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Friday, August 22, 2008

Stupid Fucking Credulous Hacks of the Day: Tom Banse and Erik Lacitis

posted by on August 22 at 12:13 PM

I was sitting in bed and listening to KUOW and scratching my balls—Derek Wong’s voice always makes my sack itch—when I caught a short report from crack local public radio reporter Tom Banse. It was all about Our Glorious War on Drugs! Here’s Banse:

An Oregon drug task force director says 2008 is shaping up to be a “banner year” for busting outdoor marijuana farms. In Washington State, marijuana plant seizures are running “way ahead” of last year. Lt. Rich Wiley heads the Washington State Patrol narcotics section. He credits the help of low-flying helicopters on loan from the National Guard and federal DEA.

Good work, Tom Banse! You somehow managed to pry quotes out the authorities attesting to the great job the authorities are doing in Our Glorious War on Drugs! How do you do it? But you’re one of our stupid fucking credulous hacks of the day for failing to get a quote from someone—anyone—on the other side. Apparently you couldn’t find a radical pot activist willing to give KUOW a quote about the futility of war on pot. And we all know how hard it is to find a pro-pot politician that gives good quote. And those spokespersons for pro-marijuana reform advocacy groups? Notoriously shy. And where would you even go to find one of those hard-to-locate, harder-to-get-on-the-record, too-terrified-to-show-their-faces-in-public pot consumers that are the cause of all this trouble?

So in stupid fucking credulous hack Tom Banse’s fair & balanced report on the DEA, National Guard, and Washington State Patrol’s busts of marijuana farms, we only hear from the Washington State Patrol and a drug task force director. And, as per usual, the obvious followup questions are not asked: the Washington State Patrol says they’re making real inroads in the war on pot. Hell, they’re having a banner year. Is it true? Is what they’re doing working? Are the tax dollars being spent on this war on pot having any effect on the supply or price of pot?

Done itching my balls, I rolled over, propped my laptop up my boyfriend’s shelf-like ass, and began reading the Seattle Times, where I immediately encountered Erik Lacitis’s front-page story: “Yakima Valley pot growers hide grass under grapevines.”

And I said to my boyfriend, I said, “I’l betcha this Seattle Times reporter doesn’t speak to anyone on the other side of the pot issue either. I’ll betcha this piece is all DEA talking points, all the time, too, just like Banse’s.” And my boyfriend thought for a second and then said, “Get your computer off my ass.” And at first Lacitis’s piece was just as I suspected: Wow, being embedded in Our Glorious War on Drugs sure is exciting!

With the temperature heading to 99 degrees, the sweat is drenching the face of the man in charge of going after the pot harvest here. He is State Patrol Sgt. Rick Beghtol, head of the valley’s Law Enforcement Against Drugs….

In the vineyard, a variety of law-enforcement agencies are represented: 16 members of a National Guard drug task force who will pull the plants, four DEA agents, and narcotics detectives from nearby cities…. In come the young and fit members of the National Guard, preparing to pull up the pot plants. Beghtol shows them a pile of duct tape and, if needed, loppers.

On this day, Sgt. Karl Karlsson, 37, of Spokane, is leading a group of four National Guard members. In the scorching heat, Karlsson and his group methodically start down one row of grapevines….

The pot their ripping out of the ground, all these investigators and DEA agents and investigators tell Lacitis, is worth about $1000 a pound once it hits the streets. But this pot won’t be hitting the streets thanks to Sgt. Rick Beghtol—whose been at this for 18 years, Lacitis writes, which should tell us all we need to know about the Sisyphus-like futility of Beghtol’s efforts—because the authorities have scored another victory in Our Glorious War on Drugs!

Halfway through reading the piece I was sure that Lacitis, like all the stupid fucking credulous hack drug war stenographers, wouldn’t ask the obvious followup questions. He would report breathlessly on what the authorities were doing but he wasn’t going to ask any questions about the efficacy of their efforts. Are all those DEA agents and investigators and National Guard troops stomping around vineyards having any impact on the price, strength, or availability of pot? Would Lacitis dare to ask someone from the other side for a quote? No, of course not, I concluded, before I’d even finished reading the piece.


According to Danny Danko, who holds the title of Senior Cultivation Editor at High Times magazine

Lacitis talked to someone from the other side! He got a quote from someone that isn’t a DEA agent, a drug tsar, a member of the Washington State Patrol, or a federal prosecutor! HOLY SHIT! ZOMG! In all seriousness I literally gasped when I saw that Lacitis got a quote from someone at High Times magazine.

But then I read the quote—and it wasn’t even a quote, really.

According to Danny Danko, who holds the title of Senior Cultivation Editor at High Times magazine, a pound of bud such as grown in the Yakima Valley would have a street value of $2,000 to $4,000. So, in this instance, he says, the cops appear to have lowballed the value of the plants.


Nothing about marijuana prohibition, nothing about the futility and expense of sending all these law enforcement officers running back and forth through woods and vineyards and suburban basements tearing up pot plants. Nope, Lacitis only spoke to Danko about the street value of the pot those Mexicans are growing in that vineyard—and it turns out that the DEA agents and authorities are wrong. That pot isn’t worth $1000 a pound. It’s worth $2000-$4000 a pound.

So it turns out that someone on the other side of the pot issue can be quoted—or brought into the story—but only if his observations make pot and pot growers seem like a bigger threat, only if that persons comments bolsters the DEA’s case.

Stupid fucking credulous hack.

RSS icon Comments


How is it that your whole page is bolded from the first word? Check your tags.

Posted by Emily | August 22, 2008 12:21 PM

Man, this whole post proves my point that a pothead without his fix is like a mom of three kids in the morning before her latte.

