MSNBC misleads public on marijuana to benefit Allyson Schwartz
Those of us who choose to engage in political activism know that cable news generally over-editorializes under the guise of straight news. Despite the rare exception, cable news channels like MSNBC tend to favor establishment candidates with name recognition over better candidates will bold ideas. While we have come to expect this sort of push from the cable news channels, the line between fact and fiction should never be crossed to better sell a candidate. After reading Max Lockie’s article on the Democrat’s 2014 push for marijuana legalization, I became convinced that MSNBC is in the tank for Allyson Schwartz, one of the Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor. Mr. Lockie claimed that Rep. Schwartz has “led the charge” on marijuana reform in Pennsylvania, a claim that could not be further from the truth.
While Allyson Schwartz may have name recognition, her gubernatorial aspirations have left a hole where her principles once resided. Perhaps that’s not a surprise, as Schwartz is a member of the least popular Congress in the history of the United States of America. The recent string of so-called “conservative” votes made by Schwartz make her look calculating not practical. For instance, Allyson Schwartz was recently the only Democrat in Pennsylvania to vote against an amendment that would have protected our Fourth Amendment rights and limited NSA surveillance of innocent American citizens.
In the case of marijuana, Rep. Schwartz appears to be making a crude attempt at shoring up yet another voting bloc (i.e. the majority of voters aged 18-49). On the issue of marijuana, Rep. Schwartz has been consistently silent until another candidate for governor, John Hanger, former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, started gaining traction with his three-part plan to regulate marijuana in Pennsylvania. NORML rates Allyson Schwartz with a -10, meaning she voted against bills like H.R. 5672, which would have prevented the use of Federal funds to block implementation of medical marijuana in several states. Recently, when a group of 18 House members wrote a letter asking President Obama to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, Schwartz elected to exclude herself from the list of signatories.
The only candidate who has been consistent on the issue of marijuana is John Hanger. Unlike Rep. Schwartz, Mr. Hanger did not cherry pick his position on marijuana based on growing grassroots support for another candidate; instead, he has been forward and transparent. John Hanger’s plan is split into three parts to ease the transition from marijuana criminalization to regulation in Pennsylvania. The first segment of his plan is to pass legislation allowing the medical community and patients access to medical marijuana. Following medical marijuana is decriminalization, and finally, taxation and regulation for adults aged 21 and older. Despite pleas from desperate parents and cancer patients, Allyson Schwartz has made a calculated decision to exclude even medical marijuana from her web site’s “On the Issues” section.
After some uproar, MSNBC changed the wording from “led the charge” to “lent her voice” which is an improvement but illustrates the establishment-centric focus pushed by the company. It’s is this type of “reporting” that has slowly pushed politically-minded Americans away from cable news and toward independent shows like The Young Turks. In Pennsylvania, the candidate for marijuana reform is John Hanger and MSNBC should have written the article to reflect that, not to merely find an excuse to give Allyson Schwartz a shout out.