A Downer Story for the Media -- Don't Do Drug Ads

  A Downer Story for the Media -- Don't Do Drug Ads

Posted by CN Staff on May 21, 2002 at 18:28:27 PT
Press Clips By Cynthia Cotts 
Source: Village Voice 

Most people already know that anti-drug ads won't stop kids from getting high. But The Wall Street Journal saw the news value on May 14 when U.S. drug czar John Walters announced a survey that shows the government's anti-drug ads have completely failed to slow down teen drug use. Over the past five years, the feds spent $929 million to spread the message, and what did they get? A quarter of high school seniors still use illegal drugs, and after seeing the ads, some 13-year-old girls started smoking pot. 
This is a big story, one of many recent signs that the drug war is a failure. (To be fair, Walters thinks the answer is to spend more money on scarier ads, like the ones linking teen drug use with terrorism. "Drugs are bad for you," he likes to say. "Drugs are bad for your country.") On May 15, ABC, CNN, and NPR reported on Walters's claim, and an A.P. story landed in a few papers, including the Daily News. But the drug news was snuffed out, even before we learned that Bush heard early hijack warnings. If you only read The New York Times or The Washington Post, you would have missed it altogether. So why did the Times and Post consider this a nonstory? Is it because the Journal is a competitor, and editors are loath to publicize their rivals' scoops? Or could their silence reflect a deeper conflict of interest? When the government started paying the media to run anti-drug ads in 1998, both the Times and the Post participated eagerly in the campaign, running the anti-drug propaganda ad nauseam and receiving thousands of dollars of financial credit from the government in return. On its Web site -- -- the drug czar's office still boasts of working with the Times to produce anti-drug curriculum guides. Could they be too close for comfort? Lo and behold, all such conspiracy theories appear to be unfounded! A spokesperson for The Washington Post says the company has no current arrangement to run the anti-drug ads—and it wouldn't matter if it did, because the editorial and business sides are run separately. Post national editor Michael Abramowitz explains innocently, "You have a good point. I heard the reports and thought, Gee, that sounds kind of interesting. It's one of those things we ought to have done, but it just fell through the cracks. We've been in a very busy news cycle." Asked why the Times did not report on the drug ads last week, Washington bureau chief Jill Abramson said the story was "definitely on my radar screen," adding that it is Times policy not to comment on editorial decisions. A Times spokesperson insisted that news and business "maintain a rigorous separation. If the business side has received advertising revenue from the government, it is unlikely that the editors are even aware of it, and they would be justifiably insulted by any suggestion to the contrary." Newspaper execs did not cook up this scam. It was thrust on them by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a nonprofit group that persuaded the government to spend a billion dollars on anti-drug ads and that is now spinning to cover up the alleged failure. (In a statement posted on its Web site last week and now removed, the Partnership blames the bureaucracy and says it warned about problems long ago.) Why is the Partnership freaking out? Most media outlets treat the patriotic-sounding group like a sacred cow. Even The Wall Street Journal's Vanessa O'Connell never explicitly identified the Partnership in her article, despite two references to a "nonprofit group" that supplied the ads. Perhaps the Partnership is threatened by New York-based freelancer Daniel Forbes, who calls the feds' campaign a "political construct" and says its failure "calls the Partnership's whole paradigm into question." Forbes was puzzled by the Journal's omission of the Partnership's name. "If it's important enough to the story to mention it twice, why leave your readers in the dark?" he asks. O'Connell did not return a call. Writing for Salon in January 2000, Forbes exposed a clever scheme used by the government to encourage newspapers, magazines, and TV networks to support the drug war. If a media company agreed to incorporate anti-drug messages into its original content, the government offered financial credit, thus reducing the amount of advertising a participating company was required to provide. The feds were so keen on crafting the message, Forbes reported, that some networks submitted their scripts for advance approval. The Washington Post later revealed that the Times, the Post, and USA Today received $893,000 in financial credits from the drug czar's office, a/k/a the Office of National Drug Control Policy. I have my own questions about the Partnership's intentions. In a 1992 article for The Nation, I revealed that the Partnership is a silent partner to the legal drug industry, condoning the use of "good" drugs by targeting only the "bad" ones. (Partnership ads conspicuously avoid mention of tobacco, alcohol, and prescription pills.) At the time, the group had accepted $5.4 million from legal drug manufacturers, including alcohol and tobacco kings Anheuser-Busch, Philip Morris, and R.J. Reynolds. The Partnership has stopped taking tobacco and alcohol money, but it still accepts donations from pharmaceutical companies. According to the group's 1999 annual report, donors include the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Du Pont, Hoffmann-LaRoche, and the Pfizer Foundation. (Message to kids: Marijuana is bad. Codeine, Valium, and Viagra are good.) Of course, it's a worthy goal to reduce the dangers of drug abuse. But given the hypocrisy that pervades the drug war, it's no wonder kids don't buy into it. Indeed, Forbes says the true purpose of the taxpayer-funded campaign is not to discourage teen drug abuse, but rather "to target adult voters and keep them supportive of the massively expensive war on drugs. Marijuana is by far the most-used illegal drug and the drug most adult voters remember using. That's why it's the linchpin in the struggle for opinion." As evidence, Forbes cites his July 2000 Salon story, which revealed that the government decided to pay for the anti-drug ads in direct response to 1996 referenda in Arizona and California, in which voters approved the use of medical marijuana. At a meeting convened by former drug czar Barry McCaffrey, drug warriors attributed the success of the medical marijuana initiatives to a $2 million ad campaign funded by George Soros and colleagues—and vowed to raise the money to fight back. Partnership execs lobbied Congress, and a year later, the anti-drug campaign was born. (The government and the Partnership have denied a political motive.) For more proof that the U.S. drug war isn't working, just look to Europe. In March, a British government agency recommended reducing the criminal penalties for marijuana possession, because the drug "is not associated with major health problems." Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Luxembourg have recently decriminalized possession and use of most drugs. On May 3, The Washington Post put this news on the front page. How long before the Times gives us a similarly honest report on which drug policies work, and which don't? Source: Village Voice (NY)Author: Cynthia CottsPublished: May 22 - 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 VV Publishing CorporationContact: editor villagevoice.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Crossfire: Do Drug Ads Work? Cheech & Chong Medicine Drug Czar Says Ad Campaign has Flopped Reading, Writing And Propaganda

