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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

A nation’s divided attention


What you missed during the Kavanaugh hearings

The American public and the media have a strange, but important, reciprocal relationship regarding the promotion of newsworthy content.

It is a reciprocal relationship that tends to create an overall short sightedness in the American public about the world’s greater affairs, but also noteworthy societal developments within the U.S.

With the 24/7 coverage of the Kavanaugh hearings and everything with it, the media and the American public has become distracted. Certain news stories that would garner major headlines have been kicked to the wayside and hidden beneath the fold.

For example, if the Kavanaugh hearings were not taking place, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s decision to sue Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, for market manipulation would have made for a particularly prominent news story, something that could have easily been above the fold.

The idea that Musk was forced to step down from his position as chairman of the board of his company would have been talked about.

The SEC and Musk came to a settlement of $20 million this past weekend, directly after all of the fanfare regarding the Kavanaugh hearing. This story could have garnered the same kind of traction as the Zuckerberg hearings. But we were all focused on Kavanaugh.

This is not to say that the Kavanaugh hearings are not important or relevant, because they are. The American public should know the goings on of appointment processes for the Judiciary Branch, but at the same time we need to be able to focus on multiple major news stories at the same time.

I understand the inclination to give our attention to the Kavanaugh hearings. They are very serious in fact. Kavanaugh will ascend to the bench and could be the linchpin for the reversal of Roe v. Wade. There is a possible lack of access healthcare on the line. Not only that, but with the sexual assault allegations, the hearings have become a way to further discussions prompted by the #MeToo movement.

But while the world is focused on Kavanaugh, there are a plethora of political and social issues that the Trump administration is resolving seemingly without the world’s attention.

The Kavanaugh hearing’s relevance is unarguable, but it seems that the Trump administration, for example, is using this lack of focus on the part of the American people to work unscrutinized and unmonitored.

Negotiations on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), concluded the weekend after testimonies from Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford were given. So most of that weekend news outlets were still heavily invested in the hearings.

After President Trump made some particularly aggressive comments like “remember, NAFTA was one of the WORST trade deals ever made,” you’d think there’d be more media coverage on the USMCA as negotiations were happening.

Even if the American public isn’t particularly interested in the USMCA, President Trump signed an appropriation bill this past Friday, a bill which will avoid government shutdown in December.

This bill is dolling out $855 billion to different departments in the government. I hadn’t seen any news coverage on the signing which was surprising, especially with Trump being ambivalent about signing the bill due to its lack of funding for his border wall.  

Wouldn’t the American public be interested in what came out of these renegotiations?

If things like NAFTA and this spending bill deserve the Trump administration’s full attention, it deserves the public’s full attention as well. Incredible things are happening around the world, but no one is talking about them.

Important events are happening on Capitol Hill, but important things are happening all over the world. The White House is focused on these things, so we should be  too.

The American public’s attention is constantly being thrown from issue to issue, news story to news story with a level of prominence that might be a good thing, but it is also a hindrance.

We are always swinging our attention around trying to take in the most relevant information at the time, but we are losing focus of things that are equally as important.

I’m not saying that we need to completely restructure the way in which the media disseminates news, but we need to be conscious of what stories are being promoted more than others.

We as a society have to become more judicious about the news and the information that we take in.

We have to break free of this idea of singular focus and realize that more is happening in the world than what is being spoon fed to us by our news feeds. 

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