sparkman, a Census Bureau worker, might have been targeted because he worked for the government. Investigators eventually concluded that he had committed suicide and attempted to disguise it so his insurance policies would pay out.

These Are Their Stories
The cops discover that although Landy worked as a door-to-door canvasser for the Rights Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit group of community organizers, he was a conservative activist who was secretly recording his work. The police find hidden-camera footage of Landy manipulating RAF workers into talking about how they might extort a restaurant chain.

This Is the Real Story
On Sept. 10, 2009, Fox News reported that "[o]fficials with the controversial community organizing group ACORN were secretly videotaped offering to assist two individuals posing as a pimp and a prostitute, encouraging them to lie to the Internal Revenue Service and providing guidance on how to claim underage girls from South America as dependents." Filmmaker James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, who, according to the Washington Post is "the eldest daughter of a conservative Christian minister in Miami," made the videos—described by the Pos t as "a major strike for conservative Republicans who for years have accused ACORN of voter-registration fraud during presidential elections"—to discredit the organization.

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