On Saturday July 16, the Grand Rapids Press ran a story about President Bushs promoting the Central American Free Trade agreement. This was one of the few articles we have seen in the Grand Rapids Press concerning CAFTA, and it was framed exclusively from the presidents perspective. The article is not very long and President Bush is the only voice quoted in it. These quotes from the president are from a speech he gave in North Carolina in which he promoted CAFTA as part of the War on Terror. In the article Bush says “It (CAFTA) will advance a key part of our foreign policy” and that “It is in our interest that those democracies (Central American) be strong and viable. There are still forces that oppose democratic government there.” The article also goes on to state that Bush believes that CAFTA would help bring jobs to the US. Again, to Quote Bush; “ts a pro-jobs bill. Its a pro-growth bill, its a pro-democracy bill.” The reporter does not follow those comments with any countering voices, nor does he provide any contextual information with which the reader could use to judge the accuracy of Bushs claims about CAFTA.
One piece of contextual information the reporter could have mentioned is NAFTA, which is the model upon which CAFTA is designed. NAFTA has been in place for over a decade and some data about the results it has had in terms of jobs and economic growth would be very relevant. Also, the reporter does nothing to challenge the idea that CAFTA is somehow related to the “war on terror” or that CAFTA will lead to an increase in democracy. The article does not tell the reader who even is opposed to CAFTA, only that it is “endangered” and that House leaders hope to vote on it before August. No Republican or democratic house members opposed to CAFTA are presented in this article, nor are Labor voices, human rights organizations, environmental organizations, or any voices actually from Central America. We at GRIID have noted that by and large, the voices that get published in the local media tend to be official voices, particularly on issues of international news. So it is hardly surprising, although rather unfortunate for the reader, that this article on CAFTA contained only one perspective, that of the President.
DALLAS, N.C. -
President Bush portrayed an endangered free-trade treaty as another front in the global war on terror Friday, suggesting his Central America Free Trade Agreement was not only good for commerce but for shoring up fragile democracies in the region.
“It’s in our interest that those democracies be strong and viable. There are still forces that oppose democratic government there,” he said. “There are forces that are hostile to our interests. It will help advance a key part of our foreign policy.”
Bush made his pitch in a state where GOP support for the pact is weak, and with a visit to a textile plant, where critics suggest jobs could be jeopardized by the measure.
Bush suggested the legislation, which passed the Senate earlier this month but faces a tough time in the House, would help bring more jobs to the United States, not send them fleeing.
“It’s a pro-jobs bill. It’s a pro-growth bill. It’s a pro-democracy bill,” Bush said.
Bush toured the R.L. Stowe Mills plant in nearby Belmont, N.C., and stood among giant spools of white cotton thread and 480-pound bales of raw cotton. Then he appealed for the treaty’s support in a speech to an invitation-only audience at the Gaston Community College here.
“Get that bill to my desk,” Bush said in remarks aimed at Congress.
The trade agreement, signed by the United States a year ago, would end or sharply lower trade barriers with the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It would also apply to the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation.
House leaders have said they hope to bring up the measure before Congress breaks for its August recess.
Text from the original article ommitted from the Grand Rapids Press version:
But it faces near-solid Democratic opposition and only lukewarm GOP support.
Bush’s visit was to the district of Rep. Sue Myrick (news, bio, voting record), R-N.C., alone among North Carolina’s 13-member House delegation to publicly endorse the measure. She accompanied him on Air Force One.
Ahead of his visit, Bush met at the White House with President Antonio Saca of El Salvador, one of the countries that is a party to the trade agreement. The two leaders sat alongside each other in the Oval Office during a brief picture-taking session.
North Carolina is one of the hotbeds of opposition to the pact, which is modeled on the North American Free Trade Agreement passed 12 years ago that established free trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Critics contend CAFTA will cost U.S. jobs by making it easier for U.S. companies to relocate operations in Central America, where labor costs are lower. The White House argues the opposite, asserting it will bring jobs to the United States.
Also, Bush suggested stimulating the economies of Central America could also help reduce illegal immigration. Workers could “find a job close at home, rather than sneak into the United States to find a job,” he said.
The textile industry itself is divided on the pact.
The trip gave the president an opportunity to briefly escape the fierce political debate in Washington surrounding his chief political adviser and deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove. The adviser is at the center of a federal investigation into a 2003 news leak that exposed the identity of a CIA officer.
But there were reminders of the flap even here. Someone in a small group of protesters held a sign that said, “Fire Bush’s Brain,” as Bush’s motorcade went by. It was a reference to an irreverent Rove nickname.
Rove was along on the trip.
In a playful moment, Rove reached into a reporter’s backpack and pulled out a half-filled container of Tylenol PM. He handed it back to the reporter, and joked, “You look like you need this.”