A Beginner’s Guide to Current Political Controversies in America

Fake News

If you have paid literally any attention to the news lately, you have probably heard the term “fake news.” Fake news is a term coined by President Donald Trump to describe media outlets that either do not deliver the whole truth or go a step farther and do not tell any of the truth. Media outlets like CNN and Buzzfeed have been called out by President Trump for not delivering the truth, as news is meant to. President Trump, for the most part is not wrong. Media outlets on both sides – Republican and Democrat – have neglected their duty to report the unbiased truth and instead favored slandering specific politicians or political Parties. Now, President Trump is partly to blame, too. President Trump’s accusations of media outlets reporting lies is not always the truth – sometimes media outlets that report something President Trump either does not agree with or is offended by are targeted. This is, of course, to say that some media outlets really are guilty of not reporting the truth, or at least the whole truth. Either way, these issues have created an atmosphere in America where journalists and the news they deliver are not trusted. 

Ties to Russia and Michael Flynn

President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia have been talked about since he first announced that he was running back in June of 2015. There is not a whole lot of evidence to support the claim, but that has not stopped the public from demanding the President debunk these rumors – something that will no doubt prove difficult considering his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was just caught red-handed dealing with the Russians. Flynn, now resigned due to the controversy, admitted that he held multiple calls with the Russian ambassador and then gave Vice President Mike Pence “incomplete information” about said discussions, according to DW News. To put it in simplest terms, Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia that had been issued by former President Obama with Russian officials. Flynn acknowledged that he “might” have discussed the sanctions with Russia, but, according to DW, could not say with 100 percent certainty that he had. Which is the equivalent of saying “I might have betrayed the country, but I am not totally sure.” Either way, Flynn is resigned, and questions are still lingering over who else has Russian ties in the White House.

http://www.dw.com/en/us-national-security-adviser-michael-flynn-resigns-over-russian-ties/a-37539904 

Information Leaks

Where to begin with the information leaks. Information leaks, particularly those from Wiki Leaks have proven to be an issue for a long time, and have become even more prominent in this election, namely by the leaks implicating Democrat Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton in multiple illegal or controversial scandals. At that time, then-Republican Presidential Nominee applauded the leaks for giving the American people the truth – something that he said (and still says) the media was not doing. In recent events, however, it seems Trump’s tune has changed about these leaks. In a New York Times article discussing how Michael Flynn’s Russian ties were discovered, it states that the President persists that Flynn was brought down by illegal leaks to the media. Illegal leaks that, Trump says, are “trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.” Though he did not go into more detail. In a tweet shot out by the President, Trump stated that “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very Un-American!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/us/politics/trump-condemns-leaks-to-news-media-in-a-twitter-flurry.html?_r=0

 Muslim Ban

One thing that cannot be said about President Trump is that he never delivered what he promised in his campaign. Trump made it a cornerstone of his campaign that he would deny Muslim immigrants admission to the country, and he did just that. Many Americans, particularly those closer to the left side of the political spectrum, have declared that Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) as immoral and cruel. Trump’s administration has pointed out that this is not a religious ban, despite the fact that immigrants belonging to a non-majority religion (so Christianity or Catholicism) in that country are prioritized to being allowed in, so it definitely is a ban on religion. In any event, the country is split on whether Muslim immigrants should be allowed into the country to the recent terror attacks by followers of Islam across the globe. The ban is not permanent.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/28/trump-immigration-ban-syria-muslims-reaction-lawsuits 

Kellyanne Conway and the U.S. Office of Government Ethics

Did you know that federal employees are not allowed to endorse products? Evidently certain people in the White House, including the President. In two separate events, President Trump and the counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, publically endorsed products – something that is strictly prohibited by federal employees as described by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. The first case was when the then President-elect Trump encouraged his supporters to buy L.L. Bean products in a tweet, according to Fortune. Not a day later, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (or the OGE) tweeted out a friendly reminder that “All executive branch employees must refrain from misuse of position, including endorsements.” Now, this alone is not a huge deal, as many rules set in place by the OGE do not directly apply to the President, but when the same thing happened with Kellyanne Conway when she endorsed Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on a Fox News broadcast it raised some questions. After Nordstrom announced that it would stop selling Ivanka’s line of clothing, Conway took it to Fox News when she stated during an interview “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you… I hate shopping, but I am going to go get some for myself today. I am going to give it a free commercial here, go buy it today.” The rules that do not apply to the President do, however, apply to his counselor. The director of the OGE says Conway misused her position by endorsing Ivanka’s clothes line, and demands the White House discipline her for it. Sean Spicer, a White House spokesman, has said Conway has been “counseled” on the matter, but not much else has been said.

http://fortune.com/2017/01/13/after-trumps-tweet-ethics-office-reminds-u-s-employees-no-endorsing-products/

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/319493-ethics-office-calls-on-white-house-to-discipline-conway

 Sean Spicer

If you have heard of the term “alternative facts”, then you have probably heard the name Sean Spicer. White House press secretary, Sean Spicer has made headlines recently when he declared that Trump’s inauguration “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.” This simply is not true, as Obama’s inauguration in 2008 AND 2012 were both attended more than Trump’s. This is where the term alternative facts came into play. The aforementioned Kellyanne Conway, defended him by saying that this was merely an alternative fact, despite the statistics proving it wrong. And why did he do this? His boss told him to. President Trump spilled this fact in public during remarks to CIA employees, according to Vox.

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/24/14356628/sean-spicer-trump-crowds

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