Posted by John Bailo | August 22, 2008 12:23 PM

Dan's anger had emboldened the entire SLOG...

If only for a minute.

Posted by unwelcomed | August 22, 2008 12:23 PM

Who says I haven't had my fix?

Posted by Dan Savage | August 22, 2008 12:24 PM

I had to scroll back up to the top of this post because I was thinking "surely this isn't Dan writing..."

Posted by stinkbug | August 22, 2008 12:26 PM

I would love to hear how the accused SFCHs defend themselves on this issue.

Posted by yuiop | August 22, 2008 12:27 PM

not "The pot their ripping out of the ground"

s.b. "The pot they're ripping out of the ground"

they + are = they're

Posted by pet peeve | August 22, 2008 12:28 PM

4000/16 = 250/ounce. that's a bargain if its the good stuff. try 5000/pound.

Posted by max solomon | August 22, 2008 12:32 PM

I noticed the same Lacitis article and High Times quote and thought it was pretty amusing that he didn't bother to ask the High Times guy, while he was at it, for any other opinion.

However, none of this pisses me off as much as the rampant use of "itch" as a transitive verb. Grrrr.

Posted by leek | August 22, 2008 12:32 PM

These posts push me towards supporting the drug war.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 22, 2008 12:33 PM

I had a bad case of erik lacitis a couple months ago. Fortunately it only took a week to clear-up after some antibiotics.

Posted by boxofbirds | August 22, 2008 12:37 PM

Well, as I smoke this totally fine ass Canadian Bud I'm going to count my lucky stars for getting the hell out of the Puritan States of America. I love my country-men but seriously, haven't you all had enough of being told what to do by people you've never met? Seriously... Weed may not be legal here but at least I can't remember the last time I heard of someone getting arrested for it.

Posted by JessB | August 22, 2008 12:37 PM

Seattle Times calls our house about twice a month. We used to fuck with them saying we can't read, or we prefer the Yukon Hearld.
I tell ya'. . .we are always thinking! and a few weeks ago came up with a new line. . .last night they called and we finally got to use it!
We told them, "no, we don't want your paper. We prefer the Stranger because they report better on the failing war on drugs and DEA raids gone bad much better then yours."

Posted by irl | August 22, 2008 12:47 PM

JessB, I am tired of people I never met telling me what my development should look like.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 22, 2008 12:51 PM

Both those reporters probably smoked a bit of dope themselves thus are hypocritical credulous hacks.

Posted by get out of the closet | August 22, 2008 12:53 PM

Bellevue Ave: What the hell are you talking about? Who told you what your development should look like.

Posted by JessB | August 22, 2008 1:00 PM

Why are they wasting our tax dollars doing this?

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 22, 2008 1:06 PM

That's probably the first time the prohibitionists actually underestimated street value.

Dan, you should give some kind of award to mainstream journalists who get it right. I nominate Jack Shafer at Slate, who periodically runs pieces titled "Stupid Drug Story of the Week."

Posted by Furcifer | August 22, 2008 1:07 PM

I wouldn't be so quick to get all smug about Canada on this one, JessB. What I would give to be able to walk into a Safeway and buy a bottle of wine like most Americans can! Here, only Quebec is civilized enough to sell it in grocery stores right next to the cheese, where it belongs.

Plus, decent wine is way cheaper in the US.

Posted by Irena | August 22, 2008 1:08 PM

@17, isn't it because the DEA is an enforcement agency enforcing, you know, laws? Federal crimes?

So every time that Dan reports a youth pastor getting busted for diddling some kid, in order to not be a credulous hack, he needs to balance his reporting with a quote from a NAMBLA or sex with kids advocate about how much money the federal government is wasting on enforcement of pedophilia statutes?

I know pot smokers do not = pederasts, but I'm not sure I get what KUOW or the Seattle Times are doing wrong by reporting that a drug bust took place.

Posted by um | August 22, 2008 1:13 PM

@20: Dan does not make the same claim to lofty journalistic ethics and balance that the Times and PI do.

Posted by Greg | August 22, 2008 1:21 PM

@2 The Stranger is generally pro-pot. Get over it or read something else.

Posted by Hernandez | August 22, 2008 1:25 PM

Youth Pastor Watch gives the lie to the frequently made assertion, which almost always go unchallenged, that there is no morality without religion, that religious people are morally superior to non-religious people, etc. It is a retort, an aside, not a news story.

But thank you for playing Slog.

Posted by Dan Savage | August 22, 2008 2:30 PM

I know too many stinking potheads. I don't need to read their quotes in any newspapers. Thank yopu.

Posted by hohoho green giant | August 22, 2008 2:31 PM

Hee hee, hohoho.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 22, 2008 3:00 PM

You could not hold Erik Lacitis' journalistic jock --yes, that's your sort of image, and level of humor, and realm of your journalism.

Here's a tip, dip stick. Try not to talk about anyone's journalism. You guys just make shit up.

Posted by Dan Savage is an Asshole | August 22, 2008 3:03 PM

Half the time, I think the DEA et all are the ones actually setting up these grow ops, just to give themselves something to do.

Posted by COMTE | August 22, 2008 4:02 PM

I am a bad, bad man. Please don't read my blog.

Posted by Dan Savage | August 22, 2008 4:26 PM

@26 Come on, Erik, use your real name.

Posted by yuiop | August 22, 2008 4:30 PM

Hey Dan: FYI, $2000/lb is more than the price of gold. ($82.21/ounce or $1,315.36 at the time of this posting.)

Posted by TCBATL | August 22, 2008 10:37 PM

That's $821/oz, not $82.10. Gotta watch those decimal points...

Posted by mkyorai | August 23, 2008 9:00 AM

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