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Today Show’s Al Roker Plugs His New TV Series ‘DEA’ On…Of Course, The Today Show

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 1, 2008

    In what I believe is a classic example of a commercial conflict of interest, TV weatherman for the Today Show, Al Roker, sat down this morning on the Today Show couch to plug his new ‘reality’ show DEA.

    DEA, set to premiere tonight, April 2, on Spike TV (which is owned by MTV) follows in the footsteps of the long-running video-verite show COPS. The show is co-owned by Al Roker Entertainment.

    Seems unlikely to me that DEA will be as commercially successful and long-lived as the COPS franchise has been for a couple of reasons, including that the federal agency to be championed (and therein unduly glorified) is hardly a sympathetic character, the federal agents look and act like COPS-on-steroids and their Herculean (and largely thankless) task to make America drug-free is a sad and ugly reminder of the expensive failure cannabis prohibition has wrought over 70 years.

    One wonders, are Roker and his partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) going to feature the law enforcement bureaucracy raiding state-sanctioned medical cannabis dispensaries? Will the harassment and prosecution of sick, dying or sense-threatened medical patients become entertainment for American households? Will the American public be keen to watch the DEA oversee the eradication annually of hundreds of millions of domestically grown cannabis plants, 90 percent of which are feral, industrial hemp plants?

    I bet not.

    How about these other DEA-related doozies?

    -The DEA’s flunking grade with the Office of Management and Budget;

    -DEA officers who shot themselves in front of school children while attempting to demonstrate gun safety;

    -DEA’s current problem accounting for all of its issued firearms;

    -Since October 2007, the DEA is a headless agency with no permanent administrator—a rarity among Washington’s federal bureaucracies (and likely will remain so until the next presidential administration takes over in early 2009);

    Believe it or not I encourage citizens concerned with reforming cannabis and drug laws to watch COPS-like ‘reality’ shows occasionally, while paying close attention to observe the inherent policy flaws and contradictions, wasted police resources and what should be an obvious affront to civil liberties that emerge with most every encounter between illicit drug consumers and law enforcement agents.

    Example: In the trailer for the show, DEA agents encourage a crack cocaine user to become their informant vis-a-vis a controlled purchase of “an ounce or so” of crack…and that if she does so, “this will all be behind her.”

    Can a narc in the middle of making a drug bust make such a promise? If the woman cooperates and flips other users she knows, will the incident really be behind her? Are not prosecutors the ones who decide who gets deals and who does not for defendant cooperation? Is the narc concerned with making more drug busts than he is helping the apparent drug addict with her treatable health problem?

    Public servants? Protect and to serve?

    Bottom-line: Are the DEA narcs lying to the woman?

    Answer: Yes, and this is one of the reasons I believe the show will likely fail, because, hopefully, there is no audience in the US television market for a show about lying, uncaring narcs.

    However, who knows? Spike TV’s DEA might just become an unintended version of Reno 911. Which might just make it worth watching, as long as one has ready access to a strong, non-toxic and naturally occurring anti-emetic.

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