Gary Condit's wife threatened to sue the TV show Law & Order over an episode about a politician and a missing aide who turns up dead. The politician's wife turns out to be the killer.
Carolyn Condit requested that an apology be aired by NBC, the network that broadcasts the show. Her lawyers requested the retraction saying there was no factual basis to assert that Mrs. Condit ever contacted missing intern Chandra Levy or was involved in her disappearance.
Law & Order's producers announced Wednesday they would not apologize to Carolyn Condit, who threatened to sue for defamation.
"We believe there's no basis for her claim. The show is fictional," said Neil Schubert, spokesman for Studios USA, which produces the series for NBC.
The decision came a day after Gary Condit lost his re-election bid for the congressional seat he has held for six terms. In the Democratic primary, he was soundly beaten by state Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza.
Levy, 24, vanished last May. Police sources say Rep. Condit admitted having an affair with the Washington intern, but that he is not a suspect in her disappearance.
Young Woman Goes Missing
In the episode, the show's detectives investigated the disappearance of a 24-year-old aide to a state senator. Throughout the show, the young woman's parents demanded their daughter's case get more attention.
During the episode, the politician's wife takes the stand and talks about a phone call she had with the young aide: "She said she was pregnant, that Ted was the father. She said he was going to leave me and marry her."
The district attorney asks, "What did you do?"
"I went a little crazy. I went looking through his drawers, looking for love letters."
The episode aired Feb. 6 and carried the series' standard disclaimer that the story "does not depict any actual person or event."
Constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that the disclaimer would help Law & Order if Mrs. Condit and her lawyers decide to sue.
"What's even more helpful is that it is an entertainment program, which does stories — which doesn't hold itself out as being a news broadcast," said Abrams.
"What she's [Carolyn Condit] got going for her, she's an individual suing a big company. The company's a media company, and people don't like media companies an awful lot," he said.
Looking for Apologies
The letter titled "Demand for Retraction" was sent to Law & Order's executive producer and to NBC attorneys by the law firm representing Mrs. Condit.
"It is undeniable that the viewing public would identify Mrs. Condit as the wife depicted on the episode," according to the letter, which calls the episode "defamatory."
Law & Order is known for "ripped-from-the-headlines" stories. Last year's episode about violence during New York's Puerto Rican Day parade drew complaints from Hispanic groups and an apology from NBC.