Hyping Hemp on CBS's 'The Early Show'

It got a little crazy in the 8:30 half hour of "The Early Show" on CBS as co-host Harry Smith, hosted a segment on "organic furniture." Smith interviewed Susanna Salk, a special projects editor for "House and Garden" magazine. The segment focused on "green" fashion and the benefits of hemp. Why is this a big deal? Hemp is monitored by the DEA because it resembles marijuana and as USA Today reported, "The DEA says allowing farmers to grow hemp in the USA would undermine the war on drugs."

Smith acknowledged the relationship between hemp and marijuana:

"And every time you say hemp, people are going to giggle because they think they can smoke their chairs."

To which Ms. Salk, in her response, states that the United States ought to promote hemp:

"But they can't smoke their chairs. Hemp is one of the most reusable incredible natural resources that we have, and the United States is really behind in promoting its incredible use for fuel, for materials."

Although Smith was fascinated with the furniture and the prospect of living greener, he never asked who’s buying it? Why is it becoming such a trend? If this furniture is environmentally friendly, what makes other furniture environmentally unfriendly? Can the environmental impact of manufacturing furniture the traditional way be measured, or is it a theory made up by leftist environmentalists? Just because a tree is cut down to produce something doesn’t mean it necessarily is going to have an impact on the environment. Yet for all these questions Smith fails to ask, he does have the presence of mind to associate hemp with something that can be smoked.

Before this exchange, Smith had begun his segment by hyping organic living and attempted to be humorous by inquiring whether organic furniture was edible:

"Americans, are already, they have a taste for organic food and organic clothing. In today's trend report, we're taking a look at how the organic craze is also making a mark on the world of furniture...And, if I think organic, I think I'm going to eat it. Is this all edible?"

Salk informed him that it isn’t edible, it’s just produced in an environmentally friendly way, which makes it organic.

"This is not edible. But what has happened is that every component of everything that we're going to see today has been manufactured in such a way that it's organic. So it has not harmed the environment."

So far it’s been established that organic furniture can not be smoked or eaten, most people would simply assume this to be the case as the subject was furniture. But what was not established was the philosophies of some of the manufacturers of organic furniture mentioned by Ms. Salk as she proceeded to show some examples of "organic" furniture and explained what makes them organic. Reasons ranged from the furniture was made from organic fibers or from recycled material and such. Many of these companies contain environmental messages akin to that of organizations like Greenpeace on their websites. For instance, the company Earth Friendly features the following statement on it’s website:

"The Earth Friendly Network was created after the owners discovered the many health risks involved in the average American lifestyle. From the realization that the chemicals in their food was going to lead to various illnesses to the environmental impact their buying habits would have on future generations, their quest for knowledge created an unbridled passion to help others make positive changes."

This website also contains links to other aspects of the "Earth Friendly" network, the Hemp Fabric Shop and Hemp Baby Goods.

A second retailer mentioned by Susanna Salk was ABC Carpet and Home. Its website contains the following message:

"We are grateful for the ability to use commerce to effect change and actively look at our effect in the choices we make, our footprint. We invoke new and more informed choices. The process is a progression, growing, like the earth we seek to protect, organically. This consciousness has inspired us to serve, support and develop artisans, indigenous cultures, wisdom traditions, the forests, our planet. Gandhi’s words move us "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Just because the ardent political bias was lacking today, the fact that CBS tried to glamorize the lifestyle of hippies speaks volumes about where they stand politically and how they want their viewers to live.

Environment CBS Early Show