Journey – Day 8

I began making the media circuit with anybody who was anybody. Previously, I mentioned names like Harry Smith, Dan Rather, Sam Donaldson, Joan Lunden, Dr. Ron Davis, Ted Koppel, Mike Wallace, and many others. There would be many, many more who were media whores ( to me this was serious and to them it was a job).  I thought I had status when I got the call from  ABC and they wanted to feature me as that particular weeks ABC’s Person of  The Week.  I was in Florida at the time and a crew arrived within 24 hours to film me and my family.   Prior to getting the call from ABC,  I received a threatening phone call that said if ” I keep this up that I wouldn’t have to worry about lung cancer”.  Since I had a listed phone number back then I  wrote the call off as a prank.    I did not mention that little tidbit of news  to  the producer of Person of the Week or anyone else for that matter except for my Dad.  I received a call and  I was told by Peter Jennings to watch my back!   I found out later that Peter had a 10 year file on Big Tobacco.  Hells bells, that was strange, or so I thought at the time. (Eventually,  a TV documentary called Peter Jennings Reporting-From the Tobacco File: Untold Stories of Betrayal and Neglect would be aired on 9/8/04  about the tobacco Industry).   Being a novice at this,  I quickly learned to  understand how these narrative interviews work.  Usually the anchor person  (Narrator)  is not on site, unless the interview is in the studio during the interviews. Why was he calling me about watching my back.?  Strange?   He/she  sends a list  of questions to ask, I answer and BANG it becomes a part of history.  By now, I’m getting the hang of  how its done. Not as much fun as you might think with not only a death threat, but also Peter Jennings and his crew telling me to  watch my back…ok????….. The segment ran the following Friday, but I was surprised to see that Peter Jennings was not the anchor person introducing the segment when it aired.  btw, I was watching..  It was none other thanTed Koppel from the show Nightline.  (whatever)?  The show put me on the map for something I was not the least bit prepared for.  I had an ego too, you know?  3 minute airtime. WOW.  The power of the press and media.  They filmed every word I said without question? hmmmmm

I became the “Golden Boy” for the anti-tobacco movement.  I had developed for Tony Schwartz, a Media Guru,(google him, an awesome individual),  3 Public Service Announcements that ran continuously for 6 weeks denouncing my part in helping to addict the youth of America on tobacco in my 42 advertisements.  (I truly believed that).   The tobacco companies absolutely targeted the young people to replace those who quit smoking or died from the dreaded diseases caused by smoking tobacco.( I truly believed that too.)  Those were my accusations in the PSA’s.  The tobacco executives even told me the right to smoke was reserved for “the young, the poor, the black, and the stupid”.    I was a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association.  With these accolades, I was awarded the World Health Organization Medal of Honor as I previously stated ,and the Surgeon General himself C. Everett Koop and Sen. Frank Lautenberg applauded me for being the “whistleblower” that I would forever be remembered. (that was nice).  During the next couple of months, I was grilled by the Who’s Who of the Anti-Tobacco  movement, “what do you know”, “what did you see”, “what did you hear”?.  I answered to the best of my abilities and apparently it was enough for me to summoned to Washington, D.C. to testify in Congress on July 25th, 1989.   From the moment I opened my mouth and told the Congressional panel what I thought, saw, and heard I became the mouthpiece for almost every anti-tobacco group that had been formulating a “strike” against Big Tobacco along with all the money that goes with that kind of “strike”.  That group consisted of not only the usual suspects, but also Senators and Congressmen/women who had a big axe to grind with the tobacco industry.   I certainly wasn’t the only weapon in their arsenal against the cigarette industry, but I was definitely a newer version  of an assault weapon that was being used AND  heard by the media. Apparently the media wasn’t hearing the Surgeon General, the AMA. the CDC, the National Cancer Institute,and the Office on Smoking and Health.  Finally,……. someone who was saying what the American Lung, Cancer, and Heart Association’s had been saying for a while, but was falling on deaf ears.   I began repeating all the infamous statistics that we hear today,  even to this day, that tobacco KILLS, the industry KNEW it, and were LYING about their involvement in the mass destruction of over 400,000 Americans each and every year.  Their products kill and that was that!! End of story. I never questioned where they were getting their information, data, and statistics from??????  By the way, I hadn’t made a dime up to this point in cooperating with “this side”.   That was about to change.  I was too important a commodity and I was able to “be bought”.  I find it odd that “greed will always outweigh fear”.   Greed makes you do wierd stuff…Just sayin

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