Downer Story -- Don't Do Drug Ads
Drugs and Bureaucrats
-- Wall Street Journal
Says It Warned of Drug Ad Problems
Czar Walters' Assertion of Ads 'Flop' Absurd
Anti-Drug Ads Ineffective
Drug Czar Admits To Failed Ad Campaign
Drug Czar Says Drug Ads Have Flopped
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala.
On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE
tonight: He's a Washington monument.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you, as
always, live from the George Washington University in downtown
Washington, D.C. Now let's take advantage of our studio audience.
A show of hands here from everybody. First, how many of you have
seen the government's anti-drug ads? Howie, can we get a shot of
this? OK. How many of them now think they're effective? No hands
-- a few? OK, how many think they're a waste of money? You may be
surprised -- maybe not surprised to learn our drug czar actually
agrees with you.
John Walters, President Bush's new head of drug policy in the
White House. And he claims that the 200 anti-drug advertisements
that have been produced over the past five years have cost nearly
$1 billion, but in today's "Wall Street Journal," Mr.
Walters says that not only are the ads ineffective, that they may
have tempted some youngsters to experiment with pot. So Walters is
asking Congress for another $180 million for more ads. These, that
he says he'll do his way.
To help us put this whole mess in perspective and in the
crossfire, let's welcome Robert Weiner, former spokesman for the
White House Drug Policy Office and Colonel Bob Mcginnis of the
Family Research Council.
CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. You're intimidating me with your
stack of paper there. All I have is a "Wall Street
Journal" piece, but I think that's enough, because this has
got to be the most perverse and yet not very surprising new story
ever, that in fact, according to studies done by the drug czar's
office, these spots actually make people want to do drugs. Girls
age 12 to 13, who didn't already use drugs, were slightly more
likely to want to smoke pot after watching the ads telling them
not to. I mean, could they be more ineffective?
ROBERT WEINER, FMR. DIR. PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, it's an absurd
statement. And it is untrue. And I don't know what the drug czar's
been smoking when he makes a statement like that.
CARLSON: He did a study that showed this.
WEINER: He did no study of the ads that you showed. And by the
way, how many people in the audience are 12 to 17? Any hands?
None. That's who the ads are targeted at. And when you go to
church groups or you go to YMCAs, and you ask those kids how many
of you have seen the ads, the hands shoot up. My wife, who's in
the audience with me here today, found out -- you know, have about
six out of eight, about 75 percent of the kids have seen the ads.
And they say that that frying pan ad that you showed is very
effective. And they say that the ad that the mother who doesn't
talk to their kids about anything else, talks to their kids about
everything else and doesn't talk to their kids about drugs, very
effective parenting ad.
The studies actually show that there's a 13 percent less
proclivity. That's what the testing shows, which the drug czar
said didn't happen. There was testing, extensive testing. A 13
percent less proclivity after watching the kid as smash the
BEGALA: Robert, let me show you Colonel Bob the ad that Robert's
talking about. I think there were ads that ran that were very,
very effective. And I want to start by showing you one of them.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your brain. This is heroin. This is
what happens to your brain after snorting heroin. It's not over
yet. This is what your family goes through. And your friends. And
your job and your self-respect and your future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEINER: The absurd part is they're not using that ad anymore.
BEGALA: In fact, let me show you what they are using now. They're
using an ad that doesn't work.
BEGALA: I mean, take a listen to this ad. I don't know if we can
put it on the screen. Just listen.
I don't think that's technical difficulties. That's the ad that
don't work. I mean, isn't that the problem?
BOB MAGINNIS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Yes, well, that certainly
doesn't -- it confuses me as well. I think it's interesting, Paul,
that, you know, the report that's generated that apparently cited
in "The Wall Street Journal," you know, was commissioned
as a result of all of this great study in self worth. And I was
there when they kicked it off. And I thought it was a great idea,
but it's coming back. And it's bad news.
