Drugs Mike Carter and Paul Shukovsky: Seattle’s Drug-Addled News Reporters
posted by April 24 at 16:14 PMon
The announcement came from the DEA. Yesterday at 1 p.m., a press conference downtown would detail a string of pot raids and arrests around Seattle. So I, familiar with the unscrutinizing coverage the daily papers reserve for drug busts, wrote this post to challenge reporters in the mainstream media. Could they ask the sorts of questions about pot busts that they would ask about any other policy issue—why is the government doing this and is the strategy effective? Basically, cover the different sides of the issue.
The Times and the PI sent respectively Mike Carter and Paul Shukovsky. Two smart guys – and solid reporters on other subjects – and they wrote the same old rah-rah stories (almost identical articles) that glorify drug busts. They go like this: feds have announced arrests, they’re cracking down on drugs, about a dozen people were busted, those suspects are likely going to jail. Curtain.
Where’s the rest—like how much the raids cost, if the defendants (or organizations who speak for them) have anything to say about it, if armed raids were the best tactic, and if this will reduce availability of pot? I called Carter and Shukovsky to find out.
Carter: “I think we can let it go that Dan Savage thinks I’m a fucking credulous hack. In fact, we’re going to.” Hangs up.
Shukovsky: “If the Slog is going to award me the super hack of the day, I want a plaque or something. I’m not going to comment to you.”
First things first. Can we get Mr. Shukovsky a “super hack of the day” plaque?
Next, guys, it’s not that Dan thinks you’re fucking credulous hacks. It’s that everyone now knows you’re fucking credulous hacks—on the issue of pot. My polite phone call was your chance to explain that there’s some logic behind omitting the parts of a story that would be included in any piece of objective journalism about these busts—what the Times and PI purports to report—but you refused to talk.
It’s not like you have to take a position to legalize marijuana. Here’s an example of covering two sides of controversial enforcement stories, while remaining objective. For these examples we’ll use stories written by… you.
Carter on a pedophilia case.
[about the enforcement] Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Rogoff described one of the letters written by Weldon Marc Gilbert as a “template for the misguided, skewed thinking of a typical grooming child molester,” intended to deflect guilt and manipulate the boy into not cooperating with authorities….
[question the enforcement] The recovery of the first letter outraged Gilbert’s defense attorneys because it was reportedly found by a guard in a stack of legal documents. The defense has filed a motion seeking to dismiss the federal charges against Gilbert, alleging the government is guilty of “outrageous conduct” that deprived Gilbert of his constitutional right to legal counsel. That motion has been sealed by a federal judge.
Shukovsky on a whaling case:
Prosecutors charged the whalers with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail. If found guilty of also violating tribal laws, they could face time in a reservation jail [about the enforcement]….
Johnson, 55, said he was thinking of the next generation of Makah whalers when he launched the hunt for the gray whale [questions about the enforcement]. “The five of us did this to protect the kids,” he said. “If nobody exercises their treaty right — we don’t have one.”
The Makahs signed the Treaty of Neah Bay in 1855, giving up vast tracts of forest lands laced with streams teeming with salmon. The only treaty recognizing a tribe’s right to hunt whales, it’s an acknowledgement that Makah culture and spirituality — not to mention traditional cuisine — are thoroughly infused with whales and whaling.
Good reporting on those issues, gentlemen. See, you didn’t have to advocate for any position to cover those stories fairly. And when it comes to pot, you don’t have to be the DEA’s tools.