The Obama administration is negotiating a massive new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would threaten American jobs and rewrite laws governing our food safety, access to medicine and intellectual property rights. Yet the negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy. Special access has been given to corporate lobbyists, but the American people and members of Congress have been shut out.
The television news media should be playing a vital role in informing the American people about the far-reaching and troubling implications of the TPP, but a recent study by the public watchdog group Media Matters found that there has been virtually no televised news coverage of the TPP in the past six months.
That’s why I started my own campaign on CREDOMobilize.com, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to the news directors at CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, reads in part:
The TPP would undermine our nation’s environmental, labor and intellectual property standards and ship American jobs overseas while dumping our wages and benefits overboard along the way. We respectfully urge you to give this massive trade agreement the critical attention it deserves in order to inform the American people and shine a light on an agreement that would fundamentally alter the American economy and threaten American jobs.
Our nation must have a thorough public debate before Congress votes on another NAFTA-style trade deal. But given the secret nature of the negotiations and the virtual blackout from television news networks, the American people remain largely unaware of the potential legislation and its effects on our country.
It is vital that the mainstream television news networks provide full and balanced coverage of this major legislation so that the American people are informed about the potential impact of the TPP.
Recently, a bill was introduced in Congress to give the Obama administration so-called “fast-track authority.” If approved, fast-track authority would prevent Congress from fully debating or amending the TPP before a required up-or-down vote.
So far, the Obama administration is facing stiff opposition to its proposal from Democrats in the House and Senate. Proponents of fast-track embarrassingly could not find a single Democrat to co-sponsor the measure in the House. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have joined me and 150 of my Democratic colleagues in declaring our opposition to fast-track authority.
While Democrats have been joined by 23 House Republicans, there is still a chance that proponents can push fast-track authority through. As some in Congress contemplate their position on fast track, it is more important than ever that their constituents be informed of this legislation and their representative’s stance on the issue.
Please join me in urging the mainstream news media to use their unique position as a trusted source of information in order to inform the American public and allow democracy to work its will.
Thank you for your support.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter