Pubdate: Sun, 30 Jan 2000
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2000, Syracuse Post-Standard
Contact:  P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse, N.Y. 13221-4915
Authors:  Paul Bischke & Nicolas Eyle
Note: The ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy website is at:


The column by Mathew Miller in the Post Standard (Jan. 22,2000) was 
distressing to say the least.

In it he attempts to say that Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, head of 
the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was right in trying to 
influence the media to change the content of our TV shows because he feels 
the message is a good one.  "Drug czar?" Journalists use the term because 
no one can remember the alphabet-soup in the phrase "Director of the 
ONDCP." But this week after revelations that Gen. Barry McCaffrey has been 
paying the networks to inject his reefer-madness worldview into primetime 
TV shows, the abbreviation is obvious: it's the Office of National Drug 
Censorship and Propaganda.

We now know that those scary overdose scenes on "ER" were bought and paid 
for out of McCaffrey's billion-dollar drug-war-chest.  What kinds of 
drug-scare themes and Drug War endorsements can we expect on TV shows in 
weeks to come?

How about a Martin Luther King special that shows racial profiling and high 
African-American incarceration rates in a favorable light?

Perhaps a 4th-of-July TV movie endorsing no-knock drug raids, clarifying 
the logic of seizing property from legally innocent citizens, and featuring 
a cameo appearance by Georgia Congressman Bob Barr to show how free/fair 
elections can be cancelled for the good of all citizens.

Maybe we'll see a light-hearted "LA Law" episode on those wacky cops in the 
Rampart precinct of Los Angeles.  Student study guides, supplied by the 
DEA, will include "Knowing when extortion should be ignored" and 
"Corruption? What the heck. It's for a good cause."

For the edification of Californians and those in other states that passed 
those pesky medical marijuana bills that McCaffrey hates so much, CBS will 
feature the authoritative legal documentary "States-rights: Old idea, bad 

And for his grand finale, to be aired nationwide on Veterans' Day, Gen. 
McCaffrey can rig a heroic script for a TV mini-series depicting a 
full-scale military invasion of Colombia.  The "TV Guide" program synopsis: 
"Watch piles of coca leaf blazing in the tropical sun while peasants scurry 
into the jungle to plant corn and beans instead."

According to confidential sources, the Clinton administration, having 
defended McCaffrey's payola program, is planning to use his novel approach 
to aid enforcement of other laws, as well.  Their priorities are 
predictable.  For programs to air between April 1 and April 15th, 
broadcasters will be paid hefty sums by the IRS to insert subliminal 
messages into prime-time shows: "I WANT TO PAY MY TAXES.  I WANT TO PAY MY 

An anonymous Clinton aide projects wide applications of McCaffrey's 
approach in government.  "An ounce of brainwashing is worth a pound of 
enforcement," he said.  American law and politics may never be the 
same.  Thanks, Barry!

McCaffrey's ostensible "anti-drug" messages are also pro-Drug-War messages 
supporting a burgeoning federal drug-enforcement bureaucracy (at $18 
billion it's 36 times the size of the inflation-adjusted 1970 drug budget). 
Irrational fear of drugs leads to an irrational embracing of a Drug War 
which, in its totality, is morally questionable at best, and morally 
reprehensible in many respects. U.S. media should spend as much time 
describing the drug prohibition problem as they do the drug addiction 
problem. They are equally serious.

ABC-TV has already pulled out of their arrangement with McCaffrey saying it 
was not comfortable with his demanding to review shows before they aired.

In his Drug War zeal, McCaffrey has betrayed democracy, which thrives on 
the free flow of information and opinion.  Government-hired speech defeats 
the First Amendment as effectively as direct censorship.  In a free 
society, the government must follow, not shape, the will of the 
people.  McCaffrey should resign.

Paul Bischke & Nicolas Eyle
ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy
205 Onondaga Ave.
Syracuse, NY.