The Post's Jan. 15 editorial "Drugs, TV and Propaganda" was correct in its conclusion that the government has a role in promoting an anti-drug message. We are proud of our media campaign's success in raising the visibility of the problem that costs our nation more than $100 billion and 52,000 drug-related deaths a year. Preventing drug use by America's 68 million children and adolescents is the best down payment we can make on a healthy future.
To assert that this public-private anti-drug effort is sponsoring political "spin" is wrong. The Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked to make experts in the fields of drug use and prevention and public health communication available to the entertainment industry. Our purpose is to communicate truthful messages about drug use and the benefits of living drug free.
At no time has this office vetoed, cleared or otherwise dictated the content of network television or other programs. We will continue to offer scientific and technical advice to anyone who wishes to take advantage of it. Drug use by America's youth declined by 13 percent last year. We are convinced that if we continue to emphasize drug prevention, juvenile drug-use rates will drop further.
BARRY R. McCAFFREY
Office of National Drug Control Policy
The deal between the White House and major broadcast networks for anti-drug messages on TV is another example of this administration bypassing legislation to have its way with the so-called public service anti-drug messages Congress has mandated [front page, Jan. 14].
Now that this is out in the open, will it be disclosed that networks were given extra credit for having one of their sitcom characters make an uncomplimentary remark about a Republican presidential candidate?
I do not like the "arms-for-hostages" element in the White House practice of reviewing scripts of popular TV shows. There is so much room for mischief here.
How many minutes is it worth to NBC if Rosie O'Donnell comes out against George Bush's tax plan? What's it worth to the administration for "ER" to lament that Medicare doesn't cover a prescription? How easy it would be for the administration to use this arrangement as a club against its opponents.
All of us should be concerned whenever the entertainment industry is used as a tool for political purpose. If the practice was so innocent, why didn't the White House release a statement about it?
The next time someone argues to restrict soft money for TV advertising, I will remind them of the potential abuse this administration demonstrated in this episode and how an opponent can be left powerless to respond.