Category Archives: Feature

Evaluating the Biden administration after one year

Tyler Kavalecz / Broadcast Manager

     Unlike a smooth, straight-line bullet train, the Biden administration’s first year has been like a ride at Cedar Point; filled with countless peaks and valleys, highs and lows. 

     After taking office, President Joe Biden did not waste time in trying to make change. In his first 100 days in office, he issued 106 executive actions, with 42 of those being executive orders. The number of executive actions Biden issued was more than his three predecessors, Trump, Obama and Bush combined in that time span.

     Possibly more significant, is the number of Biden’s executive orders that repealed Trumps’ past orders. Out of his 42 executive orders in his first 100 days, 20 revoked former Trump-era orders. Some of Biden’s actions included halting funding for Trump’s border wall, reversing Trump’s travel ban that targeted mainly Muslim countries, imposing a mask manndate on federal properties, ramping up vaccine supplies, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and reversing Trump’s ban on transgender Americans joining the military.

     While signing executive actions seemingly every day, Biden was also working on creating a diverse cabinet, something that Democrats heavily supported. Biden established a cabinet that was substantially more diverse than his predecessors’, with large percentages of the leaders being either minorities or women.

     Although Biden accomplished two of his early goals with his executive actions and cabinet, America had to wait over 60 days before they formally heard from the new president. Biden did not hold a formal press conference until nine weeks into his presidency, an unprecedented wait, longer than any other president in modern history. Unsurprisingly, this was met with backlash across the country, especially among Republicans and conservatives.

     One of Biden’s most significant, yet underlying accomplishments is his rapid-paced appointing of federal judges. Biden has appointed 45 article three judges who have been confirmed by the Senate through Feb. 1, the most such appointments through that point in all presidencies since 1981. For comparison, his predecessor, Trump, had 24 appointees confirmed by the Senate during the same time frame of his presidency. 

     Along with appointing a large number of federal judges, Biden will have his choice at a Supreme Court justice, with Justice Stephen Breyer recently announcing he will retire from the nation’s highest court at the end of the current term. The departure of Breyer, the oldest justice on the bench, will allow Biden to follow through on his promise of nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court. 

     Another one of the most surprising successes of the Biden administration’s first year has been job creation. Employers added a record 6.6 million jobs during Biden’s first 12 months in office, by far the most by any president’s first year since the number was tracked. 

     But, one could argue that the main reason so many jobs have been created under Biden is because of timing. Biden took office just as Covid-19 vaccines were becoming available and the economy was enjoying a natural recovery.

     On the other side of the aisle, it can be argued that many of the jobs created have been due to the massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. Some economists have argued that the package added almost four million jobs, on top of around three million jobs that would likely have been added even without the package.

     Although the unemployment rate has declined under Biden’s first year, inflation has not. During the first year of the Biden administration inflation has skyrocketed, creating issues with supply chains across the country, along with prices, especially pertaining to gas prices. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price of gas for the country has risen almost a full dollar over the past year.

     Inflation, the driving cause of these issues, skyrocketed to its highest rate in 40 years, with consumer prices increasing 7.5% over the past 12 months. This increase forced the average American household to spend an extra $276 per month. Over the past year, energy rose 27%, with fuel oil and gasoline individually rising 46.5% and 40% respectively.

     While inflation was predicted to rise over the past year, the actual number overshot the Dow Jones estimates. Much of this is due to the Biden administration’s misreading of the situation, with government spending having gone through the roof during Biden’s first year in office.

     Arguably the most glaring negative through Biden’s first year in office is the United States’ pullout from Afghanistan. In short, it is one of the biggest diplomatic and international failures in recent memory, and honestly, an embarrassment for the country.

     Another disaster for the Biden administration through their first year has been the U.S.-Mexico border. Biden repeatedly called out former President Trump for his policies and handling of the illegal immigrant situation at the border, but Biden has failed to correct the situation, with it further deteriorating under his watch.

     According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than two million unauthorized migrants were apprehended or turned in after crossing the border in 2021. Those figures only show those who have been caught, excluding the thousands that crossed the border successfully, and illegally last year.

