Friday night I watched the NBC Nightly News because most nights I do. While I don’t generally get wrapped up in “are the media telling the true story”, I know that media credibility is an important issue.
I have all sorts of thoughts on the “fake news” narrative from the Trump Administration. But those are comments for a different time.
(As a former television news director in Montana and in Los Angeles, I’m one of those media dinosaurs who believe that both sides of a story should be told)
So let this dinosaur roar.
As I watched NBC News Friday tell the tragic story on Los Angeles Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs… who died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, opioids and alcohol, I was moved. I live in Los Angeles; Skaggs was a local kid who was a stud and star pitcher who died July 1st, tragically.
Friday, we found out why.
He choked to death on his own vomit–an example of how young people do some stupid–and often-tragic things when they apparently combine alcohol, illegal fentanyl and opioids as Skaggs is reported to have done.
The Skaggs family was understandably crushed…and said they were “heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol. This is completely out of character”.
Fair enough. From all we’ve read, Skaggs was a great young man, who made a mistake–a fatal mistake.
At that point, the coverage seemed fair.
Then NBC pivoted and said that “The Skaggs family, like so many, is being affected by the opioid crisis,” apparently oblivious (or worse) to their own report that Skaggs died from a combination of fentanyl, opioids and alcohol.
And then NBC promoted “an exclusive report”…where NBC has “rare access” from the DEA to “unprecedented raids in Florida”.
NBC (riding along with the DEA) went to a pharmacist that was providing “opioids without a license.” Not sure what that had to do—with well anything—but I was curious.
It was essentially –as NBC breathlessly reported–a DEA “unprecedented and sweeping opioid raid”.
They arrested 290 people and have $3.3 million in assets and 600 pounds of illicit drugs.
Guess what wasn’t reported?
If you’re a chronic patient, you already know.
NBC made the case—unspoken to be sure—that all opioid “takers” are addicts.
This is another case of NBC—and all the networks and local media—conflating any “opioid case” with addiction and danger.
For the millions of people who use opioids to manage intractable chronic pain, this is an opportunity to tell the media, “WTF”.
So, let us know what you think…and know that I’m going to send the best of your comments to NBC News.