2 Outlets Released An Exposé. 2 Days Later, A Trump Nominee Was Out.

Thankfully, this report came out before he was confirmed.

In an era where the term "fake news" is thrown around left and right, The Washington Post and 60 Minutes reminded us this week that investigative journalism is still a powerful force for rooting out alleged corruption.

On Sunday, the two outlets published a joint investigation revealing how Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino made it harder for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to prosecute drug companies who illegally distributed prescription drugs, including opioids. By Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Rep. Marino, his nominee for drug czar, had withdrawn from consideration.


On Monday, Trump was ambiguous about his support for Rep. Marino during an impromptu press conference in the Rose Garden. He called Marino a "great guy" and noted that he was an early supporter of the Trump campaign. But as news spread of the investigation and details continued to emerge, pressure mounted for Marino to withdraw and for Trump to choose a new nominee.

In the piece, which aired on 60 Minutes hours after being published in The Washington Post, the inner workings of a campaign to pass a law that would be friendly to the drug industry was exposed. Before the law was passed, the DEA was able to freeze "suspicious shipments" from drug companies that typically ended up in the hands of corrupt doctors or on the black market. Once the law was passed, the DEA's power was essentially stripped, and — according to The Washington Post and 60 Minutes — drug companies were able to rack up billions in profits while moving hundreds of millions of pills.

Eventually, the drug-friendly bill was passed through Congress by unanimous consent, a parliamentary procedure that indicates the law was uncontroversial, according to The Washington Post. Few lawmakers, aside from Rep. Marino and Rep. Orrin Hatch, had any idea of the impact the bill would have. It was signed into law by former President Barack Obama. 

Upon hearing the report, Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat representing West Virginia — which has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic — told CNN that Marino would become the drug czar "over my dead body." The position would have meant Marino would head the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"We need a drug czar who has seen these devastating effects and who is passionate about ending this opioid epidemic. I look forward to working with President Trump to find a drug czar that will serve West Virginians and our entire country," Manchin said in a statement. "It's because of the fine journalists at the Washington Post and 60 Minutes that we have avoided appointing someone who could have made the opioid epidemic even worse. I am eager to make this wrong right and work with my colleagues and the President to repeal this horrible law that should have never passed in the first place."

The report and the fallout, which led to tangible change in the White House and could lead to a repeal of the law Marino helped pass, is a prime example of investigative journalism's power — something that is even more impactful in an era where a majority of Americans believe the mainstream media publishes fake news

Cover photo: Shutterstock / Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com.

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