ONDCP Attacks MAP And Journalist Dan Forbes

Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2000
Subject: ONDCP Attacks MAP And Journalist Dan Forbes

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 168 April 8, 2000

ONDCP Attacks MAP And Journalist Dan Forbes


DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 168 April 8, 2000

If you’re unable to challenge the facts, attack your opponent. Barry
McCaffrey’s Office of National Drug Control Policy brought those words
to life this week after assailing Daniel Forbes, the writer whose
Salon.com stories have helped to shed light on the ONDCP’s practice of
paying media outlets in return for submerging “anti-drug” messages in

The Boston Globe ran a story this week (below) that not only allowed
ONDCP officials to say bad things about Forbes, but also to suggest
that Forbes is somehow in cahoots with all of us who work with MAP.
The article quotes a cog in the ONDCP propaganda machine who proudly
demonstrates that his willful ignorance of drug policy extends out to
the activities of MAP.

The ONDCP’s ability to understand irony also appears to be limited.
The ONDCP attacks an individual for expressing alleged bias, while
they have spent millions to make sure that their own bias is
effectively expressed in media reports, sitcoms and magazines. Please
write a letter to the Boston Globe to protest the fabrications and
dirty tricks of the ONDCP.

Thanks for your effort and support.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


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Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Contact: letter@globe.com



Newshawk: Richard Lake
Pubdate: Fri, 07 Apr 2000
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.
Section: The Media Page: D12
Contact: letter@globe.com
Address: P.O. Box 2378, Boston, MA 02107-2378
Feedback: http://extranet.globe.com/LettersEditor/default.asp
Website: http://www.boston.com/globe/
Author: Mark Jurkowitz, Globe Staff
Note: Mark Greer is quoted below. MAP’s Sr. Editor makes a rare comment
following this item.
Bookmark: MAP’s link to the ONDCP Media Campaign


There’s a new battlefront in the White House war on drugs. Daniel

Forbes, 44, is the freelancer who recently authored two big stories
for the online magazine Salon ( www.salon.com ) 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 ( www.mapinc.org ) 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

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.


The following is by Richard Lake, MAP’s Sr. Editor:

It comes as no surprise that ONDCP’s Robert Housman would try to
distort the relationship between Dan Forbes and MAP. We know that
ONDCP follows the MAP effort to collect news and opinion about the War
on Drugs worldwide and provide the results in an educational research
archives. Apparently this makes some ONDCP folks unhappy as just last
summer they had the Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey attack MAP in testimony
to Congress for having links to sites that had links to sites that our
Czar did not like – as if we were guilty of something. I guess they
don’t know that we are not responsible for the content of the sites of
others, twice removed – no more than we are responsible for the
content of the writings of any author who’s work may be found in our

Unlike our ONDCP, MAP has never paid anyone for what they

Yes, Dan Forbes did ask me to add the Brandweek article Drug Money to
our archives at a seminar. At the time I doubt he even knew about the
MAP efforts other than that we gathered drug policy related items and
placed them on the web. I took a copy, OCRed it, and added it to the
archives. This is not unusual at all. Editors, reporters and authors
frequently send their published writings from their newspapers and
magazines to editor@mapinc.org – just as they use our archives for
research for their writing. However, of the six articles in our
archives by Dan Forbes, only that one was provided by him. Our
NewsHawks found the others. Mr. Forbes is hardly a “regular

Maybe ONDCP thinks this is somehow unfair? We note that there are over
two dozen items by the Czar himself in our archives. We have no idea
if any were newshawked by someone from ONDCP to us – but they are
welcome to contribute. We promise not to ask for any of the ONDCP
payola funds in exchange!

It is interesting that ONDCP’s Robert Housman would say Dan Forbes, or
Michael Massing, or anyone is biased. Their ad hominem attacks don’t
represent a bias? Well, I guess it would be too much to ask our
taxpayer supported point team for ‘approved’ drug war media content to
adopt MAP’s motto of “Moving the Discourse on Drugs from Hysteria to
Sanity and Humanity.”

(NOTE: to see a list of items cataloged in the MAP archive authored by
both Forbes and drug czar Barry McCaffrey see URL:



Dear Editor:

In general I applaud Mark Jurkowitz for accurate reporting (Online
Journalist Tangles With Feds Over Antidrug Ad Policy BG 4/7.) The
items I would take issue with in his article are the predictably
inaccurate statements by ONDCP spokesman Robert Housman who referred
to the Media Awareness Project (MAP) as “an organization that
essentially advocates for the legalization of drugs.” I will endorse
or oppose “legalization” if Housman will define it. If he means crack
vending machines in the junior high schools I am adamantly opposed. If
he means sensible alternatives to the boondoggle of a policy we
currently endure I am likely a proponent.

MAP and DrugSense comprise a non profit organization that provides
more in the way of accuracy and fact on drug policy than ONDCP could
ever hope to compete with. ONDCP director Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey
has been documented in advancing more fabrications, distortions and
half truths on drug policy matters than perhaps all prior drug czars
combined. Many of these inaccuracies have been documented in the MAP
news archive (www.mapinc.org) and in the collection of ads entitled
“Is truth a casually of the drug war” run by Common Sense for Drug
Policy (www.csdp.org). These ads have appeared in major publications
nationwide and can be accessed off the DrugSense web page
(www.drugsense.org). They document the ONDCP and McCaffrey as at least
being horribly misinformed.

Housman also claims that journalist Dan Forbes “has been a regular
contributor to the Media Awareness Project’s Website.” Yet another
fallacy. Forbes has made MAP aware of but one single article that he
authored in Brand Week entitled “Drug Money” and our archive contains
a total of six articles by Forbes out of 35,000 total articles. The
MAP archive also contains no less than 25 articles by Drug Czar Barry
McCaffrey not to mention hundreds of articles in which McCaffrey is
quoted. ONDCP employees access the MAP archive on a daily basis and we
have received letters of appreciation from a number of them for the
accurate research service it provides.

It sounds to me as if the ones with less than journalistic integrity
might be our “leaders” at ONDCP who steadfastly refuse to admit that
existing drug policy is a monumentally expensive and unassailably
failed policy.

Mark Greer
Executive Director
DrugSense (MAP Inc.)

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