On Tuesday’s Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham trotted out one of the Fox News audience’s fave golden oldies: Reefer Madness, baby!
One can imagine your typical Fox News viewer watching the segment late into the night, leering in the direction of his sixth Busch Light with something approaching feral concupiscence. The bleary outline of blonde American banshee Laura Ingraham fires up his once-languorous rods and cones.
“Shut up. Shut up!” he bellows to no one in particular. “Shut up. Laurie Inglemanson is discussing the very real and not-at-all-controversial connection between weed and mass shootings! I knew it. Now go fetch my beer!”
Indeed, while Republican politicians’ and pundits’ superpower remains the ability to walk among us with an utter lack of shame, Fox News viewers appear to have developed a preternatural talent for missing irony. Or for failing to understand that they’re nothing but credulous marks, whose willful naiveté continually gets spun into gold through an endless series of MyPillow and Trumpy Bear ads.
But before it can sell more right-wing tchotchkes, Fox first must regale its audience with its own number-one product: sedatives for aging white folks frightened by a changing world.
After taking a few jabs at President Joe Biden (Fox hosts repeatedly mock him for his speaking style and the things he says, somehow neglecting to note that The Former Guy continually acted like a glitching Furby and had an encyclopedic knowledge of things that weren’t true), Ingraham got into the meat of her segment on the uniquely American epidemic of mass shootings. Predictably, that meat was loaded with goopy fat and gristle—and nonsense.
Elie Mystal is on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast today
The gist? It’s not the guns. No, it can never be the guns. It’s the weed, man! It’s always the weed. Turns out the Uvalde shooter’s grandma didn’t let him smoke weed, so obviously that means the weed—and not the AR-style rifles he bought at the tender age of 18—caused the massacre. I mean, how could it be any clearer than that?
Ingraham then went on to discuss some correlations that suggested a link between cannabis and violence—without actually proving anything.
INGRAHAM: “Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson has written extensively on this subject. ‘A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, examining a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents, found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence in the U.S.’ Then there’s this, the National Library of Medicine. ‘Recent illicit and medical marijuana is of much higher potency and more likely to cause violent behavior. High-potency marijuana is a predictable and preventable cause of tragic violent consequences.’
“My question tonight is, why isn’t there a national conversation happening right now about this? Why aren’t reporters doing more to demand information on this potential drug use, in this case and others, both illicit drugs and prescription drugs? Antidepressants have long been known to be a problem for some young people. Or are we all just going to pretend that Joe confiscating all the 9 mms or Beto running a gun buyback program is going to heal and protect our youth? Is that what we’re hoping?
“You see, I’d rather operate in the real world, and that world is a lot more complicated than the anti-Second Amendment, anti-gun activists would suggest. Whenever there is a societal, cultural, familial, and spiritual deficit, bad things are going to rush in to fill it. Guns, gangs, drugs, then there will be harm to others or self-harm. And until we’re honest about all of this, young people will continue to be pawns in a political game.”
Now, at this point, your bullshit meter should be clanging and flashing red. If cannabis is behind this rash of gun murders, after all, shouldn’t we be seeing waves of mass shootings in Amsterdam? Isn’t it odd that the murder rate has dropped precipitously since the early ‘90s, even as daily cannabis use among young adults—one of the most crime-prone population cohorts—has shot up?
Consider this “blunt” conclusion from a 2017 University of Washington study that examined the impact of cannabis legalization on violent crime.
Results indicate that the legalization of marijuana, both recreational and medical, does not increase violent crime rates. In contrast, marijuana legalization could lead to a decline in violent crime such as homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.
Wait, the researchers determined cannabis legalization could actually lead to a decline in violence? How come they never mention those studies?
Meanwhile, you’ll be shocked to learn that the former New York Times reporter Ingraham built her argument around has been trotted out by Fox News before. Of course they’d only mention The New York Times if they had fuck-all beyond this dude’s already debunked blathering.
Following two mass shootings in 2019, Fox host Tucker Carlson interviewed Berenson on his show—back when he was still kind of pretending to care about human lives enough not to tell people to forgo their vaccinations.
PolitiFact was swift to take a machete to Carlson’s anti-cannabis hatchet job.
"This is absolute nonsense," said Katherine Newman, interim chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and the author of a book on school shootings. "There is no link whatsoever between marijuana and extreme violence."
Other experts told us there simply isn’t enough of a scientific consensus to draw Berenson’s conclusions.
Meanwhile, several researchers have taken issue with Berenson’s conclusions.
But [Berenson’s] book has been a source of controversy since it was published in January. A public letter signed by 100 scholars and clinicians refuted some of its central findings and accused Berenson of cherry-picking data and presenting correlation as causation.
Ah, yes, correlation and causation. The legendary double-headed hydra of rank bullshit. One could also say cannabis use is strongly correlated with my sitting on my patio, never going anywhere, and never bothering anyone. It’s a correlation that’s held steady for years now. What does it all mean!?
Republicans are bending over so far backward to pin these shootings on anything other than guns, their heads are finally within reach of their natural docking stations. But it’s all—quite predictably—nonsense. The Japanese love video games, but Japan’s gun murder rate remains vanishingly small. Other wealthy countries have high rates of single parenthood, but mass shootings remain rare everywhere but here. And, yes, the Dutch have tolerated cannabis use for decades, yet our rate of gun violence deaths is nearly 18 times theirs.
Of course, Fox News isn’t all that interested in the truth—or in solving seemingly intractable problems. No, along with Mike Lindell’s quotidian foam sacks, they’re selling their audience hulking laundry loads of cozy confirmation bias.
It’s easy enough to see through, but sadly, it works. Ingraham knows that better than most. And that, dear folks, is why she does it.
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