As Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation is a year old, there is more to the news than Trump’s impeachment, the Russian collusion and the Michael Cohen/Stormy Daniels case, Isaac Newton Farris Jr. argues.

The news media industry is upset by a tweet last week by President Trump that said:

President Trump, in this case, is tweeting the truth about 90% of the news. From his viewpoint, 90% of the news he sees and hears is negative stories about him. For American citizens, 90% of the news we see and hear are stories about impeachment, Russian collusion & Michael Cohen. The news media coalition is quick to play the “we are the public’s way of being informed about what the government and its officials are doing” card. When anyone raises questions about the quality of their reporting. But there is news media bias that exists affecting most news media companies and what they inform us about.

Truth be told news media outlets are not informing us about many things our government and its officials do every day that hugely impact American life. They only inform us about stories that they think will generate news media rating points and page views, calling into question news media creditability. For example for the last 2 weeks it’s been Michael Cohen news media hype 24/7, endless stories about him that don’t impact American life in any significant way, he should only be a front page story for the shareholder newsletter of the companies that hired him not for the New York Times or all day on CNN.

The following are 10 examples of life affecting things happening that we hear or see very little about, and in some cases hear or see nothing about:

1) Bait and switch on federal budget

President Donald Trump has unveiled a plan to reverse roughly $15 billion in already bi-partisan approved spending by both Houses of Congress, a federal budget he signed into law bragging about how the included massive tax cuts were the greatest thing in American history, and the growth they would create would offset the exploding deficit caused by those tax cuts. Now that reality is setting in the President wants to pay for the massive tax cuts by cutting spending on non-military items.

President Trump signed the $1.3 trillion budget passed by both Houses of Congress.
Now he is trying cut $15 billion of non-military expenditures with half coming from the Children’s healthcare insurance. (YouTube/CNBC)

The $15 billion cuts would come as part of a so-called rescission package, which allows the president to send a bill to Congress to strip spending from the omnibus spending bill passed in March. The package would cut about $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which was previously authorized, as well as about $800 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation program created by the Affordable Care Act. Outside of healthcare, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, which helps support the development of fuel-efficient cars, would see $4.3 billion clawed back. Another 30 programs would also face various cuts as part of the package.

2) Fraud at for-profit colleges

Members of a special team at the Education Department that had been investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges have been marginalized, reassigned, or instructed to focus on other matters, according to current and former employees. The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges.

During the final months of the Obama administration, the team had expanded to include a dozen or so lawyers and investigators who were looking into advertising, recruitment practices, and job placement claims at several institutions, like the DeVry Education Group. DeVry agreed to pay $100 million in 2016 to settle a separate Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging that it misled prospective students with ads about employment and salaries after graduation. Now only three employees work on the team, and their mission has been scaled back to focus on processing student loan forgiveness applications and looking at smaller compliance cases, said the current and former employees, including former members of the team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from the department.

3) Elimination of Peacemaker Office

President Trump has proposed the elimination of a historic Justice Department office known as the federal government’s “Peacemakers”, a non-investigative office founded by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it has 14 offices across the country to help communities address tensions arising from differences of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and disability.

4) Payday lenders now free to rip-off public

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) whose full-time job is to protect the American consumer from fraud and abuse, now has a part-time Director who splits his time heading up another federal agency. The part-time Director has dropped a lawsuit against a lender that was allegedly charging interest rates up to 950 percent. In January, the CFPB dropped another lawsuit against four online payday lenders that allegedly stole millions of dollars from consumers’ bank accounts to pay debts they didn’t owe.

5) Justifying religious discrimination

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

Health care workers refusing care on religious grounds like a nurse who doesn’t want to provide post-operative care to a woman who had an abortion, a pediatrician who declines to see a child because his or her parents are lesbians, or a fertility doctor who doesn’t want to provide services to a lesbian couple are now protected. According to Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan “For too long too many of these healthcare practitioners have been bullied and discriminated against because of their religious beliefs and moral conviction.

Public Religion Research Institute 2017 survey (PRRI)

6) Employers allowed to steal from employees

The Trump administration is moving to give restaurants and other employers more control over workers’ tips. Under the new proposal, employers could use workers’ tips for essentially any purpose they want to including keeping the tips for themselves, as long as the workers who earned the tips were directly paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The Labor Department estimated that the rule would affect about one million waiters and waitresses and over 200,000 bartenders. Workers in other industries, like hairstylists and manicurists, would also be affected. A study by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that the change would cost current tipped workers $5.8 billion a year in pay.

7) FCC cuts off elderly and hurricane victims

A new rule championed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai would limit internet and phone access for millions of low-income and elderly Americans. Pai’s proposed changes to the Lifeline program, which currently serves 12 million Americans by providing subsidized phone and internet service, would cut service to about 70 percent, or 8 million, of them. Many of these recipients live in Puerto Rico and rely on Lifeline for assistance as they recover from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

8) A new law that hurts consumers but protects banks

President Trump signed into law legislation that overturned a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau consumer-friendly rule. It limited companies’ ability to impose arbitration agreements on customers in financial contracts, making it easier for aggrieved parties to join together in class-action lawsuits giving consumers an important protection against mistreatment by banks. In other words, the law makes it very hard for consumers to sue banks and credit card companies for abuse.

9) Justice Dept. wants to make it easier for states to remove voters

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reversed itself in a voting case in Ohio, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. Justin Levitt, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, called the latest amicus brief “notable in and of itself.” “It’s quite rare for the DOJ to change course after a filing a brief in the court of appeals”.

DOJ’s reversal means it now supports the state’s purging of voters’ names through the so-called “Supplemental Process.” In that process, if a voter does not vote during a single two-year period — aka one election cycle — then the voter gets a change-of-address confirmation. If the voter does not respond to the registration request by signing onto a four-year period, the voter is removed from the list of registered voters in Ohio’s voter rolls. This case now is before the Supreme Court, its final ruling will have a major impact on all American voters.

(Houston Chronicle)

10) The attempt to revive net neutrality and make it the law of the land

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content. This was enforced through government mandate until December 14, 2017, when the FCC voted to make the open internet — and the “network neutrality” principles that sustain it — a thing of the past.

Now Senate Democrats will force a vote tomorrow to repeal changes to net neutrality rules that were recently adopted by the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission. Democrats argue the new rules give too much power to Internet service providers, whom they fear will throttle down Internet speeds for some websites and services while ramping it up for others who pay more for faster speeds. The measure, which is backed by all 49 Democrats and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is expected to pass in the Senate but its future in the GOP-led House is doubtful.

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All 10 of these issues directly impact the everyday life of all Americans, but yet we barely if at all hear or see anything about them. Obviously, Russian interference and all that comes with it in an American election is important, but not life stopping and not deserving of 90% of the news media’s focus. Especially since we have a Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, backed up by an army of lawyers and FBI investigators with great authority and an unlimited budget, who 24/7 do nothing else but investigate all things Russian interference and collusion.

So hey news media be who you claim to be, stop going for the low hanging non-essential fruit. Don’t be influenced just by the rating points and page views. Be guided by the constitutional right given to you by our founding fathers, that 1st amendment unabridged right to fully and adequately inform the American public, a right that many of your colleagues in foreign countries do not have and have lost their lives trying to exercise.🔷

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(This piece was originally published on Isaac Newton Farris Jr.’s blog.)

(Cover: Flickr/The White House/Shealah Craighead - President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - 8 May 2018.)