Journalist Tangles With Feds Over Antidrug Deal

Journalist Tangles With Feds Over Antidrug Deal
Posted by FoM on April 07, 2000 at 07:57:38 PT
By Mark Jurkowitz, Globe Staff
There's a new battlefront in the White House war on drugs. Daniel Forbes.Forbes, 44, is the freelancer who recently authored two big stories for the online magazine Salon that revealed a controversial financial link between the media and the government's antidrug campaign.
Now he's the focus of a heated dispute between the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) - which is asking Salon to disclose Forbes's "bias" against the drug war - and Salon, whose editor accuses the ONDCP of "coming close to Nixonian behavior in trying to nail the messenger ... " In January, Forbes reported that six TV networks earned millions by airing prime-time programs with antidrug themes deemed appropriate by the ONDCP. Media outlets taking ONDCP antidrug ads must provide additional space or time of equal value or other forms of public service, and those prime-time programs allowed the networks to reclaim some discounted ad time.Last week, Forbes named six magazines - US News & World Report, The Sporting News, Family Circle, Seventeen, Parade, and USA Weekend - that hoped to reap similar rewards by submitting content with antidrug messages to the ONDCP. This week, the antidrug office told the Globe that several other publications - including Family Life, Ladies' Home Journal, Hispanic magazine, and NEA Today - also submitted content that is currently being evaluated under the ONDCP program.The ONDCP says it's properly enlisting the media in the drug war. But Forbes's stories have ignited a debate about whether the media should be part of what he calls a "government campaign to influence the control of popular culture."In a March 30 letter to Salon, ONDCP assistant director for strategic planning Robert Housman, said "it is clear that Dan Forbes ... is more than just a disinterested reporter in search of a story. Mr. Forbes has been a regular contributor to the Media Awareness Project's Website, an organization that essentially advocates for the legalization of drugs."The MAP: is part of the DrugSense organization whose "primary objective is to get a national dialogue so we can start getting sensible alternatives ... to our failed policy," says DrugSense executive director Mark Greer.The MAP postings include a lengthy 1998 piece Forbes (using the pen name Daniel Hill) wrote for Brandweek magazine casting doubts on the research behind the government's antidrug ad campaign. Greer says the MAP will "archive virtually any article we can find that is drug-policy-related," and that Forbes received no money from the organization. Greer says the MAP became aware of Forbes's work when he mentioned the Brandweek piece to one of the group's editors at a seminar.Forbes says "I had no great interest in the drug issue" until he began examining the antidrug ad campaign for Brandweek at an editor's request. "There's been no editorializing in the Salon pieces," he adds. "I am not an advocate for any policy situation or drug policy organization. They [the ONDCP] descend to ad hominem attacks on me, but they don't seem to want to discuss the substance of the articles.""I'm not accusing him of anything," says Housman. "I'm trying to make them [Salon] play honest journalism. I'm not asking the guy not to write ... I don't care what his view is. But I think the readers should know."When asked if Salon should disclose Forbes's views, editor David Talbot says, "whatever biases Dan Forbes has about US drug policy ... I think the biases were not the driving factor in the stories he did for us ... What's really going on here is the White House is coming close to launching a preemptive strike on the reputation of a journalist."Meanwhile, even as magazine editors say they did not know that editorial content was being submitted to the ONDCP, the journalistic debate over that practice rages. NEA Today publisher Sam Pizzigatti says his publication submitted material on student health that referenced an antidrug Web site, noting that we "do that anyway, regardless of advertising."Family Life editor in chief Peter Herbst says his magazine submitted a story that wasn't actually about drugs, but contained "positive stuff about raising kids.""In general, this kind of [content for credit] swap is a bad idea," Herbst says. "It contaminates the process." But he adds that "no editors have created material to satisfy this demand and no editors have ever been aware of this."Thanks to Forbes, they're aware now.DigitalMASS:Published: April 6, 2000 Copyright 2000 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing, Inc. Related Articles & Web Sites:MapInc. By Mark Greer Magazine CannabisNews MapInc. Archives: Related Articles & Salon Magazine News Items:The Drug War Gravy Train House Defends TV Drug-Ad Deal, 90210 Script Doctors Money, How the White House Secretly Hooked TV 
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on April 08, 2000 at 17:30:34 PT:
It's nice to be appreciated, FoM
but in reality, I write what I do because I am addressing *two* audiences. The first is ... us. A shame we have to think like that, but they are the ones who declared this a war; a war in which *we* are the 'enemy'. Never kid yourself; if they had their way, we'd be locked up in concentration camps just like the political prisoners of the early Nazi regime were; pilot programs for the then-future Holocaust. I run under the assumption - hopefully not vainly - that for every person who writes something here, there are thousands more of like mind. Thousands who can see through the DrugWar BS. Thousands who feel they are 'out in the cold', alone. Well, in at least this (virtual) forum, we aren't. By sharing information, we become stronger. We learn how to counter the antis propagandistic BS with the facts. We spread information faster than they have the facilities to counter our moves. I've said it before; they really, truly do not understand this medium, and are only just now realizing that on some very crucial points, THIS MEDIUM HAS THWARTED THEIR EFFORTS. (The recent half-hearted debate witnessed on the House floor about the Colombia aid plan and by extension, the harrd drug problem in the US is a perfect example; thousands of people used the Internet to tell their Reps that they did not believe this a good idea. And the Reps *listened* for once.) Through the Internet people of all political persuasions and beliefs have come together in common cause, and made a difference. It's very hard to 'divide and conquer' something that moves as fast as the Web and its' denizens can. Which makes the antis very uncomfortable, indeed. And it is why the Anti-Meth Bill is specifically targeted at the Internet; like brutish cavemen, what they cannot understand, they fear. What they fear, they try to control. What they cannot control, they try to destroy.And this is what the second audience is composed of. Yes, I'm addressing this to the narks in the audience. Yes, you, nark. It's said that the dinosaurs were killed off by a meteor hitting the planet. Well, some ideas are as dated as those giant saurians were. Like the Drugwar. 200 Billion over twenty years... wasted. 2 Million people in jail, mostly non-violent people who never had any bone to pick with you - until this idiocy ruined their lives. Families torn apart. Careers ruined. Innocent lives taken and the murderers get a slap on the wrist from a judge. US soldiers, our own people, kill a 16 year old shepherd boy!This madness will not be allowed to continue. The Age of the (Political) Dinosaurs is slowly and painfully coming to an end. Thousands of people all over the country are being joined by thousands more. Quietly, all working to reverse decades of backwards thinking and the tragedy that results from it. Tragedy you are helping cause, nark.You don't have to look up to the skies for the meteor heading your way, nark. It's coming at you through the raster screen you are staring at.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on April 08, 2000 at 15:45:22 PT
Good Points!
kaptinemo,I really enjoy what you write. I feel so fortunate to have people who care and make this web site just so down right cool. I'm sorry that seems like I'm bragging and I don't mean it that way but I am proud of all of you who take the time and share your feelings. It makes CannabisNews seem so complete to me and thanks again!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on April 08, 2000 at 09:58:45 PT:
The harder they're hit, the louder they scream
I've drawn a lot (seemingly valid!) historical parallels between the behavior of top Nazi's during WW2 and the antics of the antis. When things were going their way, they were on top of the world, fat and sassy, and daring anyone to take a crack at them. But as they began to loose the war, they became ever more hysterical... literally. They kept telling themselves that they were winning, even when Russian artillery shells were landing in downtown Berlin, outside Hitler's bunker, and plaster was falling on their heads from the ceiling. Right up to the end, they still proclaimed their imminent victory. When it was obvious from 1942 on that the Axis had lost.Well, take a look at Mr. Houseman's attempt at putting on a brave face: he reminds me of those mid level Nazis who depended on their Generals to tell them that rain was wet. They are truly afraid to step beyond the bounds of their dogma (and threaten their meal ticket) by entertaining such ideas as thinking for themselves, aka 'outside the box'. They *like* their little boxes, and believe that you should, too. Start thinking for yourself, instead of uncritically swallowing propaganda, and you start to see the cracks in the DrugWar edifice are growing ever wider and deeper. And they run right down to the foundation. So we begin to see the kind of propaganda mouthpieces like Mr. Houseman coming to the forefront in an attempt (and a pitiful one at that) to provide an intellectual front for a policy devoid of rationality. As a measure of the anti's insecurity, they stoop to character assasination. The more ground they loose, the more hysterical they get. Because they've reached a shocking conclusion: nobody believes them, anymore, save the ones who are truly brain dead... or opportunistic sycophants. I leave you decide which category you believe Mr. Houseman resides in.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 07, 2000 at 21:18:23 PT
We Are Winning!