That doesn't mean, you know, we shouldn't do it in the future, but
it means it's broken at this point. And we've got to evaluate. You
know, and the data's going to keep coming in. I think what Tucker
started with was, you know, a bit preliminary. We need to get the
rest of the data to make a final decision. But I don't think that,
you know, reaching out to kids with messages that are tailored to
them is wrong.
We have a serious problem in this country, especially if you go --
I used to talk to some folks up in Seattle. And I know you've been
there, Bob, where they've had a dramatic increase in treatment for
marijuana, first admissions. Because in part because we have a
marijuana today that ain't like it was Woodstock. It has 15 to 20
percent. So we're getting more kids hooked. So we really need to
get serious about it. And some of these ads, frankly, the report
says they aren't working. So let's go back. Let's fix it. And
that's what Walters is saying. He's been saying since 1997, and
consistently, even Bob can tell us during the hearings he had at
the Senate, he said there's a problem. And this just confirms
CARLSON: Now Mr. Weiner, I don't like any of these ads, I have to
say. And good for Mr. Walters for attacking them. But hold on.
WEINER: They're not aimed at you.
CARLSON: But I tell you what, they're better than what you did in
the Drug of Office of Policy did under Clinton, which was paying
networks, entertainment networks, to sneak anti-drug propaganda
into entertainment without the knowledge of the audience.
Essentially propaganda and subverting art. I mean, is that -- I
mean, aren't you ashamed of that?
WEINER: All right, first, I'm not letting the last point go,
because there was a 34 percent reduction in youth drug use the
last three years of the Clinton administration. And one of the
main reasons was that 94 percent of parents and teens saw those
ads seven times a week. So this was enormous bang for a tiny
little buck of $180 million a year.
CARLSON: But what about the ads they didn't know they were seeing,
that you paid networks to include in their programming.
WEINER: All right, now let's take that -- I actually am not
bothered by doing everything legal to save the lives of our
children. And that's what the office did. Now there was a huge hue
and cry. And so, they changed the policy on that.
BEGALA: Let me come back to the content of the newer ads. Again, I
am not the target audience. Bob has pointed that out.
MAGINNIS: Neither am I.
BEGALA: No, but it seems to me though, and I am a father of four
kids. And so, I know something about kids.
MAGINNIS: You should be concerned.
BEGALA: I am very concerned. And when they started this new round
of ads that President Bush's drug czar made, linking the anti-
drug message to an anti-terrorism message, it was a reach too far.
Most teenagers have a hard time even understanding and imagining
the damage to their own bodies. And to tell them that somebody
10,000 miles away is going to get kidnapped, which while true, I
think was far too attenuating. Wasn't that a mistake?
MAGINNIS: Keep in mind, Paul, the study only goes up to December.
And John Walters didn't become drug czar until that time. So it
didn't really apply.
What Bob said is interesting in numbers. Here's the monitoring the
future. I know you're very familiar with it, Bob, in terms of
eighth and tenth and twelfth graders. The numbers became flat
about the time General McCaffrey went into office. And they've
remained flat. So a 34 percent reduction, at least according to
the government sponsored Monitoring the Future, that's disturbing.
We were in the early '90s at about 5 percent for 5.7 percent
WEINER: You're disturbed by a third less kids using drugs?
MAGINNIS: I'm disturbed...
WEINER: That's a lot of crime down. That's a lot of drug use down.
That's a lot of saved families.
MAGINNIS: It's increased over 100 percent since that time, Bob.
And we've got to go back down to the lower level, when we were in
the '80s. We have to get parents involved. We have to get the
president obviously involved.
WEINER: It was twice the drug use in the '80s.
MAGINNIS: 1979, it was 25 million people...
WEINER: Oh, you're...
MAGINNIS: ...who were using drugs on a regular basis.
CARLSON: I'm going to have to cut this off. Very quickly, we're
going to take a fast commercial break, and be back to argue about
drugs. That's what we're talking about, money for drug ads. We're
taking a hit with our guests in a just minute. And you never
thought you'd see the day, but a Clinton era record is expected to
fall tonight. And we'll explain when we return. We'll be right
CARLSON: Welcome back. In the last five years, nearly one billion
federal dollars have gone to producing anti-drug advertising. Or
have they simply gone up in smoke? The new drug czar calls the ads
ineffective and wants millions more to do it right. Your tax
dollars on drugs, we're debating it with Robert Weiner, a former
spokesman for the White House Drug Policy Office, and Colonel Bob
Maginnis of the Family Research Council.
Mr. Weiner, you threw out some statistics a moment ago. And
without offending you, like many Clinton era statistics, you know,
they're open to debate. So let me throw some back at you. I think
the same study you were citing, a different part of it, the
long-term trends in drug use shows this. I'm going to throw you
two numbers. In 1992, the year the Clinton people took office, 33
percent of American high school seniors had smoked pot. When the
Clinton people left in 2000, the number was up to 49 percent. 32
percent in 1992, 49 percent in 2000. This is not a victory over
marijuana use. This is a major failure.
WEINER: There are conflicting numbers. And you're right about
that. And from the 12 to 17-year-olds went down 34 percent in the
last three years. And cocaine use has gone down by 67 percent in
the last 15 years. It's a huge victory when you consider all you
have to do is look on street corners. Crime is way down at record
lows. The American people are justifiably happy about crime being
down. And we can all take pride, parents, teachers, coaches,
religious leaders, business leaders, law enforcement, foreign
policy people who are helping to stop supplies in Peru and
Bolivia, which used to be huge and now they're not. Colombia is
Everybody's working together as a team effort. And there's a lot
more work to do. There's no question about it. You will have
statistical anomalies, but I want to get back to the ads. When
people say they haven't been tested, this was the most scientific
program, social program in the history of the federal government.
And the testing was done from every stage of it. And they were
tested. Now if the drug czar isn't testing now, get back to it.
Get back to doing the kind of testing we did.
BEGALA: In fact, let me tell you what the drug czar said. Colonel
Maginnis, in our first segment, you said that Mr. Walters has been
a consistent critic of these ads. And I was surprised to hear
that, because I want to show you an interview he did with CNN's
Paula Zahn three months ago, praising these ads. Here's -- look at
what he was saying just three months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN WALTERS, WHITE HOUSE NAT'L DRUG CONTROL POLICY DIRECTOR: We
know these ads will work, and that this message will have a great
effect on people's thinking about drug use, and their thinking
about talking to young people more directly, and forcefully about
drug use. So while we think this will change behavior in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: I worked with General McCaffrey. He's no General
MAGINNIS: No, well I worked with General McCaffrey in uniform,
Paul. So I -- and I have a great deal of respect for the general.
WEINER: I do too, by the way.
MAGINNIS: It's a mutual admiration club there, Bob.
BEGALA: Why didn't Bush keep him, by the way?
MAGINNIS: I can't answer that. You need to ask the president if
he'll talk too to you, Paul. I don't know if he would.
BEGALA: He's not my best friend.
MAGINNIS: The -- you know, I am concerned that, you know, that
seems to be inconsistent. However, John, during testimony, said
he's opposed to it. And when he gets this report, this report was
not his report. And rightfully so. You know, the Clinton
administration put into process an evaluation system. This is what
they got. National Institute of Drug Abuse said you're going to do
a scientific accountability program, and you're going to have to
live with it.
Well, they're living with it. And what they're doing, they're
saying look, we're going to go out and we're going to find out
what's broken. We're going to try to fix it. If the kids that are
12 to 17 aren't turning off on drugs, then we made a mistake.
Let's go back and refit that, and try to fix the system. So you
know, it's unfortunate.
WEINER: They're not asking kids 12 to 17 what they think about the
ads. When they ask them about the frying pan ad, they liked it. I
was in a briefing at ONDCP a year ago. And I raised that point...
BEGALA: Which is the Drug Czar's office, right.
WEINER: ...yes. And the answer was mumbo jumbo in terms of why
they aren't asking the kids themselves what they think of the ads.
CARLSON: Wait, Mr. Weiner, very quickly, I mean, do you really
believe that running these ads, many of which, frankly, kids laugh
at. They laughed at them when I was in high school. They laugh at
them now. Is this really the best way to spend a billion dollars
on the inside drug market?
