By Ian Powell-Palm
Ian is a lifelong Montanan who is majoring in journalism
On Tuesday, June 13th the GOP issued a disconcerting crackdown on the Press and journalists within the Capital.
Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, ordered early on Tuesday the 13th for reporters to not film interviews with senators in hallways and to shut off all mics and recording devices. It was only under intense pressure that the Chairman reversed this ruling hours later. The damage of his actions are palpable around the nation, however.
At a time when the Senate is engaged in continuing Russia investigations, testimonies, and a secretly drafted Republican healthcare bill, journalist interviews, and press coverage are needed now more than ever. The Republicans released the first draft for their healthcare bill days ago after weeks of silent speculation by both Democrats and some Republicans concerning its contents.
According to what has been made visible to the public, this legislation plans on offering states the ability to drop many of the benefits required by the ACA, including maternity care, emergency services, and mental health treatment, threatens to roll back much of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including various tax provisions, and scale back funding allocated for health coverage of low-income Americans whilst attempting to cut off access to funding for abortion providers.
But what’s unequivocally the most terrifying point of this Republican “health-care” bill is the fact that, if implemented fully, it’s estimated to put 23 million people off their health insurance by 2026.
It’s for this reason that journalists and press coverage are needed more than ever now in Washington. It’s for this reason that their needs to be complete, thorough, and honest coverage of the GOP’s actions and intents. These attacks on journalists have been coming from the GOP and the Trump administration all of this year.
In February, President Trump sent out a tweet calling the New York Times, CNN, and other respected media organizations the “enemy of the American people.” Just last month Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was violently assaulted in Montana by congressional candidate Greg Gianforte when pressed on Gianforte’s stances on the Republican’s health care bill. After the assault, Gianforte wasn’t pressed about his stances on the bill a second time. Just where the congressman representing Montana stands on a bill that will take 70,000 Montanans off their insurance in the coming years is still, shockingly, ambiguous.
As an aspiring future journalist myself, Greg Gianforte, Richard Shelby, and Donald Trump’s actions against free media and journalists not only evoke outrage on my part but terror.
Is this the future that faces those of wishing to pursue a career in journalism? Has Donald Trump’s administration and presidency set not only a dangerous but lethal, precedent for future journalists intent on engaging politicians on hot button issues? It’s difficult to infer what the GOP means by their relentless attacks on the media and journalistic investigation. Perhaps there are ulterior motives at play that none of us are aware of even now.
Perhaps the GOP has realized that with Trump’s approval ratings sinking lower and lower their own platform is bound to become increasingly ostracized by the public and therefore it is necessary to criticize and attack the persons and establishments looking to hold them accountable for their actions. The first version of the Republican’s
The first version of the Republican’s healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act, stands at a 21 percent approval rating nationwide amongst both Democrats and Republicans. How would this new healthcare bill’s popularity have fared if the GOP had released it to the public eye early on? Most likely as dismally as the AHCA. Who can say? What I do know is that media gag orders, assaults on journalists, and hostile attitudes towards persons and institutions who strive every day to keep the public informed about the goings-on within Washington concerning America’s rapidly declining healthcare laws and political integrity need to be treated with a very serious and very real urgency. America’s greatest freedom is its freedom of
America’s greatest freedom is its freedom of the press.
With egregious healthcare bill’s like the one the GOP is proposing now, investigations into our President’s affairs, and a teetering and seemingly inhospitable political landscape dominating America, coverage and information offered willingly by journalists are needed now more than they ever have been. As a future journalist, I see that these actions being carried out are signs of warning: not only of an attack on
As a future journalist, I see that these actions being carried out are signs of warning: not only of an attack on free press but of a lethal attack on all of our first amendment rights. We must remain cautious and keep our eyes open to this sort of wrongdoing.
Our press, our journalists, and our integrity as a nation depend on it.