Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Marijuana Sensitization, a Media Hypothesis

Editors at the Seattle Times bothced this headline about a Rhode Island state legislator losing his leadership position. The headline reads "RI GOP lawmaker in Conn. pot bust loses top job." This is the first two paragraphs of the story:
The top Republican in the Rhode Island House has lost his leadership position over a recent arrest in Connecticut on charges of driving drunk and possessing marijuana.

Republican lawmakers Tuesday decided Rep. Robert Watson will be replaced as minority leader by Rep. Brian Newberry.
The Seattle Times apparently think the more sensational story here is for a legislator to possess marijuana, not to stupidly endanger lives by driving drunk. Why might the Seattle Times push the pot angle? It appears that the legislator has cover from the Rhode Island medical marijuana law:
>Police say they found marijuana in his pocket. He says he wasn't drunk and he uses pot to treat pain related to his inflamed pancreas.
No word yet on whether Rep. Robert Watson is actually a registered medical marijuana patient. my guess is that it has something to do with the Medical Marijuana Dispensary bill that was just stomped by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.
Seattle Times editors saw an opportunity to put "Marijuana" in more than one headline today, and they took it, regardless of the underlying story. It's an interesting, if bald-faced, example of how newspapers attempt to create coherent narratives within their coverage of disparate events. In this case, it does appear to be inartful at best and inappropriate at worst.

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