Horseplay Admission Tops All Confessions 

Horseplay Admission Tops All Confessions 
Posted by FoM on September 21, 1999 at 15:02:09 PT
By Richard Roeper, Sun Times Columnist
Source: Chicago Sun Times
When Sam Donaldson asked the inevitable past-drug-use question to Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, I was hoping Bradley would respond with something like:
"Well you know Sam, that Phil Jackson had some pretty powerful `Maui Wowie' circulating in the Knicks' locker room in the early 1970s. Talk about getting a mellow buzz and havin' the munchies, woo boy! So I learned my lesson about not hitting the bong too hard, especially before a game with a tough opponent like the Lakers. You can't play defense if you feel like you're under water and you think everything the refs do is hilarious, Samster."Had Bradley done that, I would have resigned from the media and joined his campaign. Bulworth, Schmulworth, here's my man!Ah but not quite. Obviously having been prepped by his image gurus, Bradley said, "I've used marijuana several times, but never cocaine."When Donaldson asked if there'd been any recent doobage usage, Bradley chuckled and said, "No."And then the real fun began. Demonstrating a willingness to jab and move that Al Gore can only dream about, Bradley volleyed the question back at the Mr. Spock-looking Donaldson, who if he doesn't look like he's ever used drugs at least looks like something you'd see in a mushroom-induced hallucination. Had Donaldson ever used illegal drugs?"I think a couple of times I've tried it," said Donaldson with a chortle. "And I inhaled."A baked Sam Donaldson. The mind reels.Next it was co-panelist Cokie Roberts' turn to come clean. She denied any drug use, saying, "Oh listen, I was so pregnant during those years."Huh? What years? What a weak and evasive answer! Cokie would have fried George W. Bush if he'd been that elusive.Finally there was the suspiciously pink-faced George Will, who had no choice but to jump into the fire."No," said Will, he'd never done drugs. Then he added: "I'm from the Falstaff generation."Whoa, another oddball answer. Was the sophisticated, erudite Will admitting a predilection for the beer they used to serve up at the old Comiskey Park? Or was he making a cryptic reference to the jovial knight Falstaff from Shakespeare's "Henry IV"?No matter. As I watched the tape of this bizarre, confession-a-thon, I thought: You're all a bunch of wimps compared to Dan Rather.For when it comes to youthful drug use, the legendary CBS newsman tops them all. Dan Rather once did heroin.No joke. The straight-laced dean of network broadcasters once tried smack, horse, the big H--the most dangerous and seductive drug of them all. That's what he told writer Cliff Jahr in an interview that appeared in Ladies' Home Journal back in 1980. When the conversation turned to how Rather would discuss such issues as premarital sex and marijuana use with his children, Jahr asked Rather about his own drug use."I don't want to be coy with you," said Rather, after initially dodging the query. "I have not smoked pot in this country. As a reporter--and I don't want to say that's the only context--I've tried everything. I can say to you with confidence, I know a fair amount about LSD. I've never been a social user of any of these things, but my curiosity has carried me into a lot of interesting areas."Excellent! But wait, it gets better. Much better."As an example," Rather continued, "in 1955 or '56, I had someone at the Houston police station shoot me with heroin so I could do a story about it. The experience was a special kind of hell. I came out understanding full well how one could be addicted to `smack,' and quickly. When the children were fairly young, and there was so much emphasis everywhere on drugs, it was not possible for them to tell me I didn't know what I was talking about."Take that, you beer-drinking, pot-toking Baby Boomer reporters!Mr. Rather was on an all-day shoot for "60 Minutes II" on Monday, and thus was unavailable to comment on his long-ago admission of doing some pretty heavy research into the evils of drugs.So we're left with the printed interview, in which he sounds for all the world like J. Peterman confessing a flirtation with "Lady H" to Elaine on an old episode of "Seinfeld."And we have the rest of Campaign 2000 to look forward to. Many more months of reporters asking politicians about their drug use, and politicians asking reporters about their drug use, and reporters kidding each other about drug use--and the voters being driven to a druggy stupor by the inanity of it all.September 21, 1999Chicago Sun TimesRichard Roeper (rroeper appears Tuesdays at 8:10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. on WFLD-Channel 32's "Fox Thing in the Morning."
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