WEINER: First of all, it's $195 million a year. Are you going to
tell McDonald's, by the way, that shouldn't advertise or anybody
else? Advertising works in America.
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) aren't McDonald's. There's a major
WEINER: People are paying for your show, I think. And so, I think
advertising works in America.
CARLSON: Big bucks, too.
CARLSON: But it hasn't worked here.
WEINER: It's less than one percent of the budget. And what's
happening here is a fight over that minuscule piece of the dollar.
There's a fight by the prevention side and the treatment side.
They all want to get at the advertising little bit of money. But
this is the biggest bang for the buck that we can do. It's less
than 1 percent. And it's making a difference.
BEGALA: That is going to have to be the last word. Robert Weiner,
the former spokesman for the National Drug Czar's Office and
Colonel Bob Maginnis of the Family Research Office, thank you very
much for joining us both.
When we come back, one of our viewers has fired back a thought
about one of Tucker's nightmares. We'll get into that in a bit.
And then, the very next segment, the Republican fundraiser and
chief is going for the record books, while the party uses
September 11 as a fundraising tool. We have some comments and lots
of zeros. Join us back here in a minute.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The money is soft, the liquor
is hard, and both are flowing in abundance here in Washington
tonight. No, not here at CROSSFIRE. Here. You're looking at a live
picture of our president speaking to the Republican National
Committee's gala here in Washington, D.C. This shin dig is
supposed to take in about $30 million in one gulp tonight. That
would shatter the old record of about $26.5 million set by Clinton
and Gore at a barbecue a couple of years ago.
President Bush is no doubt regaling the crowd with stories of his
passionate fight for campaign finance reform, Tucker. But what's
more troubling even than that orgy of special interest money is
how the Republican party, we've learned today, is trying to make
money off the September 11 tragedy. Let me show you a picture that
they're selling, a picture taken by an official White House
photographer, that the whole country pays for, Democrats and
Republicans. That is a photograph of President Bush, according to
the White House, on the phone with Dick Cheney on September 11.
They're selling that picture to campaign donors, so that they can
feel somehow specially, magically connected. I think it is the
shabbiest, sorriest, most pathetic excuse I've ever seen. So this
CARLSON: Is that true, Paul? Because I must say, listening to you
beat up on fundraising not only makes me nauseous, but I think
you'd actually feel a little bit of guilt for that level of
hypocrisy. I want to show you a picture. Perhaps you'll recognize
it. I bet you do. That's the Lincoln bedroom. That's the bed that
was rented by the former president to campaign donors.
BEGALA: You know what? First off, it wasn't. If the president
wants to let his friends stay over, the way Bush senior brought
Ken Lay to Camp David and to that room...
CARLSON: Let me boil it down for you, Paul.
BEGALA: No, September 11 was a unique moment in American history.
3,000 of our citizens slaughtered. And Bush is raising money off
CARLSON: And let me boil it down. Bush did a good job on September
BEGALA: Actually, he didn't.
CARLSON: And somehow it's wrong for him to say so? This from a man
who defended an administration that bragged from day one about
creating 19 trillion new jobs, about rescuing people from poverty,
putting a trillion new cops on the street, curing AIDS, curing
cancer, curing homelessness, and unemployment and indigestion and
diaper rash. The bragging began at the beginning. It has not
stopped. All they're doing is pointing out he did a good job on
September 11. And this is a travesty? Get some perspective, man.
BEGALA: Actually, a friend of mine, named Tucker Carlson wrote
that he did not show the fiscal courage that Rudy Giuliani showed
on September 11. You were right then. It's a big difference
CARLSON: That is actually not what I said.
BEGALA: We'll read it on here tomorrow night. It's a big
difference between bragging about your record on the economy and
social policy, where Clinton was successful, and trying to trade
on the greatest national tragedy in my life, which is what Bush is
doing. Shame on Bush.
