One domestic issue and the President’s role in the NATO Summit that took place in on the German/French border dominated the eleventh week of The Grand Rapids Press coverage of the Obama administration.
Three stories were related to the announcement by the Obama administration that GM CEO Rich Wagner would step down, while four stories focused on the NATO Summit in Europe that the President attended. The only other story that received any attention related to the new administration was a short article written by a Grand Rapids Press reporter on an upcoming debate between two national magazine editors on the first one hundred days of the Obama administration.
GM CEO Steps Down
The week’s coverage began with a story from the Washington Post headlined, “Obama pushes, GM chief jumps.” The article states that the “administration effectively rejected as untenable the business plans that GM and Chrysler had submitted to restructure their companies, saying that neither had fulfilled the terms of the federal loans the companies received in December.”
The only sources cited in this story are an unnamed “senior White House official” and a representative from Edmunds, which the articles states, is “a consumer-focused automotive Web site.” In reality, the Web site appears more like a marketing site for auto dealers.
On Tuesday, March 31st The Press ran an Associated Press article on how autoworkers responded to the administration’s decision to not provide any financial assistance to the auto industry. One UAW local president stated, “when it comes to auto manufacturing and middle-class jobs and people that don’t matter on Wall Street, there are certainly different standards that we have to meet — higher standards — than the financials. That is a double standard that exists and it’s unfair.”
Another UAW spokesperson mention the double standard of the government imposing strict conditions on the auto industry in order to receive financial assistance, but the same conditions do not apply to Wall Street. One additional article appeared on the 31st that dealt with a reaction to the administration’s announcement about GM. The Grand Rapids Press published a reaction from current Congressional Representative Pete Hoekstra. However, the article has more to do with Hoekstra’s candidacy for the Michigan Governor’s seat in the 2010 election. Hoekstra states that President Obama should not be able to intervene in the matters of private industry.
NATO, Afghanistan, and US Power
There were four articles during the week of March 30 – April 5 that dealt with the foreign policy pronouncements of the Obama administration during the annual NATO Summit. The first story appeared on March 31st from the Washington Post and framed Obama’s NATO Summit role in terms of his campaign promise to “regain the international community’s confidence in the US.” The Washington Post reporter accepts the administration’s position that the US is ” the world leader.” By not questioning this premise, the reporter never challenges the role that the US plays in foreign affairs. Only President Obama is cited in the article, so readers never hear other opinions on the new administration’s broad foreign policy agenda.
An additional article on March 31st announcemes a conference between 73 nations on the current crisis in Afghanistan. The Press ran a shortened version of an AP story that only included a brief comment from US Secretary of State Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This article is also framed in such a way that doesn’t challenge the US role in the current Afghan crisis by stating that nations were gathering “to reinvigorate international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan’s lawless western border region.” Unfortunately, there is no analysis of how the Afghan/Pakistan border has become so “lawless,” as the article states, particularly since Obama took office.
The coverage of NATO Summit ended on April 5 with an AP story headlined, “NATO support has limits.” The article states that many other nations will only commit to providing security forces in Afghanistan for the upcoming elections, but are hesitant to support the US escalation. The story only provides comments from President Obama and other NATO leaders, but omits Afghani or Pakistani perspectives on the current crisis. There is mention of anti-war protestors at the NATO Summit, but the article provides no details of the protest or any articulation of why thousands of people gathered in opposition to the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan.