After 15,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills were seized in a drug bust announced on Tuesday, Good Morning America warned parents that their kids may be the targets — playing into a larger panic boosted by right-wing media and mainstreamed by local news.
Mainstream media have uncritically repeated misleading information from a Drug Enforcement Agency statement claiming that “rainbow fentanyl” pills are being designed to look like candy and pushed to kids. However, experts say this has no basis in reality, adding that brightly colored drugs are not a new phenomenon. While opioid use is a serious concern across the country, there is no evidence that drug dealers are selling or handing drugs to children. These facts have not stopped right-wing media from fearmongering about the DEA statement as an opportunity to attack immigrants and the Biden administration.
Conservative news outlets have repeatedly pushed the idea that drugs like fentanyl are coming over the U.S.-Mexico border and posing a risk to American children. These claims and stories about drug busts do little to educate the public on the dangers of drug use, but they do create fears about drug smuggling by migrants at the border.
Good Morning America failed to have the nuanced discussion about the opioid crisis in America and opted to use the alarmist narrative that rainbow fentanyl is something parents should be wary of as their children go trick or treating later this month. Uncritically quoting police, ABC’s Stephanie Ramos told viewers about an “urgent warning to parents about rainbow fentanyl pills [that are] the colors of candy.”
“Police say the amount they found just a few blocks away from here could have killed half a million people,” Ramos reported, later adding that doctors are “especially concerned the pills may appeal to teens or young adults.”