Democrats introduce ‘COVFEFE Act’

SPYBITS - The Philippine Star

The kerfuffle created by US President Donald Trump’s confusing “covfefe” tweet has inspired a Democratic representative from Illinois to introduce a bill that would expand the US Presidential Records Act of 1978 to include social media as part of documentation material.

Last May 31, Trump’s “Despite the negative press covfefe” tweet bewildered Americans, prompting speculations from both pro- and anti-Trump camps about the meaning of the tweet. Trump eventually deleted his confusing post, saying, “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’? Enjoy!”

Under the proposed “COVFEFE” Act – or the “Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement” Act – Trump’s social media posts will become part of official presidential records. According to bill author Mike Quigley, elected officials must maintain public trust in government, which means they should be held responsible and accountable for what they do and say – including 140-character Twitter posts.  

The fact is, the creativity of Democrats seems to be taking new heights as far as authoring legislation is concerned, naming proposed bills with interesting acronyms for easy recall. For instance, the MAR-A-LAGO or “Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness” Act that references Trump’s famed Florida estate. And then there’s the “Relatives in Government Getting Employment Dishonorably” or the RIGGED Act, which is a thinly veiled swipe at the appointment of Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner as senior presidential advisers. 

Trump’s practice of utilizing social media to make announcements or hint at policy initiatives has actually raised questions on whether they should be documented or preserved in national archives. Twitter is the most direct way for Trump to reach supporters and communicate his thoughts to the American people, with many also pointing out that it is an effective tool to counter the negative publicity he has been getting from a “very biased” press.

Trump himself complained about it when he said “No politician in history – and I say this with great surety – has been treated worse or more unfairly” by the media.

A study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center On Media, Politics and Public Policy by Professor Thomas Patterson on the news coverage of the first 100 days of Trump as president revealed that “The Donald” is spot on in his assessment.

“Virtually every president since Nixon has obsessed over what they’ve seen as unfair treatment by the press,” the study said. In fact, Bill Clinton exploded in an interview that he was “damn sick and tired” of the treatment he was getting from the “knee-jerk liberal press” that has not given him “one damn bit of credit.”

But while other presidents retaliated by threatening to take away the license of broadcasters (in the case of Nixon) or creating what was tantamount to a White House news wire service that disseminated stories and material directly to local media to bypass the national press (like what Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did), Trump seems to relish taking the media head-on.   

The study focused on the reportage of major news outfits, namely CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and European news outlets BBC, Germany’s ARD and the Financial Times

“Six of the seven US outlets in our study – CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post – are among those he’s attacked by name. All six portrayed Trump’s first 100 days in highly unfavorable terms,” the study noted, with both CNN and NBC registering the highest percentage of negative news coverage at 93 percent, followed by CBS (91 percent), The New York Times (87 percent), The Washington Post (83 percent), and The Wall Street Journal (70 percent.)

Only Fox showed “a ray of sunshine” with an almost balanced tone of coverage at 52 percent negative and 48 percent positive. Of the European news media, ARD came out with 98 percent negative coverage, followed by the Financial Times with 84 percent and the BBC at 74 percent.

The study also compared the media’s coverage of the first 100 days of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton with that of Trump – and not surprisingly, the latter obtained the highest percentage as far as negative tone of coverage is concerned at 80 percent, with Clinton coming in second at 60 percent, followed by Bush at 57 percent and Obama, 41 percent.  

“The sheer level of negative coverage gives weight to Trump’s contention, one shared by his core constituency, that the media are hell bent on destroying his presidency,” the study said. And while it’s understandable for journalists to report and respond to attacks by Trump, it could “weaken the public’s confidence in the press.” Moreover, “media need to give Trump credit when his actions warrant it,” and perceptions of bias will only weaken the role of the press as watchdog – underscored by the fact that the negative tone hasn’t really changed the minds of many about the US president for better or worse.

Most significant, however, is the study’s conclusion – which is worth pondering on: “The nation’s watchdog has lost much of its bite and won’t regain it until the public perceives it as an impartial broker, applying the same reporting standards to both parties.”

FCB Manila turns 20

The Manila office of FCB – one of the biggest advertising agencies in the world – celebrated 20 years of presence in the Philippines with no less than US Ambassador Sung Kim as guest of honor.

Over the years, FCB Manila has developed an impressive roster of clients that include Meralco, PLDT, Smart, SM, Andy Player, Dole and Nivea, Oreo, SC Johnson, Chrysler, Cobra, Double Dragon, The Dalmore, Propan, Sunkist, Dutch Mill Delight, Shangri-La Boracay, and so many others.

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