     Biden has tried his best to reverse almost all of Trump’s policies with the border. The current president called his predecessors’ ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy “inhumane” when Trump established it. Yet, Biden’s administration has reinstated that very same policy and enforced it, due to how bad the border crisis has gotten.

     All of this is just a glimpse of the full view of the Biden administration’s first year in office. In my opinion, along with his international failures, some of Biden’s biggest failures have been his shortcomings in uniting the country, both political parties and even his own political party. 

     Overall, the administration’s first year lacked consistency, with constant fluctuation between high and low points, with the lows being more extreme than the highs. However, I am cautiously optimistic that the administration’s second year will be more consistent and successful.

Valentine’s Day Traditions

Makenzie Gash / Staff Writer

Right now, this month is the so-called “season of love.” People either love it or hate it.

Valentine’s day is Feb. 14 and is a time to celebrate the love in one’s life, whether that’s a significant other or friends. Many do not celebrate the tiny holiday, despising the sappy love or hating the need to romanticize a normal day just like any other.

Curtis Black, a coach and study hall monitor at SMFHS, has a wife of two years. They do not usually celebrate with great events, but more with smaller gestures. Black usually starts the day early, with getting to school and teaching throughout the day, then coaching basketball practice.

Black tries to make the most of the time he has making his wife feel special.  His wife’s favorite meal is at Outback Steakhouse, so on his way home he treated her to takeout and chocolate and roses.

“It’s the little things that matter the most,” Black stated.

Senior Taniya Fuller chooses to spend her day with a rather fun tradition that’s been going on for seven years. She starts with going out to dinner and then to an arcade with her boyfriend. To keep it interesting, they play competitions of bowling and basketball. The loser has to buy dinner.

“We like to have more fun and laughs, not like other couples,” Fuller explained.

Another staff member, ceramics teacher Todd Abel, has been married for longer than he can count. He and his wife are high school sweethearts, they have never been too into big celebrations.

“I believe that small acts of kindness and good service go more than dinner and flowers,” Abel said.

Abel decided to bring out one of his hidden hobbies and provide a nice homemade dinner for his wife. He made a high-quality steak, twice-baked potatoes and asparagus with lemon butter. After all of the cooking, he will clean up the house.

“I value my wife every day but valentine’s day is just another day to express it,” Abel said.

People throughout the high school chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day in many different ways, and each was unique and special to them.

Examining bias in today’s media

Tyler Kavalecz / Broadcast Manager

Vincent Lupo / Staff Writer

     Everyone reading, watching or listening to the news wants to hear the facts; however, the media distributing that news in today’s society has been blinded and in some cases, overtaken by political agendas. Our country was warned of political parties undermining the American people with their biased and potentially corrupt views over two hundred years ago by George Washington.

     “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion,” Washington said during his farewell address on September 17, 1796.

     One of the most far-right news sources that proves and upholds Washington’s theory about the possibilities in the future is Alex Jones and his talk radio show, along with his website InfoWars. Jones has gained fame through his conspiracy theories and vicious attacks on mainstream media outlets. Trusted American fact-checking website Media Bias/Fact Check described Jones and his website as a non-credible source.

     “The amount of fake news and debunked conspiracy claims, as well as extreme right-wing bias, renders InfoWars a non-credible source on any level,” according to mediabiasfactcheck.com.

     After promoting far-right and extremist theories for more than two decades, Jones was banned from most of the world’s largest social media platforms, including Facebook, Apple, Spotify and YouTube. Some of Jones’ most ridiculous and absurd claims over the years include, but are not limited to, the government having weather weapons, the September 11 attacks being an “inside job” by the U.S. government, Robert Mueller being a demon, the Sandy Hook shooting being staged and multiple ludicrous claims about Hillary Clinton.     

     Recently, a Connecticut court found Jones, along with others, liable for defamation over Jones’ claims that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. Just by reading Jones’ claims by themselves, even without the lost lawsuits and social media bans,  you can already rule out any legitimacy Jones may claim to have, even though he still has a major viewership base, which is one of major conundrums in today’s media world.

