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Soledad O’Brien, Hearst Team on Special About Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Soledad O’Brien will host an hourlong Hearst Television special on Wednesday focusing on the opioid crisis.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), and Chuck Rosenberg, director of the Drug Enforcement Agency, will be featured in the program, along with a number of physicians.

O’Brien said that the special will address the epidemic, but also try to highlight solutions.

“We take a look at a number of people who don’t have access to what we know works,” O’Brien said, noting that “doctors and scientists know what will work — medication combined with behavioral therapy.”

The special, titled “Matter of Fact: State of Addiction,” is part of an overall effort by Hearst Television to address the opioid crisis. It will originate from the Newseum in Washington, where O’Brien hosts the syndicated weekly series “Matter of Fact With Soledad O’Brien.” It will feature live segments from Hearst station news anchors talking about the crisis in their cities, as well as reports from around the country. The program will also stream live on Hearst station websites.

O’Brien said what surprised her in reporting for the special is “how addiction specialists are very clear on what works. They are not confused at all. Yet very few people have access to what works.” She said that working with local stations on the special shows how the opioid crisis “is both a national problem and local dilemma.”

The program will also look at the latest in policies to address the crisis, including the approaches that have been pursued by the DEA.

Hearst has also partnered with the DEA with promotional support for the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, scheduled for Oct. 28, and they are also working with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a national nonprofit organization. The National Association of Broadcasters launched an effort in September 2016 to coordinate efforts among broadcasters to address the opioid crisis through news coverage and public service campaigns. According to a Hearst spokesman, its stations have run 1,600 stories and aired two dozen specials.

“Matter of Fact” was recently renewed for a third season, through 2018.

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