To: Davan Maharaj, Editor, Marc Duvoisin, Managing Editor, Jim Newton, Editor at Large, Mark Porubcansky, Foreign Editor, and Kim Murphy, National Editor
L.A. Times: Cover the TPP
Tell the L.A. Times that you demand they cover the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Obama's attempts at fast tracking this very damaging agreement without transparency.
Why is this important?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a global trade agreement being secretly negotiated between the US and 12 Pacific Rim countries. Primarily written by former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, 600 multinational corporations and industry trade groups, the TPP will affect nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives. If passed, it will undermine state, local and federal laws, including those governing food safety, environmental protection, internet freedom, worker rights, democratic sovereignty, healthcare and drug prices, and banking and finance regulation.
If passed, the TPP will be a disaster for public health and safety, future sustainability of the world’s food supply and basic democratic principles.
Although 600 corporate executives have the text of the agreement on their office computers, only one US Congressman Alan Grayson has seen the text. When asked why it was being negotiated in secret, Ron Kirk, the former US trade negotiator said, "Because if the people knew what was in it, it would never be passed."
Billed as a "free trade" agreement, only five of the 29 chapters actually relate to trade. It is really a rigged trade agreement, a corporate power grab so massive that if implemented, it would represent a global corporate coup d'etat making corporations more powerful than governments. After viewing some of the text, Congressman Grayson said, "This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests."
It’s bad enough that Congress and the public have been shut out of these negotiations, while corporations are running the show. But even worse, the Obama Administration wants to ram the TPP through Congress using a Nixon-era process called Fast Track.
On November 13, three-quarters of House Democrats sent a letter informing the President that they would oppose Fast Track procedures he has requested that would allow the TPP to circumvent ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures. “We will oppose Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative stages of trade agreements,” they wrote.
On November 25, the day of President Obama's two high dollar fundraisers, a TPP protest rally was held in a Beverly Hills park with six speakers from labor, environmental, health and food safety organizations. Then 250 people marched to the site of the fundraiser. None of the commuters stuck in rush hour traffic who spoke to protesters had heard of the TPP. When it was explained to them, they were eager to take a flyer.
While the Los Angeles Times sent a photographer and a single photo was published, not one of the seven reporters who were sent the press release chose to cover this event, including the two who were embedded with Obama. Further, there has been scant news reporting or editorial comment about the Trans-Pacific Partnership in LA's paper of record. Of the four pieces published in all the four years this agreement has been negotiated, there has not been one article that examines this trade deal in detail.
Of the four pieces published, one was an Op Ed puff piece by Secretary of State John Kerry, who is bound to push the Obama Adminstration's agenda. The second piece was a letter to the editor in response from representatives from the Sierra Club and the Communications Workers of America. Another article was coverage of Commerce Secretary's recent trip to Mexico where she responded to questions about the TPP, statements which were left unchallenged by the reporter. Again the Secretary is bound to represent the White House view. And finally there was one lone letter to the editor opposing Fast Track. For an agreement that affects 40% of the world's economy and so many spheres of our lives, this lack of reportage is an egregious violation of the public trust.
By its paucity of coverage, the LA Times is blatantly and knowingly neglecting its obligation to provide accurate, well researched and balanced news and opinion about vital government practices. This disregard for the responsibilities of journalism translates to corporate control of what the public may know, or more simply, censorship.
The LA Times should abide by the implied social contract with its readers which dictates thorough and up to date journalism about significant local and world events. Times must recognize the importance of the TPP story and begin regular news coverage. The Times is also obligated to allow its readers to be heard by publishing editorial comment on the TPP.
Background info on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: