I’m celebrating 100 episodes of FBI Retired Case File Review with a special crime fiction show exploring clichés and misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. What most people know about the FBI comes from popular culture. This list features what writers of novels, scripts and screenplays sometimes get wrong about the Bureau and FBI agents. This is my second list. In Episode 50, I also wrote about this topic. Both lists were created for those who read and watch crime fiction about the FBI, write crime fiction and thrillers about the FBI, and who have always wanted to join the FBI.

Why should you care if entertainment media gets things wrong about the FBI in books, TV, and movies? Why does it matter if films and novels occasionally contain false information about the FBI?

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What began as a marketing tool to introduce myself to potential readers of my crime fiction, has morphed into a mission to assure the public of the integrity and independence of the FBI.

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I’m excited to be celebrating my 50th episode of FBI Retired Case File Review this week, along with the success of my crime novel Pay To Play. While producing and hosting my true crime – crime fiction podcast over the last year, I’ve conducted interviews with my retired FBI colleagues about the high-profile cases they worked while on the job. And during almost every interview one of us comments about some aspect of the case or an investigative method that had been portrayed in books, TV, and movies as a cliché or inaccurately. I noted at least ten (10) misconceptions about the FBI that were repeatedly discussed. Just as some attorneys don’t read or watch legal dramas, and some doctors avoid medical shows and novels, for this special episode I’m joined by retired agent Bobby Chacon, a technical advisor for the TV show Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders for a lively discussion about why some FBI agents might not be reading that bestselling book series or watching that popular show depicting the FBI (In episode 8, I interviewed Bobby about working Jamaican drug gang cases and leading the FBI dive team).

Most people will never meet an FBI agent. The only connections they have with the FBI are the ones they make through books, TV, and movies, along with, of course, the news.

So, what if fictional portrayals of FBI agents are clichés or inaccurate? Does it really matter?

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fbi-toy-calendar_cover-squareExclusive offer (limited time) for FBI Retired Case File Review newsletter subscribers.

The FBI “G-Men” antique toy cars and guns, games and books featured in this free “G-Men” FBI collectibles calendar are from the memorabilia collections of retired FBI Special Agents Joe McQuillan and Doug Hess. McQuillan, who served as an agent from 1966 to 1998, is a former supervisor of the Philadelphia Division’s tech squad. Hess, who served in the FBI from 1980 to 2002 and was assigned property crimes and reactive work, jokes that he introduced the hobby to McQuillan and “started Joe’s obsession.” They both were collectors of antiques prior to Hess attending an antique show and purchasing a few FBI memorabilia items on sale.  No longer available.

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On March 18, 2016, on his award-winning website, The Audacity to Podcast, Daniel J. Lewis wrote a blogpost titled There is No #1 in iTunes Podcasts “New and Noteworthy.” The piece generated a robust discussion in the comments section, including whether or not being featured in the New and Noteworthy section really makes a difference in the success of a show.

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Quantico

Dear @QuanticoTV, @QuanticoWriters and #Quantico Fans,

I’m a retired agent and I have a confession. When I first heard that ABC was producing a TV show about the FBI Academy, I said to myself, “this is not going to be good.” I watched the first episode, but with my pre-conceived opinions immediately determined the show was not for me.

It’s possible that while viewing the season premiere I was distracted by Alex’s beautiful thick and wavy hair or by the nagging questions I had regarding why her uniform tops were tighter and cut lower than any of the other female trainees in her class. But regardless of those diversions, I should have watched more than one episode before determining the merits of the case, I mean show.

What I am trying to say is that I apologize for pre-judging @QuanticoTV.

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Knife & Blood

Although serial killings are relatively rare, books, movies and TV shows can give the false impression that throughout the country there are teams of FBI profilers peering into the minds and behaviors of violent serial killers to determine what they’re thinking and what they may do next.

If only that were true.

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