On 'This Week,' ABC's Jonathan Karl Tweaks NY Times Editor On Being Anti-Tobacco and Yet Pro-Pot Smoking

Sitting in on ABC’s This Week, guest host Jonathan Karl brought on New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal to discuss an editorial titled “Repeal Prohibition, Again.” The unsigned piece proclaimed “It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol. “ Online, the stars on the flag transform into cannabis leaves.

Karl did something surprising. He quoted the New York Times back to Rosenthal, a 2012 editorial championing a crackdown on smoking by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He wondered: Why bash tobacco smoking and champion marijuana smoking? (Video below)

KARL: Were you concerned about sending a signal, particularly to young people, that there's nothing wrong with smoking marijuana?

ROSENTHAL: You know, we thought about that and we discussed it and, you know, we think that there should be a 21 year age limit on it, although, you know, that will be permeable, I'm sure. And I guess the point is, we're not urging people to smoke pot any more than we are for them to drink alcohol or to smoke cigarettes.

It's just that making it illegal was creating a social cost for the country that was absolutely unacceptable.

KARL: Your editorial page has been on the forefront of limiting tobacco use. I mean you praised Michael Bloomberg over and over again for his efforts in New York City. One detail several years ago, you said, "Since taking office, Mr. Bloomberg has been a kind of anti-Marlboro Man, targeting smoking as a public health enemy, which makes him one of the best things to happen to lungs since the chest X-ray."

So here you have a virtual ban on cigarette smoking in public places, which the Times liked. Why are you so tough on tobacco and so easy on cannabis?

ROSENTHAL: Well, again, that's a local decision. And it wasn't made by Congress, which is really important. And the other is, is that tobacco use kills you. The medical evidence on marijuana is completely different.

KARL: OK, so before you go, I've got to just ask one more question. Do you guys smoke pot?

ROSENTHAL: I have never asked the people that work for me whether they smoke pot and I'm not going to ask. I have smoked pot in my life. I went to college in Colorado in the 1970s. You figure it out.

KARL: All right.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis