Some 30 years after the Iran-Contra affair, the mention of Oliver North still stirs controversy.
The former Marine lieutenant colonel turned television personality, who was convicted in 1989 of crimes such as abetting the obstruction of Congress, served as a consultant on an upcoming episode of the FX series "The Americans," in which a pair of KGB spies living in Virginia attempt to infiltrate a contra training camp, according to New York Times TV writer Dave Itzkoff.
The network’s decision to use North, who received a story credit, riles many, according to Itzkoff, who writes that "many Americans continue to bear [North] ill will for his involvement in a program to sell arms secretly to Iran in violation of an embargo and divert the money to finance the Nicaraguan contras, who were fighting the Marxist Sandinista government there."
North said he sees his involvement as a great opportunity to pay homage to Ronald Reagan, "to showcase the man who changed the world for the good, for my kids and my grandkids."
On Itzkoff’s Twitter page, followers’ reactions spanned sarcasm to outrage.
One reader accused Itzkoff of failing to "quote a human rights expert on the Contra war," while another said he "really hoped [North’s former secretary] Fawn Hall would make an appearance."
Itzkoff responded that the article was not intended to expound on North’s military career, but the creative projects derived from it.
North, a Fox News commentator and the host of the network’s "War Stories," told Itzkoff he expects critics anytime he’s involved in a project.
"There’s going to be some people who just don’t like Ollie North," he said, adding that one of those was Bill de Blasio, a Sandinista sympathizer and the mayor of New York, the very locale where "The Americans" is filming.
North joked that he’d avoid driving his car into Manhattan because "I might find it towed when Bill de Blasio gets done with it."
North "capitalizing on his scandal" is a "bad joke," countered Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic.
"Everything that happens in history in this country eventually winds up as entertainment," Wieseltier told the Times. "Given his insistence upon his purity of heart and soul, there’s something a little tacky about his exploiting it."
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