Earlier today I googled “Trump response to the opioid epidemic” under “news.” (Go ahead and see what comes up.) At 5 PM a Vox article topped the list. The headline:
Trump’s pathetic response to the opioid epidemic
And the sub-headline:
The consensus from experts and advocates: “a lot of talk, little action.”
The article begins:
If you listen to President Donald Trump’s words about the opioid epidemic, he seems to understand it’s an emergency. He declared it as one late in 2017. And he has repeatedly promised, as president and on the campaign trail, that he will do something about it — that he would “spend the money,” and that “the number of drug users and the addicted will start to tumble downward over a period of years.”
If you look at Trump’s actions, well, it’s a very different story. There has been no move by Trump’s administration to actually spend more money on the opioid crisis. Key positions in the administration remain unfilled, even without nominees in the case of the White House’s drug czar office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). And although Trump’s emergency declaration was renewed last week, it has led to essentially no action since it was first signed — no significant new resources, no major new initiatives.
The second article listed came from the Washington Post via the Chicago Tribune and discusses 24-year-old Taylor Weyeneth who rose quickly in Trump’s Office of National Drug Control Policy to become deputy chief of staff. The Huffington Post summarized the Post’s findings:
Prior to his work for the Trump administration, the only job he’d held since graduating from college in 2016 was working on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Post reported earlier this month. As a high schooler, Weyeneth worked for a family firm that processed health products; and as an undergraduate, he had a job as a legal assistant at the New York law firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien.
The Post’s new exposé over the weekend reported that Weyeneth had fudged details in the résumé he submitted to the government, including the length of time he’d spent at the law firm and as the vice president of his college fraternity.
Weyeneth was “discharged” from O’Dwyer & Bernstien for failing to come to work, a partner at the firm, Brian O’Dwyer, told the paper. He “just didn’t show,” O’Dwyer said.
Yes, he was second in command.
The third article listed is from Politico:
Trump declared an opioids emergency. Then nothing changed.
In addition to supporting the headline, the article discusses what Trump’s policies have meant to West Virginia:
In West Virginia, which has the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, Public Health Commissioner Rahul Gupta hasn’t seen any significant change under Trump’s emergency order. “His thoughts and prayers have helped,” Gupta said. “But additional funding and resources would be more helpful."
And what about “additional funding and resources”? More research reveals that the federal response will get even worse. From last week in Politico:
President Donald Trump is planning to slash the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in what marks his administration’s second attempt to gut the top office responsible for coordinating the federal response to the opioid crisis.
The plan would shift the office’s two main grant programs, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively, multiple sources in the administration and others working with the government on the opioid crisis told POLITICO.
The move would result in a reduction of about $340 million, or 95 percent of the ONDCP’s budget. Trump administration officials say the office would still serve as the White House’s drug policy shop, while the grants would be administered by larger agencies.
The proposal is the latest in a series of actions that health policy experts contend show the Trump administration isn’t serious about addressing the opioid epidemic, despite the president's designating the substance abuse disorder a national emergency.
Has either “newspaper” covered any of these stories? Not that I could find.
Their online search engine does list some local stories on the crisis along with a few Associated Press stories. For example, last Friday both papers printed part of an AP story under the headline
Governors Ask for Help on Opioid Crisis
Unfortunately, both papers dropped the last 25% of the article. Here is one of the paragraphs that was dropped from both printed versions of the article:
The senators took aim at the appointment of a 24-year-old former Trump campaign worker, Taylor Weyeneth, as deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Washington Post reported this week that after the newspaper began asking questions about Weyeneth's rise, he was reassigned to a lower-ranking job. There remains no permanent director at the office.
(Note – the online link to this article includes the above paragraph. It is missing, however, in the printed version of both papers’ Friday edition.)
The Trump Administration is doing a terrible job of dealing with the opioid crisis. And while I have no doubt that our local papers are concerned about West Virginia’s drug problems, it’s hard to take them seriously when they refuse to criticize (or in some cases, cover) the actions of this Republican president. Maybe at some point they will put the future well-being of the state ahead of their present role of being a propaganda vehicle for the Trump administration. Until then, they’re just another rightwing outlet doing all they can do to support the Trump presidency.