The Biden administration thinks you, the American people, are stupid. That much is clear given its response this week to a Washington Free Beacon report exposing the administration's plan to "fund the distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts as part of its plan to advance 'racial equity.'"
Despite confirming the details of reporter Patrick Hauf's story, the Department of Health and Human Services subsequently determined—more than 24 hours after publication—that the story was "blatant misinformation." A spokesperson offered no evidence to support this claim. Asked for clarification, the spokesperson responded 10 hours later to denounce once again the report as "misleading and misinformed" but offered no evidence as justification.
Media "fact-checkers" willingly repurposed the administration's talking points in an attempt to discredit our reporting. Not surprisingly, the result was an incoherent mess. Snopes, for example, said our story was "mostly false" because crack pipes were "just one of around 20 components of the grant program." (We know, because we listed several others in the report, such as "syringes, vaccinations, disease screenings, condoms, and fentanyl strips.") Not a single word contradicted what the Free Beacon reported.
Another "independent" "fact-check" by a website called Lead Stories (we've never heard of it, either) resulted in Facebook censoring the report for containing "false information." The site was co-founded by a former CNN journalist and a Colorado personal injury attorney who has donated thousands of dollars to Democrats and zero dollars to Republicans, so it must be a reliable source.
Both fact checks have been updated after the administration announced on Wednesday that "no federal funding will be used" to distribute crack pipes to underserved communities in an effort to promote racial equity. White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted that crack pipes "were never a part" of the "safe smoking kits" described in government documents. She blamed "inaccurate reporting" for the confusion.
The Drug Policy Alliance was also confused, and understandably so. The group's executive director, Kassandra Frederique, accused the administration of "backtracking" and expressed disappointment that "they will no longer allow federal funding to go towards putting pipes in safer smoking supplies."
Got that? The administration "will no longer" provide free crack pipes that "were never a part" of the taxpayer-funded smoking kits. Because the right-wing media are publishing "inaccurate reporting" and spreading "blatant disinformation." It's almost as if the White House is full of shit and thinks you're stupid. (Fact check: They are and they do.)
That's the only reasonable conclusion. The administration's story is utter nonsense. Existing harm reduction programs across the country include pipes in the smoking kits they give to crack addicts. Take, for example, a program from California's Department of Public Health, which openly advertises glass pipes. Other programs in cities such as Annapolis, Md., New Haven, Conn., and Seattle, Wash., all include crack pipes in their smoking kits.
These are exactly the sort of cities the administration was targeting when it announced the funding opportunity, and there is nothing in the announcement that tells these communities they would have to modify the contents of their smoking kits to qualify for funding. In fact, the HHS spokesman told the Free Beacon that the department does not specify what is in the kits, leaving that detail to program participants at the local level.
Even after the White House denial that crack pipes will be funded, the administration still won't say it never planned to include them. "The department did not respond when asked by the New York Times if glass pipes were ever allowable under the grant provisions," the paper wrote on Thursday evening.
Like most Democratic institutions, the Biden administration has a habit of dismissing inconvenient stories as "misinformation" without actually refuting them. Administration officials tend to lash out at anyone who questions their authority or expresses an ounce of skepticism. Last week, for example, journalists who requested evidence to back up the administration's claims regarding a military strike in Syria or the situation in Ukraine were accused of siding with the enemy.
It makes sense that the Biden administration would be especially sensitive when it comes to inconvenient stories about crack pipes. But that doesn't excuse the blatant misinformation or their shockingly low opinion of the American public's intelligence. You deserve better and, at least according to the supporters of this administration's original plan, so do America's crackheads.