We awoke this morning to learn that local Boise news anchor Mark Johnson had achieved viral status on social media when his news station, KTVB, tweeted this:
The tweet, lacking any sort of context, just putting “Mark Johnson” out there, led to a flurry of retweets from people questioning it to making fun of it, leading to this tweet from the official office of the Idaho governor, Brad Little:
While the rest of America is enjoying the frivolity of it all, for us it doesn’t seem so funny.
Yesterday, we threw our first 4/20 rally on the Capitol Steps. We were excited to see coverage from two local news stations, including KTVB. As we watched the 5pm newscast, the video and interview were fine, but the tone taken by Mark Johnson left a little to be desired, especially as he spat out the words “pro-pot.”
But then for the 6pm newscast, Mark Johnson ended the one-minute piece slightly differently. The script, as still printed on the KTVB website, ended with a retelling of our spokesperson’s quote that the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act “would also create a system of dispensaries and growers like what we see in our neighboring state of Montana.”
But when Mark Johnson ended the piece for 6pm, he said, “like what we see in our neighboring states of Montana and Oregon.”
It’s a subtle thing, but important. Throughout the legislative session, opponents of medical marijuana in Idaho made a point of tying it to Oregon. By doing so, they can then play on fears of liberals, the riots happening in Portland, and the evolution of policy there from medical marijuana to recreational marijuana to drug decriminalization.
Our spokesperson and our educational outreach have always emphasized that Idaho is not a liberal west coast state, so a better comparison for how marijuana could proceed in Idaho is the neighboring state of Montana.
So, for Mark Johnson to not only put words in our spokesperson’s mouth, after having strictly read from the script not an hour before, and to choose the framing of our opponents (why didn’t he add “and Washington”) gives us the feeling that Mark Johnson is no fan of marijuana.
Then for the governor to tweet out such silliness to ride a wave of viral fame was also a slap in the face. Mark Johnson’s right to circulate an initiative petition was just virtually taken away by that governor’s signature this week.
And what of the hundreds of “Mark Johnsons” who’ve been forced to leave this state because they or a loved one needed medical cannabis to survive? You know, the ones who left Idaho for, say, Oregon? Maybe they’d like to return, too.
Or is Idaho only a state for healthy Mark Johnsons who hate weed?