The Washington Post

Moral of Alec Baldwin’s role on ‘Law & Order: SVU': The media ruins everything.

Olivia Benson confronting JImmy Mac with his tabloid lies. But Jimmy Mac don’t retract. (Michael Parmelee/NBC)

Talk about terrible (or amazing?) timing. Two days after Alec Baldwin declared “Goodbye, Public Life” on the cover of New York Magazine — writing an article in which he skewered the media for ruining his ability to live like a normal famous person — NBC made an announcement: Baldwin would guest star on “Law & Order: SVU” … playing a member of the media.

More specifically, Baldwin would be playing a controversial New York tabloid reporter, the kind of person he has battled in real life for years. And on Wednesday’s episode, Baldwin didn’t disappoint in his role as a slimy tabloid columnist, who spoke with an exaggerated New-Yawk accent that came and went. The episode even had a very Baldwin-like ending, because the moral of the whole thing? The media ruins everything.

Baldwin played “legendary” New York Ledger reporter Jimmy MacArthur. “You mean, the legend in his own mind?” detective Olivia Benson asks snidely when told that MacArthur will be shadowing the SVU team for a profile on her. But MacArthur is granted full access from his friend, the police commissioner, so there’s nothing Benson can do.

Olivia Benson and Jimmy Mac. (Michael Parmelee/NBC) Olivia Benson and Jimmy Mac. (Michael Parmelee/NBC)

Under the guise of “shadowing,” MacArthur proceeds to torpedo their newest investigation, a rape case that escalates to a hate crime against a young Muslim woman. MacArthur decides (thanks to some unnamed sources) that it was a hoax, and declares it so in his column. His paper’s headlines read: “IT’S ALL A LIE. NO RAPE. NO ATTACKERS. NO RACIAL SLURS.” and “RAPE, LIES & VIDEOTAPE.”

Benson and team are furious that he’s wrecking their case and the rapists might go free. It gets worse when it becomes clear the jury members have all read his stories and believe that it could be a hoax — even though some of his columns have factual inaccuracies and are wildly exaggerated.

“They all read your columns Jimmy, the way you crucified that girl,” Benson fumes. “She was discredited before she even took the stand.” Benson demands he run a retraction as a last-ditch effort to help the victim.

“Jimmy Mac don’t retract,” sneers MacArthur, giving us our new TV line of the year. “He don’t apologize, he don’t explain.”

Unfortunately for Jimmy Mac, it’s revealed that the rape did happen, and his sources lied to him as a favor to the rapist’s father, a prominent businessman who wanted his son’s name out of the paper. The tabloid runs a new story: “HOW JIMMY MAC GOT PLAYED.”

It doesn’t matter: The jury has already been poisoned, and since they all read the columns, the angry judge has no choice but to declare a mistrial. The evil media strikes again.

So, the rapists figure out a settlement and get a much lighter sentence, and the victim doesn’t get her justice. In “SVU’s” version of a happy ending, MacArthur sees the light about how horrible tabloids are and quits the paper in the blaze of anger.

“I’m 55-years-old, my profession is dying, my ex-wives all hate me, my credit cards are all maxed out ’cause I got three kids in college,” Jimmy Mac muses at the end of the episode, knocking back a drink with Olivia Benson. “And I’ve never felt better in my life.”

In conclusion? The media ruins trials and lives. And isn’t that what Alec Baldwin has been trying to tell us all along?

Here’s a clip from the episode, titled “Jimmy Mac Causes a Mistrial”:

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Caitlin Dewey · March 20, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.