PATRICK KENNEDY, DRUGS AND SITUATIONAL JOURNALISM
Unless some people have been vacationing on another planet, just about everyone is aware of the latest Kennedy Clan scandal -- or what should be a scandal. Actually the story is scandalous because it illustrates how too many members of the elite news media are blatantly biased. Somehow the term "double-standard" seems to be an incredible understatement. The Kennedy story is a perfect example of the new trend in news coverage by the mainstream media -- situational journalism.
This particular scandal has more to do with whom a story involving drug abuse is about. If the "perp" is a conservative -- such as Rush Limbaugh -- the ladies and gentlemen of the press have a million questions about Limbaugh's drug use and exposure to arrest and prosecution. If the "perp" is a liberal, then the story becomes the effects of Ambian, the types of drugs not to mix with Ambian, and should Americans beware of using prescription sleep medications such as Ambian.
Katie Couric and Matt Lauer interview physicians and drug counselors about topics such as drug-interaction, disorientation, and substance abuse. Even Fox News Channel brought out "Dr. Manny" in order to explain how there are cases of Ambian users sleepwalking. However, he didn't say there were cases of sleep-driving.
Here's the gist of the original story which, by the way, was first uncovered by the blogosphere's king of scoopmeisters, Matt Drudge.
Rep. Kennedy was driving with his headlights off and somehow struck a security barrier in DC. Officers from the Capitol Police were already on the scene (he allegedly swerved to avoid hitting their cruiser prior to hitting the barricade) and one officer described the accident scene in a letter:
"The driver [Patrick Kennedy] exited the vehicle and he was observed to be staggering. Officers approached the driver, who declared to them he was a Congressman and was late to a vote. The House had adjourned nearly three hours before this incident," Baird's letter states.
Baird wrote that Capitol Police Patrol Division units, who are trained in driving under the influence (DUI) cases, were not allowed to perform basic field sobriety tests on the congressman. Instead, two sergeants, who also responded to the accident, proceeded to confer with the Capitol Police watch commander on duty and then "ordered all of the Patrol Division Units to leave the scene and that they were taking over."
Kennedy then began to make excuses and statements such as he wasn't drinking (allegedly a false statement or the technical term "a lie). He apparently was able to make clear and concise statements immediately following the accident. But then a strange phenomenon occurred: Kennedy suddenly had a blackout. He couldn't remember what happened. One moment he remembered what he did and said prior to and after the accident, next moment the poor man's memory went blank.
While the news media concentrated on a steady stream of news stories about Ambian, Kennedy changed his story. Instead of the Ambian sleepwalking defense, Kennedy decided to use the prescription painkillers defense. Big difference. Ambian is a non-narcotic sleep aid, while painkillers are narcotics, some of which are extremely potent. Oxycontin comes to mind, as does Vicodin, Percocet, Tylox, Hycodin, and numerous others.
Now, here's my point about double-standards: the reader will agree we heard much about Rush Limbaugh's addiction, the allegations of "doctor shopping" and the buying of pills from his housekeeper. To his credit, Limbaugh immediately copped to abusing drugs and was clear about his "drug of choice." And the media asked some tough questions and rightly so. A man who commands the attention of a Rush Limbaugh should be held accountable for his behavior. And Limbaugh did acknowledge his accountability. But the media kept the pressure up.
In the end, the news media even lied about Limbaugh being arrested. He was not arrested. As a former law enforcement officer who, for a while, specialized in drug enforcement, I know what occurred. In New York, it's called the Second Chance Program. In New Jersey it's called Pre-Trial Intervention, or PTI. Different states and cities have different names for these programs. The drug abuser is fingerprinted, photographed and processed the same way police process suspects. However, documents, fingerprint cards and other materials are set aside pending the outcome of the agreement.
Then the drug abuser is mandated to enter a treatment program, undergo periodic urine analysis, meet with a case worker and fulfill other stipulations in the agreement. If after 12 -18 months the substance abuser is genuinely in recovery, does not get re-arrested during that time, and fulfills all provisions of the agreement, the documents, fingerprint cards, mug shots, etc., are turned over to the suspect's attorney for disposal. The suspect is rewarded with a clean record. But the news media didn't care if that was the real story regarding Limbaugh's agreement with the prosecutor. They simply said that Limbaugh, after over three years, was arrested.
Okay, fast-forward to Patrick Kennedy's bout with drug addiction. Not one story about where he gets his drugs or how much he's taking. No stories about who's providing him with large amounts of painkillers. One of the drawbacks of drug addiction is that the addict must continuously up his or her dosage. I've personally dealt with suspects who were abusing Vicodin, a powerful narcotic. Some would take up to 40 pills per day. Federal law and some state laws prohibit doctors and pharmacists from dispensing that many pills to any one patient. Usually a prescription for Vicodin entails dispensing 30 pills per month.
If indeed Rep. Kennedy is hooked on prescription drugs, then chances are he's getting them from more than one physician and pharmacist. The DEA closely monitors physician and pharmacy Schedule II drug prescriptions and if a physician is writing prescriptions for large amounts of opiate-based painkillers, red flags go up all over the place. So of a necessity, a man or woman hooked on painkillers will need more than one or two "connections."
Get my drift? None of the inquisitive minds in our nation's newsrooms seem even the slightest bit interested in digging into the real story behind Patrick Kennedy's accident: A powerful government official making important decisions while he's high as a kite. Don't be surprised if you see a docu-drama being aired on TV about Kennedy fighting his addiction. It's good to be a liberal.
© 2006 Jim Kouri- All
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Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.
He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores.
If the "perp" is a conservative -- such as Rush Limbaugh -- the ladies and gentlemen of the press have a million questions about Limbaugh's drug use and exposure to arrest and prosecution. If the "perp" is a liberal, then the story becomes the effects of Ambian...