ONDCP's "Cocaine Shortage" Announcement is Pure Fiction

Submitted by smorgan on
This week, the drug czar's office has tricked several newspapers into reporting on a so-called "cocaine shortage":
EL PASO — White House drug czar John Walters said wholesale prices of cocaine have risen in more than a dozen major U.S. cities as supplies of the powerful drug have shrunk, including in high-volume markets like Los Angeles and New York. [AP]
The irony, of course, is that there's no such thing as a cocaine shortage. Really, cocaine is probably the last thing we'll ever run out of in America, and if you think otherwise, maybe it's because people aren't telling you how much cocaine they've got.

Fortunately, Associated Press at least had the commonsense to ask an actual expert about the supposed shortage:
Peter Reuter, a public policy professor at the University of Maryland who studies illicit drugs and organized crime, said prices of cocaine have long been declining and that brief price surges are not uncommon. He said gauging the future of the cocaine trade after just a few months is difficult.

"We see short term (price) increases that go on for three, or six months even," Reuter said. "They don't tend to be too long, and then the downward trend continues."
One could praise AP for including Reuter's comments, but I won't. If AP's Alicia Caldwell actually listened to what he said, she'd understand that the story isn’t accurate enough to be worth writing. Moreover, Reuter's revealing analysis -- which renders the entire report meaningless –- is relegated to the bowels of the article. The fact that cocaine prices have continually gone down for decades is treated as an afterthought, a mere side note, in a story that otherwise regurgitates ONDCP's claims about the effectiveness of its own work.

Distinguished members of the press, I beg you once again: whenever the Office of National Drug Control Policy approaches you and offers to describe how well the drug war is going, just look around. Has anything changed? It shouldn’t even be necessary to ask Peter Reuter if their claims make sense. The idea that we're experiencing a cocaine shortage is so plainly ridiculous, I don't see how anyone could report such a thing with a straight face.

I'm reminded of real journalist Ken Silverstein's recent comment about his colleagues in the press:
As a class, they honor politeness over honesty and believe that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth.
How true -- and depressing – that is.

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Source URL: https://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/2007/jul/25/ondcps_cocaine_shortage_announce