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Local Media Blackout on recent trade agreements

October 18, 2011

Last week the US Congress passed “free trade agreements” with the countries of Panama, Colombia and South Korea. The Obama administration considered these trade agreements as a victory for the US economy.

However, if you rely on local news for information on these trade policies you would have been in the dark. None of the local media outlets reported on the October 12 vote in both the House and Senate. The three pieces of legislation were HR 3078, HR 3079 and HR 3080.

There was also no local reporting on how area members of the House of Representatives voted on these critical trade policies. According to Vote Smart, both 2nd Congressional Representative Bill Huizenga and 3rd Congressional Representative Justin Amash voted for all 3 free trade agreements.

Representing Michigan in the Senate, senior Senator Carl Levin voted for the South Korea and Panama agreements, while voting against the agreement with Colombia. Levin most likely voted against the Colombia agreement because of the pressure from some labor groups concerning the high level of union activists being murdered there in recent years, but Levin could also get away with voting no since that agreement passed by a large margin in the Senate 66 – 33.

Debbie Stabenow voted for the trade agreement with South Korea, but against the Colombian and Panamanian trade agreements. Stabenow is in a re-election campaign so voting against two of the three trade agreements was in her interest in order to maintain good relations with trade unions, but since both passed in the Senate by a wide margin she could get away with a no vote.

The only coverage we documented in recent weeks was an editorial in the Grand Rapids Press, which endorsed the trade agreements with all three countries.

This lack of coverage on substantive economic policy issues underscores the point we made last week about why the local commercial news media won’t get the Occupy movements, because they fail the public miserably when it comes to reporting on critical economic issues.

But what the heck, at least the Grand Rapids Press, channel 8 and channel 13 all reported that Rob Bliss is auctioning off his big water slide. This is news we can all really use?


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