CARLSON: I think that's a completely unfair characterization, as
you know. He did an excellent job leading this country in war
time. And I think it's fine to point that out. If Bill Clinton had
been commander in chief during that war, he would literally be
talking about transforming Afghanistan every day of the week.
BEGALA: No, it would be better if Bush had the staying power to
actually keep focusing on that mission, instead of wandering off
CARLSON: OK, sadly, we're going to have to stop our friendly
little chat here on CROSSFIRE. Last night's interview with gun-
loving, venison-chewing, almost choking guitarist Ted Nugent
provided lots of ammunition for our viewers. They and you fire
back in just a moment. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for our fire back
segment. We ask questions all week. This is the time we let you
ask questions, and you do. To the e-mail we go. First up, about
our show on Ted Nugent last night. At one point he choked on a
little of Paul's venison sausage. "Apart from Nugent choking
on venison, he made several valid points. Nugent for V.P. in
2004!!!" Walter M. Morrison. You'll have to agree, Paul, he
would be better than Hillary.
BEGALA: Oh, he would not be as good as Hillary, but he'd be a lot
better than Cheney. The Nugent thing filled our e-mail boxes.
Here's another one from the left. "The Ted Nugent lovefest
was pathetic. Where was the alternative viewpoint -- the
compassionate perspective? Paul Begala has shown himself to be
little more than a bully, needing to pump feed into defenseless
animals to prove himself." From Bill Dolllinger, who is a
Friend of Animals. Well, apparently Bill Dollinger?
CARLSON: That's the spirit, Paul. Get a life.
Michael Anthony of Fort Lauderdale, Florida wrote in about the
idea of Hillary Clinton becoming a vice presidential candidate. He
says, "One man's nightmare is another man's dream. There are
millions of Americans who would love to see a Clinton in the White
House again. Hillary now and Chelsea in the future. Happy
Well, thank you, happy nightmares to you. You notice liberals are
not imaginative voters. If they don't recognize a last name, they
won't vote for them. To which I say, Al Sharpton is your man!
BEGALA: James Irwin of Canada writes in. "Paul, I wasn't
aware that you were promoting child abuse. I have a red-headed
stepdaughter and no, I don't beat her, but thanks for
asking." James is writing in for those of you who were not
taking careful notes last night. I used a figure of speech, a
colloquialism, from the South, saying Hillary would beat them like
a redheaded stepchild. I probably should have said beat her like a
borrowed mule or beat them like a bad piece of meat. These are
figures of speech. And here's another one. Get over it, James
Irwin of Canada.
CARLSON: Right, if you're a humanless liberal, you might not pick
up on them. To the audience we go. Yes, a question?
AL: Hi, I'm Al Raviv from Washington, D.C. And this question is
for Tucker. Will James Traficant's conviction and candidacy for
Congress be exploited by Republicans this coming fall in the
elections of November?
CARLSON: I hope so. James Traficant, as you know, is a life long
proud Democrat, like Al Sharpton, like so many Democrats. No, I
don't think it will be exploited by Republicans. I don't think
he's going to do very well. And he's polling at 13 percent. He'll
probably stay around there. But they ought to exploit it.
BEGALA: He voted 81 percent of the time with Bush. He's more a
Republican. Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that the anti-drug campaign is like
placing a Band Aid on a hemmorhage, completely inappropriate. Do
you think the money should've been spent elsewhere?
CARLSON: I certainly don't think the money should be given to
television networks to put propaganda messages and programs that
viewers aren't aware of. I think that that's wrong.
BEGALA: No, I think that, you know, we spend so much on the supply
side, interdiction, law enforcement. And while that's important, I
don't think we'll ever win the war on the supply side. I think
we've got to reduce demand, get Americans using less drugs. That's
the way to...
CARLSON: Yes, but the bottom line is, if you don't want your kids
to use drugs, tell them so. I'm not sure it's the role for federal
government to constantly spew forth propaganda. There are a lot of
other things. They could fix the road in front of my house, for
BEGALA: Well, from the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good-night for
CROSSFIRE. CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join
us again tomorrow night, Wednesday night, for another edition of
CROSSFIRE. See you then.
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