Oct
10
2014

Gary Webb & Kill the Messenger, Katha Pollitt on Abortion Rights

Kill_The_Messenger_43208

This week on CounterSpin: The new film Kill the Messenger tells the story of investigative journalist Gary Webb, whose 1996 Dark Alliance series exposed links between drug traffickers and the US-backed Contras in Nicaragua. Prestige outlets like the New York Times devoted serious resources to going after Webb in an attempt to discredit his reporting. We'll go back to the CounterSpin archives to hear from Webb himself.

Also on the show: You might think you hear enough about abortion in the press. A new book says: We need to talk about abortion differently. PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights is the latest from author, poet and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt. We'll talk with her about reframing that conversation.

Apr
01
2014

With Marijuana, the Obvious Is Incendiary

It’s hard to argue pot is riskier than alcohol—but many pundits did

Barack & the Weed Talk

American society devotes significant resources to a punitive approach to one substance, while fully legalizing and normalizing other far more dangerous and addictive substances.

Jan
10
2014

Stephen Pimpare on War on Poverty, Carl Hart on Marijuana

hart-pimare

This week on CounterSpin: The 50th anniversary of the launch of LBJ's War on Poverty is generating a lot of press coverage of an issue corporate media tend to mostly ignore. But what's missing from these conservations? We'll ask author and professor Stephen Pimpare.
Also on CounterSpin today, In the wake of successful marijuana decriminalization efforts in Colorado and Washington state, pundit opponents of pot are forcefully objecting. New York Times columnist David Brooks says he smoked when he was young, and it wasn't so bad, but let's continue to criminalize it; and Fox's Bill O'Reilly says marijuana, texting, and video games are sending our youth down an escapist road to ruin. We'll be joined by Columbia University neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart, for a very different view.

Jan
01
2014

Rob Ford’s Crack Faux Pas

Media fascination with white Toronto mayor’s drug of choice

The "detail" about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's drug use that most seemed to fascinate media was that it involved a drug associated with "black underclass" stereotypes.

It’s important to note what pushed this episode into the spotlight in a culture desensitized to political scandals: A white Canadian mayor smoked crack. And our collective jaws were expected to hit the floor when we saw the “evidence”: video of Ford smoking with a group of black men in a Toronto housing project.

Jul
01
2013

Re-Examining ‘Crack Baby’ Myth — Without Taking Responsibility

Media manufactured a racist canard

NBC's Tom Brokaw (10/24/88) helped propel the  "crack baby" storyline.

A true re-examination would ask: What is it about media institutions that makes them so willing to write off millions of mainly black children?

Feb
01
2013

BOOK EXCERPT: The Origins of Reefer Madness

Yellow journalism and the anti-cannabis crusade

'Smoke Signals' by Martin A. Lee--Photo Credit: smokesignalsthebook.com

On August 11, 1930, Harry Jacob Anslinger became the director of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in Washington, D.C. He would run the FBN with an iron fist through six presidential administrations spanning more than three decades. An imposing, husky, bull-necked figure nearly six feet tall, he looked like a tough law-and-order drug buster. With a large square head, huge ears, a cleft chin, and glowering eyes, Anslinger took great pride in his role as the archnemesis of marijuana smokers. He was the godfather of America’s war on drugs, and his influence on public policy would be […]

Dec
01
2012

Media Laugh Off Criticism of Drug War

Journalists make pot jokes while victims suffer

Partnership for a Drug-Free America's famous 1987 anti-drug ad

To those of a certain age, the image of eggs sizzling in a frying pan instantly evokes the Partnership For a Drug-Free America’s 1987 “this is your brain on drugs” ad. But any group that wanted to draw attention to drug use in the 1980s and ’90s didn’t really need to buy ad space; media coverage was already saturated with sensationalized reporting on crack cocaine and other drugs (Extra!, 9/92). This plentiful drug coverage served to support U.S. government policy, encouraging public embrace of a heavy-handed crack-down that began under President Richard Nixon and was expanded by Ronald Reagan. Government […]

Sep
01
2012

Radicals, Terrorists and Traffickers--Oh My

Creating a potpourri of enemies south of the border

Rafael Correa--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador

In May, a New York Times story (5/6/12) discussed plans to militarize the U.S. presence in Latin America. For some, this might sound redundant, given U.S. history in the region. Others might be struck by the notion that a nation embroiled in two major wars--and threatening to start another--could find the resources to escalate efforts south of its border. The article, which focused on U.S. efforts to strengthen its anti-drug campaign in Honduras, provided a glimpse of the evolution of the U.S. military's role in the world as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down. That role, the Times […]