Gen. McCaffrey on Prime Time 

Gen. McCaffrey on Prime Time 
Posted by FoM on January 16, 2000 at 13:09:23 PT
Examiner Editorial Writer
Source: San Francisco Examiner
The office of the federal drug czar provides 'suggestions' on rewriting TV scripts to push an anti-drug message to viewers: The next time your favorite television sitcom portrays a drug-using character suffering for his or her bad habit, don't automatically credit that touch to the creative genius of the TV dramatists. 
The drug note may well have been nudged into the script by aides of Gen. Barry McCaffrey at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In a program little-noticed until the Internet magazine Salon rendered a critical report last week, the government has carved out a role for itself by influencing the content of prime-time TV shows. By submitting scripts in advance to the anti-drug policy officials, networks can get credit for warning about the dangers of addiction. They sometimes alter story content in line with suggestions from the drug czar. There's a powerful financial lure for the broadcasters to accommodate Uncle Sam as a script consultant. Anti-drug messages that pass muster are chalked up against a requirement that the networks run public-service ads denouncing drug use. The advertising time thus liberated is available for sale to commercial buyers at a higher rate. The networks in this manner have fattened their collective incomes by $22 million. What's wrong with this? Mainly that the networks have surrendered a portion of their creative independence to a federal bureaucracy. That's an erosion of free expression under the First Amendment. Another unsavory aspect of the anti-drug tactic - whatever its admirable objective of discouraging drug abuse - is its secrecy. McCaffrey did outline the system of storyline credits to a congressional subcommittee last fall, but the information was largely unreported. Neither federal officials nor network flacks were exactly effusive about how programs were being spiked with anti-drug content. So quiet was the process that several producers of programs submitted for government approval did not know it was going on. Even though the anti-drug insertions are defended by the White House, the general's aides are squeamish about giving all the details. An official listed some shows that had been reviewed, but declined to provide the complete list. If it is such an above-board effort in the public interest, with no Big Brother implications, let's take all the wraps off and label altered programs with "government-provided content." Published: January 16, 20002000 San Francisco Examiner Page C6 Related Articles:Federal Officials Sought to Preview Scripts, ABC - 1/16/2000 Backed Away From Anti-Drug Plan - 1/15/2000 Magazine Articles:White House Defends TV Drug-Ad Deal - 1/15/2000 Script Doctors - 1/13/2000 Money, How the White House Secretly Hooked TV-1/13/2000 
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on January 16, 2000 at 20:14:42 PT
No surprise at all...
Big Brother is rearing his ugly head yet again. It's amazing how Orwellian our society has become... who would have known it would be over something as innocuous as drugs.I sure hope they don't butcher the Simpsons with this crap... instead of Lisa having psychedelic visions or Otto fuming about "Stoner's Pot Palace" they'll be "checking in" to the Betty Ford Center... 
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