‘The Script was Entertaining but very Sophmorish’ – FBI Deputy Director on The X-Files

Published May 15th 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

In 1998 retired FBI deputy director Cartha DeLoach was asked by the producers of The X-Files to review the script for an episode of the show that was set in the 1950s.  The FBI recently released DeLoach’s response to the producers, where he branded the script ‘very entertaining but sophmorish’, taking particular issue with the depiction of his boss J Edgar Hoover.

The letter was discovered in the latest files released in response to a request by MuckRock user Emma Best, though exactly why a private letter from a retired Bureau agent was in the FBI’s Hollywood file is not clear.  Presumably DeLoach informed the Bureau and provided them with a copy, though we cannot rule out the FBI intercepting the letter covertly.

DeLoach was one of Hoover’s favourite lieutenants, his number 3 man at the FBI.  He often liaised with the media while at the Bureau, which is presumably why the X-Files producers approached him about a season five flashback episode set in the 1950s.  They asked for his opinions on the script, sending a copy along with pictures of the stars of the show.  His letter commented:

The script was entertaining but very sophmorish. When compared to FBI policies it was totally lacking in accuracy and objectivity. It may appeal to some segment of the masses through attempts at sensationalism, but it’s crudeness and primer like aspects will turn off anyone with knowledge of the FBI and law enforcement in general.

It may be that the entire theme “if it bleeds, it reads” purposely is applied to such scripts. If so, in my opinion the series will be short lived.

It seems DeLoach was unaware that the show was already in its fifth season, and would run for several more before its long hiatus.  Aside from insulting the episode’s crudeness and simplicity DeLoach took issue with how the show portrayed J Edgar Hoover:

My question; why such totally inaccurate productions when with accuracy and objectivity the show would be even more entertaining ? For instance, J. Edgar Hoover disliked Senator Joseph McCarthy intensely. He was with him only on two occasions, one a social event hosted by the Texas oil Barons Richardson and Murchison at the Del Charm hotel at La Jolla, California, and the second when Hoover chastised McCarthy for claiming there were two hundred and eighty three communists in the Department cf State. Hoover made McCarthy back down and admit this was simply a “laundry list” he had been reading from.

Whatever Hoover’s personal feelings about McCarthy it is certainly true that much of McCarthy’s investigations and accusations were based on FBI files, much like HUAC before him.  The episode in question took most of Hoover’s dialogue from speeches by McCarthy, which I find entirely appropriate.

Nonetheless it is interesting that the Bureau and its former employees are still concerned with his portrait in film & TV even decades after his death.  DeLoach’s letter continues:

I repeat, why bring disrepute to the FBI and to Hoover’s name by such shoddy programs? The objective of popularity and increased ratings could still be obtained by necessary sensationalism yet with fairness and accuracy.

This last comment suggests that, despite years of working with the media while at the FBI, DeLoach didn’t understand the concept of ‘dramatic license’, or that a strictly ‘accurate’ and Bureau-approved version of history is not very interesting or entertaining.  While DeLoach did offer his services to the producers on an ongoing basis, it does not appear they took him up on his offer or pay much attention to his comments on the script.

Documents

FBI – Letter from Cartha DeLoach to The X-Files producer

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