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Modern American news media is almost entirely focused on negative, salacious or fear-mongering stories, with positive "feel good" pieces often marginalized or non-existent. Dr. Drew Pinsky began noticing this after several interviews he had with journalists were very pleasant, but ended up being borderline smear pieces once they had gone through the editorial process and published. In a phone interview with the editor of the New York Times, the editor stated he was simply not interested in running any story about Pinsky at all unless he could put a negative spin on it, because positive stories don't sell. One of the more problematic features of these stories is the use of critical remarks made by other people about Pinsky despite the fact that such persons have literally no expertise or training on the area they are commenting about. As Pinsky himself bluntly put it, these stories put a homeless transient's opinion regarding medical practices on the same level as a doctor with 30 years experience. Even on the rare occasions a news outlet consults a truly qualified medical professional, journalists will shamelessly cherry-pick or manipulate their sources. One way this happens is to deliberately seek out individuals with unpopular, fringe ideas or practices, while ignoring the vast majority of professionals that agree with or praise Pinsky's work. Another is to use individuals unfamiliar with the matter at hand entirely, wherein the journalist provides that doctor with a distorted version of events, eliciting an opinion on that concocted story rather than the truth.

Notable incidents Edit

Tom Cruise aka "Calling a Jewish doctor a Nazi just to promote your crappy film" Edit

In 2008 Pinsky made an offhand comment in a Playboy magazine interview about actor Tom Cruise's interest in Scientology possibly coming from his history of abuse and/or neglect as a child. While Cruise has been interviewed and even recorded on film talking openly about his neglect by his father, his attorney Bert Fields released a vitriolic statement that compared Pinsky to Joseph Goebbels for implying "the absurdity that all Scientologists are mentally ill" and tried to claim he was not a physician, but a TV performer. Pinsky and his fans took particular offense to this, as he not only is a licensed physician, but he is of Jewish heritage. Furthermore, the general public had no problem with what Pinsky said, as it is generally accepted by most people around the world that Scientologists are all mentally ill and/or have childhood or psychiatric issues that made them vulnerable to the cult's recruitment tactics, with Cruise in particular widely regarded as unstable due to his many strange behaviors in the media.[1] Pinsky's publicist released a statement indicating that he meant no offense to Cruise and subtly warned that Field's mark could be tantamount to actionable slander. No action arose out of this incident, and it was later revealed that the remark about Goebbels was a veiled publicity reference to Cruise's film Valkyrie, which was released 5 months later.

Las Encinas Hospital aka "Not understanding who's in charge or where anything is" Edit

In 2009, Rong-Gong Lin, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, attempted to grab headlines by connecting Pinsky with a series of staff-misconduct incidents at Las Encinas Hospital. While Pinsky was not involved in any of them, Lin claimed that he shared responsibility because he was "medical director" of the hospital. This backfired when Pinsky and other sources pointed out that he was not the director, but rather was one of several co-directors that only oversee the Chemical Dependency Unit, which is located in an entirely separate set of buildings from the main hospital where the misconduct occurred. This smear piece and others from the Los Angeles Times eventually resulted in many of the staff in the Chemical Dependency Unit leaving, ultimately resulting in the what some called the "holy grail of addiction treatment teams" being destroyed and Celebrity Rehab discontinued. Drew has since refused to ever speak to the Los Angeles Times again, stating he would rather speak to any other outlet, including TMZ and The National Enquirer.

Lindsey Lohan aka "Calling the cops on a drug user for using drugs is not framing them" Edit

In April 2010 Pinsky received criticism for a remark he made about Lindsey Lohan that, if he were her father, he would arrange for her to be caught by police with her illegal drugs in order to force her into a sobriety program.[2] The remark was widely misinterpreted to mean that he would literally frame Lohan, when in actuality he meant that he would simply wait until he knew she had drugs in her possession, or was buying or using them, and then call the police so that she would be caught in possession. Once caught, she could be court-mandated into treatment or at the very least be incarcerated and thus unable to access drugs. Pinsky responded in his own article in the Huffington Post that his remark was intended as hyperbole and a "flight of journalistic excess," not a suggestion as a treatment modality in any way. He stated his intent was to drive home the point about bringing negative consequences to bear for a person dying of addiction when all other options have been exhausted.[3]

GlaxoSmithKline aka "I didn't actually say that, you know" Edit

In 2012, when pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline was being prosecuted for healthcare fraud, the prosecution claimed that GSK "hired Dr. Drew Pinsky from MTV and Loveline as a spokesperson to deliver messages about [Wellbutrin] in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK," presenting a transcript of the David Essel Alive radio show as evidence. Several gossip outlets attempted to distort the story, claiming that Pinsky promoted the drug as causing over 60 orgasms in a single encounter, when he had never made any such claim. Rather, a woman called the David Essel show claiming this happened to her, without mentioning any drug by name.[4] It is only after repeated questions from Essel, specifically when he asked if this can be caused by medication, that Pinsky lists Wellbutrin, Serzone and Remeron as possible culprits; the later two drugs are not made by GSK. Even then, he wasn't promoting these drugs as a sex aid when mentioning them, but rather was stating they are common alternatives to other anti-depressants when the patient has negative sexual side effects from them. Not once did he lie or distort anything about the drug, nor did he ever specifically promote one over the other. Ultimately the courts never even pursued charges or other disciplinary action against Pinsky, as he had done nothing wrong. Pinsky was infuriated by the twisted way the situation was published in news media, but was advised by his attorney to keep quiet about the matter for publicity's sake. In late 2013 he made a remark on the Mike & Drew podcast about what actually occurred. Prior to GSK approaching him, Drew had been publicly cautioning people about the sexual side-effects of most antidepressant drugs, something that prescribing doctors often obfuscated or simply failed to inform their patients about. GSK took notice of this and offered to fund his book-writing and other activities since his public cautions made their drug Wellbutrin look better by comparison.

Endometriosis aka "Morons not knowing what a medical term actually means" Edit

On April 23, 2014, Dr. Drew fielded a call from a man who's fiancé allegedly had a large number of diagnoses, including endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, lactose intolerance and what he described as “no stomach lining.” The caller's intent was to establish if these were related to pain during intercourse. Dr. Drew pieced the man's description together and was suspicious about how it was being framed, stating "They’re what we call garbage bag diagnoses," and asked if the women had been sexually abused, which the caller confirmed she had.

Scores of people who had these conditions but no actual medical training or expertise in psychiatric practice immediately went after Drew for the term "garbage bag," completely misunderstanding him as saying these conditions did not exist and/or were just psychosomatic. The print media, like sharks smelling blood, piled on and published articles that distorted or even outright fabricated what Drew had said, which in turn brought more people who were non-listeners to the show's site, Facebook page and Twitter to spout their vitriol.

Dr. Drew publicly apologized on air to everyone that might have been hurt by what might be, at most, a poor choice of words, but tried to explain what he had actually meant. The phrase "garbage bag" is simply another term for a documented phenomenon called "wastebasket diagnosis." This term and several variations of it are widely used in medical circles, and doesn't refer to the diseases themselves, but rather refers to misusing a disease's name and applying it as a label on a patient it situations where the real cause of the patient's symptoms has not been properly determined. That is to say, while lots of people certainly have endometriosis, there are others that may not actually have it but are given the diagnosis by doctors anyway because the symptoms are sometimes vague and it sounds plausible to the patient. This behavior in turn leads to certain diseases being diagnosed far more frequently than they actually occur, making those diseases into the eponymous "wastebaskets" which doctors flippantly "throw" patient cases into. There are many reasons why this happens, but of particular importance in the case of the caller is when the symptoms are actually caused by a psychiatric condition or otherwise require the patient to confront an unpleasant fact they may be in denial about. In her case, somatoform disorder resulting from sexual abuse. One cause is most primary care physicians are not knowledgeable about psychiatry, usually only having a few weeks of training in medical school. Another is even if the doctor properly identifies the cause, they are unwilling to give the real diagnosis to the patient for fear of how they will react. This is due to the unfortunate stigma of mental illness in the United States and sexuality being such a taboo subject.

Mike, as well as other doctors and most listeners of the show who understood the type of person that tends to call Loveline, understood Drew just fine the first time and had no problem with what he said. Later on the podcast, Drew talked about how the reaction was a classic case of mob mentality and blasted the media outlets for not only running with the story, but making blatant distortions on what he said just to attract readers.

References Edit

  1. Tom Cruise Proves Sanity By Calling Shrink A Nazi | Gawker
  2. Grim, Ryan. "Dr. Drew Getting Ripped For Suggesting Lindsay Lohan Be Framed For Drug Use" The Huffington Post; April 15, 2010
  3. Pinsky, Drew. "If I Were Lindsay Lohan's Father I Would Go to Any Lengths to Get Her Into Treatment" The Huffington Post; April 17, 2010
  4. Justice Department Exhibit 9 - David Essel - Alive! Transcript

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