Thank You Richard! I really appreciate what you and others at MapInc. & DrugSense have done for me. I wonder everyday day anymore how " the other side " can deny that we are right and they should bow out as gracefully as they can. I think it is happening ever so slow but it is happening. What all the activists that have dedicated themselves to change have done is chip away, piece by piece at all the misinformation that we have been delivered for years until the Internet! The Internet and people with the heart to work hard to bring a saner drug policy are doing it. I've learned so much just reading all that I do and the wisdom of all the people is so nice to read. I don't talk much because I am so busy listening and learning. When people of like minds get on line and want to do something about our current drug policy laws you just can't find a better, smarter, more dedicated group of people anywhere on the Net, as far as I know, and it's very nice to call MapInc. & DrugSense Family Home!Peace, Martha
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Comment #2 posted by Richard Lake on April 07, 2000 at 19:52:04 PT:
Robert Housman of ONDCP just lies a lot!
Your tax dollars at work!Yes, Dan Forbes gave me one article, the Brandweek Drug Money article, in hard copy, at a conference. Five other articles by Dan were found by other newshawks. The Drug Kzar has two dozen of his propaganda items in our archives.So ONDCP attacks Dan as a "regular contributor" to MAP? How many of the Kzar's items have been sent in by his staff? No way to know. We know his staff reads our clipping service every day. One item out of 35,000, many sent by editors, authors and reporters makes Dan a "Legalizer."Get real Barry! You know that MAP has not staked out a position other than one of "Moving the Discourse on Drugs from Hysteria to Sanity and Humanity."Why do you stand for hysteria and ad hominem attacks on those who do not agree with you, Barry?How many dollars has your propaganda machine paid today for "Approved Content?"It is clear to everyone, Barry, that you should disclaim any military title. Your actions are not that of an officer or a gentleman. They are, in fact, a violation of your oath.Thank you, FOM, for all you are doing! We are so proud to have you as part of the MAP/DrugSense family of websites.We know that our websites have more external links, more hits, and more visitors, than all the ONDCP supported websites put together (even though they spend a fortune on banner ads). Must really get Barry's shorts in a knot!Richard
DrugNews from the Media Awareness Project
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on April 07, 2000 at 08:33:56 PT
MR. Forbes
I sent Mr. Forbes an e-mail last week,complimenting him on his excellent articles. At about 5:00 Tuesday morning,I got a reply from him,saying he was going to debate this ONDCP guy on NPR,(National Public Radio). The show was "Democracy Now",and I tuned in to KPFK at 6:00 AM,just in time to hear this ONDCP guy,and Mr. Forbes have a short discussion. The ONDCP guy,(Houseman I believe),was obviously the highest quality a#* ole,that your tax money could buy. The host of the show,had to stop this idiot from filibustering 3 or 4 times during the course of the "discussion",to let Mr. Forbes say anything. It was bizarre.This ONDCP guy sounded exactly like his statements in this article.He is probably a scientologist...? Mr. Forbes made this guy look absolutely ridiculous!And he didnt even need to try.......dddd
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