The Media Distracted Us
Recently, I’ve been seeing numerous Facebook post that generally read as follows: “While the media reported on Trump, the Senate passed HR 000 which does something terrible for our country….”
Here’s the deal, it probably hasn’t. Since January 20, only 14 pieces of legislation have become law. These 14 were either signed by the President or were concurrent resolutions that were passed by both houses:
- H.R. 321 “INSPIRE Women Act:” Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers — Rep. Comstock(R-VA-10)
- H.R. 255 “Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act” — Rep. Etsy(D-CT-5)
- H.R. 72 “GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017” — Rep. Buddy(R-GA-1)
- H.R. 39 “TALENT Act of 2017: Tested Ability to Leverage National Talent” — Rep. McCarthy (R-CA-23)
- H.J. Res 41 “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers” — Rep. Huizenga (R-MI-2)
- H.J. Res 40 “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007” — Rep. Johnson (R-TX-3)
- H.J. Res 38 “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule” — Rep. Johnson (R-OH-6)
- H.Con.Res. 23 “Providing for a joint session of Congress to receive a message from the President” — rep. Burgess (R-TX-26) **This was the official invitation for President Trump to address both houses of Congress.
- H.Con.Res. 18 “Permitting the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony as part of the commemoration of the days of remembrance of victims of the Holocaust” — Rep. Meehan (R-PA-7)
- S. 84 “A bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces” — Sen. McCain (R-AZ) **This was the first bill signed by President Trump. It allowed General Mattis to become Secretary of Defense.
- S.Con.Res.3 “A concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2017 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2018 through 2026” — Sen. Enzi (R-WY)
- S.Con.Res.2 “A concurrent resolution to provide for the counting on January 6, 2017, of the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States” — Sen. McConnell (R-KY)
- S.Con.Res.1 “A concurrent resolution extending the life of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies” — Sen. McConnell (R-KY)
- There is one piece of pending legislation: H.R. 609, which would name a VA center in Center Township, PA after “Abie Abraham.” That legislation was presented to President Trump on March 1st.
That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. All the statuses that say otherwise don’t tell the whole picture. For example, the “National Right-to-Work Act” H.R. 785 has not been passed. It was introduced in the House by Rep. King. It is currently sitting in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
I don’t really know why I wrote this, but I guess it boils down to this: We don’t beat this administration or bad legislation by sharing false information. We beat it by being aware and taking note of what’s going on. There are numerous resources to fact-check these statuses and reports:
Congress.gov is the best source there is for the status of legislation. You can search for any term and will return the most relevant/recent legislation pertaining to your search. It also includes a “tracker” under each bill that shows you the exact stage that the bill is in.
The government website of your Congressperson or Senator will often detail the legislation that they are working on.
Snopes is often an easy go-to to see the thread of a claim and its truthfulness.
Politico reports on the government for a living. They tend to have information similar to what’s reported on “mainstream media” and details of what happened behind the scenes.
CALL YOU REP OR SENATOR and ask for their position on pending legislation. If it doesn’t sit well with you, then tell them why. Let them know that you intend to vote in the next election too. Target your calls to whomever is most soon campaigning for reelections. If they’re in the House, then they’re probably already running. In the Senate, check here.
Finally, find different(better) media sources. Facebook memes and the “copy/paste” of long statuses about some piece of legislation or government action aren’t helpful, if they contain inaccurate information. We can’t mistake length for truthfulness. Nor can we be afraid to point out errors or call information into question. Find dueling sources too. I don’t read Breitbart news or the Daily Caller because they’re reputable; they’re not. I read them because I know how much it influences President Trump’s actions and ideas. I read the New York Times and Washington Post for more grounded(and somewhat liberal) work, the Guardian for a somewhat international perspective, and the Atlantic, because I find their reporting to be most engaging and thought provoking. To be clear, I don’t read any of these cover to cover. Rather, I look for the content that’s most relevant to the issue at hand. For more visual content, I turn to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” His show is thought-provoking and manages to dive into complex issues in the span of 20 minutes. Every segment of his in-depth reporting is FREE on Youtube. Seriously, he covers content from Charter Schools to the Democratic National Convention, and even Government Surveillance. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC is also fair in reporting facts and diving into complex issues. Her work is also on Youtube. Also, check out Full Frontal with Samantha Bee(also on Youtube/TBS).
I do not watch CNN. Their brand is 24/7 crisis/breaking news reporting. Repeating the same information for 7 1/2 hours isn’t breaking news…it’s just passing time.
If these sources challenge you, good. If they don’t, find new ones.
In closing, I’m not trying to defend Congress or the president, but it’s pretty hard to demand accountability from them if we can’t do it ourselves.