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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Re: The Morning News

posted by on October 15 at 9:10 AM

I have to disagree with your characterization of Paul Shukovsky’s pot-bust story in this morning’s PI, Erica.

While he’s certainly been guilty of stupid fucking credulous hackery when covering grow-op busts in the past—filing pieces about grow-op busts that quoted only supporters of the war on pot, i.e. DEA agents, prosecutors, and cops—Shukovsky recently redeemed himself by including a quote from a board member from NORML in what was, when it was originally posted to the PI’s website, just another standard-issue, SFCH piece about a pot bust. And in his piece today about grow-op busts in Kent, Federal Way, Seattle and Des Moines—all run by a large and enterprising family of Vietnamese immigrants—Shukovsky once again includes a quote from that NORML board member:

Jeff Steinborn, who represents one of the defendants in the second case, questions the use of scarce federal investigative resources to go after marijuana growers.

“Somewhere along the line in the federal criminal justice system, our priorities got capsized,” said Steinborn, who is a member of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Look at all the crime out there that needs to be investigated.”

Shukovsky’s piece still gives way more space to DEA talking point than we might (ahem), but at least it offers some balance, at least it lets PI readers know that there are people out there who think that what we’re doing now—raiding grow-ops, arresting dealers, busting pot smokers—is a waste of time and money. And that’s what we were after when we started calling out daily reporters by name on their stupid fucking credulous hackery. We weren’t after anti-drug war screeds—we can run those—just the kind of objectivity and balance that daily paper editors and writers are always praising themselves for providing. From an earlier SFCH post:

The dailies do an awful lot of reporting on the War on Drugs. But they don’t cover it like they cover every other story—they refuse to. On this issue, and this issue alone, daily papers act as if there aren’t two sides to the story, as if there aren’t activists and organizations and politicians on the other side of this issue. There are activists and organizations and politicians out there who think what that we’re doing now—tearing up pot plants, arresting pot smokers—is futile and ridiculous and unjust and waste of money and lives. But they are never quoted in these pieces, they are never asked for comment, their existence isn’t even hinted at.

Paul Shukovsky is more than hinting at the existence of those people now—he’s getting quotes from them—well, he’s getting quotes from one of them. It’s a start, and Shukovsky and his editors deserve some credit for making the effort.

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Yeah, I read that article yesterday and thought here comes another SFCH slog post, but then there was the Steinborn quote at the end. Fairly boilerplate, but at least it was something.

Also, I get the impression (they would never say it directly) that some of the Assistant US Attorneys prosecute these cases because they're expected to, even though they see the futility of going after pot growers.

Posted by Joe M | October 15, 2008 9:57 AM

I really thought the SFCH posts were counterproductive, but I was wrong. They actually worked.

Posted by elenchos | October 15, 2008 10:51 AM

Are you okay, elenchos?

Posted by Dan Savage | October 15, 2008 11:00 AM

Elenchos is fine.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 15, 2008 11:13 AM

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