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Mariska Hargitay does her celeb-lobbying time in Washington

Mariska Hargitay takes part in a panel discussion on Wednesday. (Tony Powell)

Does Hollywood really need to send its celebvocates to lobby Capitol Hill? It's already pounding its messages into the brains of millions watching at home.

That seemed to be the thinking behind one of the odder stars-with-causes events in Washington lately. Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: SVU" and a team of showbiz insiders held a panel discussion Wednesday at the Library of Congress to raise awareness of global health issues. Instead of the usual photo-op meetings with lawmakers, they showed TV clips to a room of like-minded policy wonks. Including that "Grey's Anatomy" plot about how few mothers transmit HIV to their babies, and the very special episode of "House" where a drug company was urged to spend funds in Africa -- Hollywood trying to make a difference.

"When you have 6 million people who've been murdered in Congo and a lot of Americans say they've never heard about that, to me that seems like a problem," said Neal Baer, executive producer of "SVU." "It's our responsibility as writers to tell not only stories about Americans, but stories about everybody."

The whole thing was weird and self-congratulatory, yet deeply shrewd. Baer, a Harvard-trained physician, brought the show's star to brighten up a deadly earnest discussion. The TV watching was lent a certain gravitas by the presence of the University of Southern Cal's Hollywood, Health and Society project (which gets funding from the NIH and CDC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And no pesky senators or members of Congress turned up to explain how many other worthy issues are competing for their funds and votes.

For all the talk of Hollywood's influence, Baer insisted that he's only trying to tell "a story that's gripping and might inspire you to find out more." His own priority: AIDS in Africa. "This is looming, horrendous problem that hasn't gotten enough attention," he said.

Hargitay -- whose "SVU" is a linchpin of the "Law & Order" franchise that draws 57 million viewers a week, including endless cable repeats -- got teary after watching a clip from last week's episode involving rape in the Congo: "Yeah, you need a minute after that."

By The Reliable Source  |  March 26, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
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These are some of the same "stars" who are pro-abortion. The SVU series is nothing more than a format for "issues" and most are very radical left vs. Christians and conservatives. The Christians, of course, are the crazed killers and fanatics. These people are without a soul.

Posted by: somberjules | March 26, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse


actually, when you think about the society as a whole, MOST crimes committed against groups of people are based on RELIGION or other perceived differences.

And, most if not ALL people who have killed abortion doctors...were from the Radical "Christian" movements. AND, if you look at the current political climate, the "Crazies" are the crazies vandalizing district offices of congressional members, hurling racial epithets and calling for WAR.

so...i ask you "who" is making whom look crazy. imitates life.

Posted by: WTCouncil | March 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The water in DC is obviously very bitter and people have been drinking way too much of it. Its ironic to me that the title of this is "Mariska Hargitay does her celeb-lobbying time -- but skips Capitol Hill". Ms. Hargitay was actually in the halls of Congress earlier in the day lobbying to reduce rape kit backlog. There seems to be an overwhelming desire at the Washington Post to write about those "damn celebrities" without doing any research. Ms. Hargitay takes her role on SVU seriously, it has become more than a role to her and more an opportunity to make a difference. She started The Joyful Heart Foundation to assist victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. Earlier in the day she and her foundation were also on a conference call with other sexual assault organizations pledging support in whatever way they could to end the rape kit backlog. Ms. Hargitay has a genuine concern for what is happening in the world around her and wants to make a difference. So instead of immediately assuming that this is some sort of photo opportunity, take a step back and do some research and you just might find someone guileless.

Posted by: advocate4 | March 26, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Even if she HADN'T visited the Capitol Building, she was still on Capitol Hill, which is where the Library of Congress is also located.

Posted by: MattRaymond | March 26, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

The tone of your article is strange and quite disturbing, considering the issues you are referencing.

Were you unaware of Mariska Hargitay's longstanding history of advocacy for abuse survivors, and the work of the Joyful Heart Foundation?

As someone working in the area I have been impressed by the work the organisation carries out. Their approach is quite wide-reaching and they have novel, but wholly realistic, ways of tackling the many barriers our society still slams down in front of those who seek help when victimised by abuse.

I was startled to read such a poorly researched piece in the Washington Post, and I fail to understand the mentality behind it.

Undermining the work of someone who is throughly engaged in working for abuse survivors is difficult to understand. It would seem to be the Washington Post which is capitalising upon these issues for the sake of cheap entertainment.

Posted by: query | March 26, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

The Reliable Source should consider doing even a modicum of research before posting a derogatory column like this. Say what you will about celebs getting involved in causes, but at least get the facts straight before dumping them all into the same box.

Mariska Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She spent Wednesday morning lobbying to reduce rape kit backlog, and she has participated in countless events to raise awareness and reduce the stigma that so often follows victims of abuse and sexual assault.

Perhaps the "Reliable" Source should be more concerned with facts than salaciousness and not degrade the quality of journalism I have come to expect from The Washington Post.

Posted by: mf82 | March 26, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

No amount of radical left spin changes the fact that so many left wing shows are anti-Christian, pro-abortion and certainly pro-gay special rights. The damage these people do to young people is extreme. The truth is, most radical extremists are on the left and want to destroy what morals this society has left.

Posted by: somberjules | March 29, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I don't watch TV. I read fine literature.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 29, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 29, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I watch TV and love Mariska.

Posted by: martinalandau | March 30, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I watch TV and love Mariska.

Posted by: martinalandau | March 30, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

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