Accuracy in Media

Newsweek spiked a story that was to run in its January 24 issue detailing accusations of marijuana use by Vice president Al Gore. The story was an excerpt from a biography of Gore written by Bill Turque, of Newsweek?s Washington bureau. The excerpt exposes the falsity of Gore?s claim in 1987 that his pot smoking had been “rare and infrequent.” John Warnecke, a Gore family friend who worked with Al Gore as a reporter at the Nashville Tennessean in the ?seventies had told Turque that was false, and Turque had been able to confirm that it was.

When Warnecke heard from Turque that the excerpt had been spiked, he exposed what Newsweek had done on the Internet. Warnecke said that he and Gore smoked marijuana together regularly over a six year period, on a daily basis for part of that time. He says this went on right up through Gore?s declaration for Congress in 1976. “I was his regular supplier,” Warnecke said. “I didn?t deal dope, I just gave it to him.”

Warnecke, according to the Internet publication, Salon, is a recovering alcoholic on a twelve step program. He says he suffers from depression and schizophrenia, which run in his family, and that he is living on disability. He expects the Gore campaign to make that an issue “despite all their big talk about mental health, about removing the stigma and Tipper coming forward about her depression.”

The decision to pull the excerpt was made by Newsweek editor and chairman Richard Smith a day before closing the issue, according to the New York Times. Newsweek said it was postponing publishing the story until after the primaries are completed in March. The publisher of the book, Houghton-Miflin, also announced that it was delaying the book?s publication until March. Matt Drudge once again helped expose an effort by Newsweek to suppress a story that would hurt the Clinton-Gore administration. A year ago he exposed Newsweek?s delay in publishing the Monica Lewinsky story which its reporter Michael Isikoff had developed.

Warnecke says Gore pressured him then to not talk about this, but he says it has been difficult for him living with having lied to reporters. And while he still plans to vote for him, he feels betrayed by Gore, who has not spoken to him in ten years. He was upset because Gore had asked him not to tell the truth about his use of marijuana. Warnecke lied to reporters at the time and he says his conscience has bothered him ever since. He says Gore is a hypocrite, having spent years getting high and now being part of an administration carrying out a war on drugs.

Last August, when questions of possible cocaine use by George W. Bush were all over the media, Newsweek carried an article stating, “there is strong journalistic justification for confronting any drug use in Bush?s past.” Now that the past drug use is by one of its favorites, Al Gore, Newsweek sees no reason to confront it until after the March primaries that will decide who wins the Democratic nomination. This would have been a big story if it had involved a Republican candidate. The liberal media essentially buried it, cutting Gore some slack.

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