Soledad O’Brien To Host Live Primetime Special On America’s Opioid Crisis

 To help focus attention on a growing national crisis, Hearst Television will televise a live primetime one-hour special across its station group tomorrow night, September 13, at 10 p.m. eastern to address America’s opioid epidemic.

The special, “Matter of Fact:  State of Addiction,” is part of a year-long multi-platform news and investigative series, combined with community-based efforts, that Hearst Television launched in January 2017 to inform local audiences of the opioid crisis and efforts to develop solutions.

Matter of Fact:  State of Addiction” will originate from the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where it will be hosted by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, who also hosts Hearst Television’s acclaimed weekly syndicated political magazine show “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien.”  The special however will venture far afield from Washington and will feature live inserts from the Hearst stations, interaction with the stations’ news anchors addressing the crisis in their respective markets, and field reports from around the country.  It will also feature social-media elements to enable viewer engagement, including the hashtag #stateofaddiction to post pictures, videos and stories of loved ones in order to create a virtual “wall of remembrance” for victims of the epidemic.

Appearing in featured interviews: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Dr. Kelly Clark, President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine; Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Co-Director of the Opioid Policy Research Center at Brandeis UniversityDr. Leana Wen, Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore; and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Commissioner for Public Health for the State of West Virginia.

The special also includes segments with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Director Chuck RosenbergSen. Rob Portman (R-OH), author of the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA); and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees the DEA.

The Hearst Television stations serve 26 media markets across 39 states reaching more than 21 million U.S. television households.  To make this special available to communities beyond this coverage area, the Hearst Television stations also will stream the special live from their websites and mobile apps.

“The opioid epidemic is a national crisis attacking all communities regardless of age, race, gender, religion or wealth,” said Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television president.  “Local television stations have always been on the forefront in informing the communities they serve by highlighting paths and solutions.  Hearst Television is committed to joining local authorities and non-profit organizations in addressing this crisis head-on.”

“There is no doubt that the opioid epidemic is a national emergency and, quite frankly, a challenging story to cover,” said Soledad O’Brien. “Each day brings more disturbing instances of overdoses and family tragedies, and – although it is hard to watch – these stories need to be told.

“During this primetime special, and in partnership with our local stations, we will investigate the breadth, depth and impact of this crisis, and uncover new strategies and solutions to address it,” O’Brien added.

Hearst Television also announced it will once again partner with the DEA to provide promotional support – supplementing its extensive news coverage – for the DEA’s next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day scheduled for Saturday, October 28, 2017.   For the DEA’s last Drug Take Back Day, on Saturday, April 29, 2017, the agency, with help from law enforcement and community partners and the promotional assistance of media partners, brought in a record 900,386 pounds, or 450 tons, of medications voluntarily delivered to nearly 5,500 U.S. sites.

“State of Addiction” provides reports and analysis on origins of the opioid problem, as well as on treatment, government action, and people impacted in the Hearst Television station group’s communities.   Joining Hearst Television in the effort is the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a national non-profit organization committed to helping families struggling with substance use, which, through its network of regional offices, has helped the Hearst stations develop monthly stories and helped connect the stations’ audiences to vital resources.

Since Hearst Television launched “State of Addiction” its stations have advanced the conversation on the crisis by broadcasting more than 1,600 original stories and two dozen original specials and garnering nearly 3 million video views, nearly 11 million page-views and nearly 6 million unique visitors on the stations’ web and mobile sites and Facebook pages.

In September 2016, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), with the support of Hearst Television and other groups, announced a project to help marshal the capabilities of America’s broadcasters in a coordinated effort to attack the opioid crisis through news coverage, PSAs and community education.

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