Just Say No to the Media

Open Access
Roberts, Dredeir Laneentra
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Criminology and English
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Howard Brian Smith, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • Jeffery Todd Ulmer, Honors Advisor
  • crack
  • crime
  • cocaine
The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act criminalized crack cocaine harsher than it criminalized powder cocaine 100:1. Media outlets such as TIME and Newsweek magazine saturated their reports on crack and cocaine with rhetoric that implied that crack was a more potent and dangerous form of cocaine and its use was spreading out of the inner cities and into the suburbs. Drug policy responds to the public perceptions of a problem. Mainstream media directly affects the public perceptions of a problem. If the rhetoric behind news coverage of crack and cocaine was exaggerated, then an exaggerated response to crack and cocaine like the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act should be expected. By analyzing the rhetoric behind the news coverage, the public perceptions policy makers were responding to can be understood.