TRUMP’S ‘ALTERNATIVE FACTS’ HURT WOMEN EVERYWHERE
From Vietnam through Watergate and Exxon Valdez, and in my first newsroom jobs after college, reporters were roundly regarded as truth-tellers, and the power of journalism was considered incontrovertible.
Today huge swaths of the country distrust the media. From the bully pulpit, the president brushes aside stories he disagrees with as “fake news,” and recently called the media “enemy number one.” Truth has become subjective, and a top White House spokeswoman, in coining the term “alternative facts,” is telling the country that it’s all right to repackage reality to serve a political narrative.
Yet just as we did when Walter Cronkite covered Vietnam, drawing on dispatches from embedded reporters, we need great journalism to explain the world to us and to hold our government accountable to its citizens.
The need for independent, investigative news is especially clear when it comes to the issues that matter most to women. “Women’s issues” have been championed for decades by both political parties, but more often than not used as a wedge to divide citizens, not unite them. The fact is, there’s much more consensus on issues affecting women—and the need for continued action—than politicians would have you believe. When it comes to women’s rights, more than 80 percent of women and men say it’s important for the Trump administration and Congress to advance gender equality, according to a poll recently released by nonpartisan firm PerryUndem.
Family planning is often described as controversial, however, that same poll revealed that 85 percent of voters want to ensure women have access to quality, affordable birth control; 67 percent oppose nominating a Supreme Court justice based on their belief in restricting or eliminating women’s right to an abortion; and 71 percent oppose taking away funds from Planned Parenthood that are used for birth control, well-woman care and cancer screenings for low-income women.
Surprised? We have grown so accustomed to the narrative that we are a divided nation, we don’t realize that actually, when it comes to women’s rights, we’re almost entirely united in supporting them.
Even among those who voted for Trump, the majority do not fully support the agenda he aggressively advances on these issues. Actually, the gulf between what women in America want—and the mandate the new administration takes on their behalf—is glaringly wide.
We know that women hold a lot less power in the U.S.: they make up less than 13 percent of police officers nationwide; they publish fewer than 20 percent of newspaper op-eds; they hold just about one in five political seats around the country, and they are much more likely to be poor, and raising children alone.
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[Photo Credit: Reuters]