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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on May 22, 2002 at 05:50:56 PT:
Don't throw away your precious pee!
After all, if cannabis is more valuable than gold (gold is hovering around $270 an ounce right now; good weed in excess of $400 where I am) then you'd think any byproduct of usage might have more than it's intrinsic (true) value. Just think: your pee, thanks to the Wo(S)D, may be worth much more than the less-than-one-cent that it would normally be worth. Why should you provide your pee for free? Since the average cost of pee-testing is about $15 dollars per person, then you should be able to charge even more for it. If the testers want your pee, inform them that you only accept cash, money orders or cashier's checks, and all sales are final.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on May 22, 2002 at 04:22:19 PT
They want pee
send them the pee!Perhaps if the wise would send them pee from around the world, in abundance, through the mail, directly to those who want the pee the most. Perhaps what they want is to bee saturated in my pee and your pee and all the pee they can see. An organized effort to send pee from all American peewee's on app. the same day would help them reach their sea of pee, goal.Let them eat pee. But pee like juice has no fiber, so why don't wee send them some fiber with that pee. And what fiber would they prefer, that blends so well with thee pee? If you ask mee, they need some poopee with their pee.Zappa: And the Huskey wee wee I mean the doggyee wee wee....Twisted yellow bastard freaks that want the pee so bad should be tied down and peed on. It illustrates the importance of being careful what you ask for because you might get it.Note: I am not condoning doing anyting illegal. If they ask for pee and you give it to them, and it is illegal to use the delivery system you choose, I am not responsible.
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on May 22, 2002 at 00:29:54 PT
...That's The Spirit!....
....p4me,,,you are a true patriot,and an excellent commentator!.........I must admit,,that I have never had to undergo a pee test,,,(yet),,,,,,,so perhaps my opinion/theory,,is somewhat less than properly edified..... but ,,it seems to me that any campaign with the word "pee" ,in it,,will be looked upon as strange,and offbeat,,by those who are not familiar with pee test situations......I am with you ,and I support your cause,but I sort of think the "Pee for Freedom",idea,will have a somewhat limited appeal......I am sure there are alot of people who are outraged by pee tests,,and perhaps there are many that will come out in support of a Pee for Freedom campaign ,,but ,, ,,I think that alot of pee test victims,are afraid to come out of the closet,(so to speak),for the specific cause of 'anti pee testing'...I think there are alot of pee tested people out there,,who live in a world of fear. It seems to me,that a person who is subjected to pee testing,,from the courts/government,,or employers,,,,these people must live in a state of FEAR!,,,a constant threat of being incarcerated,penalized,or expelled... It all seems surrealistic when looking at the big picture.It seems like some sci-fi novel from the 50s,,.and I cant resist mentioning the Orwellian direction of the whole terror/drug war,,(even though use of the term 'Orwellian',is almost becoming an old cliche'.) .........anyway,,,,I think the sad reality,,is that there are millions of people who are in favor of freedom to use drugs,,,millions who hide their use of drugs,and live in fear,,,,,millions who disagree with the empire....But,,,there is a limited amount of people who are willing to make waves,and speak out against the War on drugs/terror/freedom.....And you cant really blame alot of them..When a person becomes aware of the brutal power of our police state,,,and people see their friends,and relatives,whos' lives are destroyed from a drug conviction..............We are living in times,,(I guess it's rather obvious),where, a certain level of paranoia is healthy,and recommended..You cant argue with a cop nowdays,,"acting nervous" is "probable cause",,and with "probable cause",a citizen can be probed,and searched with almost no limits!.....I got pulled over the other night,,and right after the cop asked for my license and registration,,he said;"When was the last time you were in jail?",I pretended to not be offended by the question,,but I was pissed,,especially after he explained why he had pulled me over..he said one of my back lights was out.....and after he failed to find anything to bust me for,,as he walked back to his car,,I asked,,"which light was out?",,,he said,,"your license plate light."...This was nothing less than harassment by a cop...I hate to imagine what I would have gone through if I was on parole,,or I had to tell that cop that I was in jail recently,,,because his next question would have been;"What were you in jail for?",,and if I said "possession" of ______,,that would be considered "probable cause" to look up my ASS!,, ..
...obviously,,I wandered way off track ,,again...
..I seriously admire,and respect your ideas p4me....And please dont allow my nebulous dimestore critique to diminish your zeal........It's people like you,,who speak out,that are the only hope we have in battling The War on Freedom........'They got the guns,,but we got the numbers'.....dddd 
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Comment #2 posted by p4me on May 21, 2002 at 21:02:37 PT

