Although, Trump’s budget isn’t likely to pass at this time, his proposed cuts to the US Department of Agriculture reflect his obvious distaste for anything that gives any power or control of the common good to anyone other than corporations. The video above, produced by the team at act.tv, documents the details of his proposed USDA cuts. Highlights of his plan include taking food out of the mouths of hungry children and families by cutting SNAP (a.k.a. food stamps) by a whopping 25%, making environmentally safe farming unaffordable to farmers, and shuttering scientific research facilities that just so happen to study the massive bee die offs, lest we should find even more damning evidence that agri-giant Monsanto’s products are set to cause large scale destabilization of our food system.
Trump is a great friend of Monsanto. Go here to see how he is poised to bless the merger of Bayer and Monsanto and what you can do right now to stop it.
NPR covered the story this week. And in true NPR fashion, they failed to give any context that might make a truly educated voter out of their listeners.
NPR News has perfected the art of making otherwise intelligent people believe they are well informed, while providing misdirection and fluff that does the exact opposite. This story is a perfect example. It begins with USDA officials voicing unhappiness about the budget cuts but agreeing to carry out the wishes of the administration because "It's my job to implement that plan" said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Was Mr. Perdue goose-stepping at the time? They didn’t say. The underlying message sent is that resignation is the appropriate response to this horror. “We don’t like it, but, eh, what can you do?” NPR is normalizing ‘fall in line’ behavior as the reasonable response to Trumps’ tyranny and using Secretary Sonny Perdue to set an example for the listening audience. All of that sub-contextual information was literally just the first half-paragraph of the story.
NPR’s story points out that the budget reduces funding for the Agricultural Research Service by $360 million which would mean closing the doors at 17 research centers. The story fails to mention what these research centers study, lest they arm the populace with information who might then use said information to make logical and humane choices at the voting booth. FYI, the research centers happen to study what is killing the bees and threatening to destabilize the entire food supply.
NPR points out that changes in the budget will limit the ability of large farmers to take advantage of government insurance programs and cut government subsidies by more than $2.5 billion each year. If you are not an expert in farm subsidies, this information is akin to flatulence in the wind and almost sounds like a good idea. The fact that the proposed cuts will cost taxpayers more by increasing farmer reliance on ad hoc disaster assistance might be useful knowledge for democratic decision-making. So too would knowing that the cuts eliminate any new enrollment in programs that support farmers being good environmental stewards and help farms become even more sustainable, benefiting everyone.
NPR goes on to report on the cuts to SNAP (food stamps) by saying “The impact of those cuts, however, is dwarfed by proposed restrictions on the SNAP program, which helps the poor buy food.” The word choice creates fear and suggests the writer is outraged by this particular cut. It is the proper stance for a media outlet with a mostly liberal audience. It actually gives the audience the message that the station is on the side of the people. I suppose that is an important façade to keep up if your name is National PUBLIC Radio.
One final nauseating piece of reportage worth highlighting is the implication that listeners don't need to do anything at all to combat the USDA cuts. The story closes with reassurances that the budget is disliked on a bi-partisan basis and gives quotes from congresspersons assuring that this particular piece of budget legislation is going nowhere.
“All of this, of course, is merely a proposal for Congress to consider, and by all indications, Congress is inclined to reject much of it.”
The story is uninformative, misleading, fear mongering while at the same time sub-contextually suggesting that people don’t need to take an active role as a citizen in our democracy. NPR gets off looking like the are allied with the majority of Americans, and certainly a majority of their own listeners, who oppose Trump’s agenda while at the same time doing all they can to disempower the listenership enough to ensure his agenda gets carried out.
Luckily many Americans are hip to the fact that NPR gets a large amount of funding from corporate agriculture, war-machine, fossil fuel industries, and other merchants of death. You can help make more folks aware of this by sharing this article.
Julianna Forlano is a writer, professor, and media expert who was once the only liberal host on all of Fox News Radio while at the same time hosting on the Pacifica Network. She currently writes, produces and hosts at act.tv. She is a professor at The City University of New York at Brooklyn College and trains organizations in effective communication for mobilizing action.