Playing Down TV Anti-Drug Scandal

Playing Down TV Anti-Drug Scandal
Posted by FoM on February 01, 2000 at 13:19:17 PT
Letters To DateBook
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Editor -- In his column of January 19 (`` `Hidden' Alliance Was Largely Out in the Open''), television critic John Carman attempted to play down the recent scandal in which Gen. Barry McCaffrey's Office of National Drug Control Policy offered financial incentives to the television networks if they produced ``anti-drug'' episodes of popular shows. By failing to report the government payments to viewers, the networks apparently violated anti- payola laws. 
Carman's suggestion that the networks submitted their scripts to the government only in order to receive ``expert advice'' is bizarre, considering that the drug office has insisted for years on remaining uninformed about the real physical, social and other effects of illegal drug use -- preferring, it would seem, to believe its own propaganda, which tells us that marijuana use inevitably leads to physical and moral collapse. If the office's ``experts'' told the WB network that a script for ``Smart Guy'' would be more accurate if it depicted drug-using teens as terminally uncool, rather than popular and well-liked, then these ``experts'' are deluding themselves about what really goes in the lives of teenagers (like the characters of ``Smart Guy''). If Carman or his readers would like to learn the facts about drugs and drug prohibition, I recommend and Keith SandersEl Cerrito -- -- Editor -- Seldom have I been so distressed by a Chronicle item as by John Carman's attempted whitewash of the collusion between the Office of National Drug Control Policy and network TV. The 1997 legislation authorizing the drug czar to spend $1 billion in tax dollars for $2 billion worth of ``anti-drug'' ads was controversial -- even though the second billion was to be recouped in the form of public service announcements (PSAs) extracted from the networks. Critics opposed the plan because the efficacy of such ads had never been demonstrated. Also, with the drug war under increased criticism for its many failures, allowing purchases directly from the media was seen as a dubious use of government funds at best, an opportunity to buy influence at worst. The critics were prescient; the (probably illegal) ad-hoc decision to forgive network PSA obligations had monetary value, Carman's soft-shoe dance through TV accounting practices notwithstanding. Beyond that, it's an attempt by government to control content -- clearly an infringement of the First Amendment. Tom O' ConnellSan Mateo Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2000 2000 San Francisco Chronicle  Page E3 Related Articles: Editorial: Must See Television, Propaganda - 1/28/2000 Conspiracy for Good is Bad - 1/28/2000 Just Say No - 1/27/2000 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 01, 2000 at 18:10:04 PT
Politicians And Drugs 
US CA: Pub LTE: Politicians And DrugsNewshawk: Frank S. WorldWeb Site: DPFWI Tue, 01 Feb 2000Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)Copyright: 2000 San Francisco ChronicleContact: chronletters Website: MAP's link to California articles is: AND DRUGSEditor -- The important point about John Warnecke's allegations that Al Gore used a lot more marijuana than previously admitted (``Pot Use May Cloud Gore Campaign,'' January 29), is not how much he used; it's the degree to which Gore and all the other candidates have -- with tacit media complicity -- managed to avoid the entire drug policy issue. Since the drug war hasn't been questioned, the implication is that it's so firmly agreed upon, there's no need to raise it as an issue. This politically correct view may be comfortable for candidates and the media, but an increasing number of Americans see drug prohibition as a failed policy which is doing far more to fill prisons than limit drug use; they want it openly discussed, along with alternative strategies. It now seems likely that rich political scions, each with a drug-use skeleton in his youthful closet, will receive the major nominations. They'll both have a lot more trouble ducking the drug policy issue for the simple reason that as politicians themselves, they've been staunch supporters of punitive laws which -- had they been less privileged -- could easily have saddled them with felony arrest records and kept them permanently out of politics. Tom O'Connell, MDSan Mateo
Politicians And Drugs 
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