Another day shot to hell
We have spent another day with an unjust law and the Schedule One Lie still lives. I have some time before Charlie Rose and I would like to say something in a complete form.I certainly do not believe that the DEA or the US Government is going to vanquish marijuana off the face of the earth. Yahooka list 5000 websites and all those websites have a following. It is all but a waste of time to try to say why marijuana is not going be wiped off the planet. I have no doubts that in time marijuana will be legalized or regulated here in the United States and like everyone in the choir, I too believe that yesterday was too late.Remember the movie Patton where George C. Scott has his dream about the Germans carrying off their dead in carts and he surmizes that the German cause will soon be lost. One thing I read a couple of weeks ago at was a kid saying that young people are going to smoke pot because they can do that and still function in front of a computer. That's it folks. Young kids are growing up with computers and all the evidence on the net is that the government has ignored reports in the past that would have legalized marijuana and what it can do for the sick. The DEA website and those that feed off of prohibition might say that marijuana has no medical value. 73% already know that to be a lie. A website that says something like marijuana has no medical value is dismissed as being propaganda. The SOL on a website is not a canary that says there is poison in the mine, but the SOL is a logical canary. The government's war on drugs is lost. We just need to get the diehards to stop fighting.I have spent 15 minutes on the above and would quickly like to outline a Piss on Washington train of thought. I say the way to end this war is with pee. People are dying in Columbia and pigs poisoned in Equidor how ever you spell it, under some tainted notion that they are protecting the US people from cocaine. I hate to say it but we do not have the right to do what we are doing and that the whole WOD is a house of lies that will fall faster than a house of cards.The biggest red flag and flares of all colors are signalling to look at tobacco. 400,000 deaths a year and 28.5% of high school students are smoking. And how many of them got arrested? In the drug testing that the profit-seekers are wanting they do not even mention tobacco. A war on drugs my ass. If there were to start a real effort to reduce drug abuse the president would have to say something to the nation and the children about tobacco. There is no real effort to reduce the harms of drug abuse. If there were the President would have to say repeatedly with a few read my lips: "Whatever you do don't smoke."It is all bull$hit people and people are sitting in pain from no medicine and people are sitting in jail from unjust laws and people in Columbia are in coffins because of treason (insert your own word). How can people not be pissed off. Well the key is pee.Holly bat $hitman. What are we going to do? I wish that I knew of a Columbian website to go to. There are plenty of Columbians around my part of the country and they need to get involved. Those are the people that would throw some piss at the DEA on June 6th. The system has run amuck and nobody is going to condemn someone for throwing a pee balloon against the wall at a DEA office. I would like to see balloons with slogans. I would like slogans in the pee balloons so that the press has to print them. I wouldn't mind someone freezing some pee in the shape of the Statue of Liberty with holes behind the eyes so they can put hot ball bearings or bb's in the ice statue so that Lady Liberty cries. I would like to see dozens of people towing little red wagons with frozen images of Lady Liberty or the Liberty Bell or a frozen pee flag with food dye that is yellow, white and blue.I would like to read about a person that had a drug test and put a Washington quarter in the pee and wrote P4Me2 on the bottle. Why doesn't someone do something like that on telivision. Has anyone even heard of a pee test being a subject on any television show? Something is really warped when art does not reflect life and you cannot tell me that a piss test is a big part of American life.I thought I should give the Pee for Freedom idea another presentation so that on June 6th someone might give the DEA a good show. If you want June 6th to be a success it should be pee day for stoners and supporters.One reason I feel restrained is because I would like to finish a book and I would like it to have some new phrases and sentences as well as having some entertainment value. Of course the rights to copyright take force once the words are written but when it comes to suing you need to have your works recorded with the Copyright Office. But I do not know if I will wake up in the morning so I will offer this line for a poster on June 6th and for your mind to digest.It is not that great but I am proud of it and if you were as pissed off about the lies as I am you would chant it incessantly come June 6th. Here it is. Brace yourself.WE ARE THE WRONGED AND WE ARE THE RIGHT.How could you not shout that at the DEA come June 6th?ICBS,VAAI,POW 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on May 21, 2002 at 20:32:49 PT

Cynthia Cotts
doing wall removal work.
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