“On any given afternoon, Broward County deputies come across this...”
The camera shifts to a uniformed man apparently violating the rights of a homeless person – but that isn’t the point of the story CNN are trying to weave. A small plastic bag occupies the screen; its contents appear to have been used. The message is clear: worry about empty Ziploc bags.
Sorry, no it isn’t, my mistake. The message is now even clearer: worry about Flakka, a substance that (in the words of Chris Morris’ Brass Eye) is a made-up drug.
“It’s just a huge challenge,” says Lieutenant Ozzy (the chipmunk) Tianga. “It’s affecting our entire communities. From prevention to rehabilitation.” But his broken monologue doesn’t begin to cover the horror embedded in our story because he is not referring to Flakka; the problem isn’t the synthetic stimulant, it’s electronic cigarettes.
“Vaping drugs is so discrete that teens can do it right in school,” apparently, according to our voiceover. “There’s no scent, they sit in the back of the room and they think it’s funny and they’re vaping. And what they’re vaping I can not determine.” Tianga has no clue if they are getting high, what they’re getting high on or what he can do about it. Damn those vape pens.
We cut to the laughable CDC report that announced ecig use has tripled among teens, regardless of smoking status or type of use. But this doesn’t prevent CNN from announcing: “It’s not known how much of that is drug-related,” as if the two can be realistically linked.
But hang on, the Drug Enforcement Agency are here to hype the concern. “We’ve seen that time and time again, where someone has overdosed and then died, that there are a significant number of overdoses related to these types of drugs,” warns John Scherbenske, special agent.
“All of this is so new that no one is keeping track,” says our crack journalist. “No one knows how many people have been injured or died from vaping synthetic drugs.”
Hang on, you may ask, if there’s no mention of vaping by the DEA agent, if Lt. Tianga hasn’t actually arrested anyone in possession of drugs in an ecig and the reporter acknowledges that there’s no substance to the story whatsoever because she has no facts on overdose or death rates, then what is going on here?
“These ecigs can not be classified as drug paraphernalia,” she continues, “and these shops are popping up everywhere, not to mention they can easily be bought on the Internet.”
Maybe Sara Ganim can tell you why she made this piece of news content? She has a George Polk Award for journalism and a Sidney Award for socially conscious journalism after all; you would imagine she had a reason. But from this side of the Atlantic it looks like nothing more than a poor scare story, devoid of facts, piggy-backing on a new technology.