     Another popular right-wing news outlet, although not as extreme as Jones and InfoWars, is The Daily Wire. Founded by political commentator Ben Shapiro and director Jeremy Boreing in 2015, The Daily Wire is an American conservative news website and media company that is a leading publisher on Facebook. The Daily Wire has described itself as a politically and socially conservative news website. 

     Along with written content, The Daily Wire produces many popular conservative podcasts including The Ben Shapiro Show, The Michael Knowles Show, The Matt Walsh Show, The Andrew Klavan Show and Candace, which is hosted by controversial conservative Candace Owens. Through the years, The Daily Wire has repeatedly failed fact checks and has been found to take stories out of context and state facts through partisan viewpoints.

     Shapiro, specifically, has been one of the most popular and controversial conservative political commentators over the past few years. Before assuming his current role as editor emeritus for The Daily Wire, Shapiro served as editor-at-large for Breitbart News from 2012 to 2016.

     Although Shapiro has been viewed by some as being far-right on the political scale, he has stated against and denounced the alt-right movement, which is a loosely connected and far-right white nationalist movement. In fact, after leaving Breitbart News in 2016, Shapiro has been a frequent target of antisemtic rhetoric from the alt-right.

     Shapiro, and The Daily Wire as a whole, are obviously partisan to the right, but I would not categorize them as “extremists.” With that being said, they are definitely not the most reliable or trustworthy news source, along with being highly partisan.

     Fox News is another highly popular right-wing news source. Fox News has been rated highly right-wing by multiple trustworthy fact check and media bias sources.

     “We rate Fox News strongly Right-Biased due to editorial positions and story selection that favors the right,” according to mediabiasfactcheck.com

     One of the most prominent hosts on Fox News is conservative Tucker Carlson. He recently caused controversy among democrats with his documentary series about the Capitol Riot, which pushed many far-right theories. 

     Carlson, along with other members of Fox News, like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, have also pushed false theories about Covid-19 and the 2020 election. Fox News promoted baseless allegations that voting machine company Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems had conspired to rig the election for Joe Biden. Both companies ended up suing Fox News over these baseless claims. 

     Even though Fox News consistently ranks very high in ratings for news outlets, that does not mean they are not biased and trustworthy. Fox News promotes right-wing theories on a daily basis, while also promoting baseless claims almost regularly.

     On the complete opposite side of the political spectrum is where we find BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed News, which is a rather left-leaning media outlet, was the headliner for political controversy regarding Donald Trumps’ connection to Russian officials leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. In January 2016, nine days before Trump took the oath of office, BuzzFeed News leaked and released the Steele dossier, which was an unfinished 35-page political opposition research report written by counterintelligence specialist Christopher Steele from June to December 2016. The dossier contained allegations of misconduct, conspiracy and cooperation between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the government of Russia prior to and during the 2016 election campaign.

     This may seem fine and appear like BuzzFeed was just reporting and releasing news; however, they released the dossier without its author’s permission. Furthermore, Steele, a former head of the Russia Desk for British intelligence, was writing the report for the private investigative firm Fusion GPS, who were paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

      By the time that both then President Barack Obama and Trump were briefed on the dossier, American newsrooms across the country had already spent months trying to track down the claims in the document, but had little to show in the end. CNN, another left-wing news outlet, aired a story over the topic, but did not publish the dossier.

     CNN’s Jake Tapper blasted BuzzFeed for releasing the dossier without permission or fact-checking; furthermore, displaying how far left BuzzFeed really is.

     “It’s irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the internet. I can understand why president-elect Trump would be upset about that, I would be upset about it too. It’s why we did not publish it, and why we did not detail any specifics from it because it was uncorroborated, and it’s not what we do,” Tapper said.

     Although CNN displayed a rather courteous act of denouncing the release of the dossier, they are still skewed rather decently to the left on the political spectrum. 

     “Overall, we rate CNN left biased based on editorial positions that consistently favor the left, while straight news reporting falls left-center through bias by omission,” according to mediabiasfactcheck.com.

     Over the past half-decade, CNN has been blasted repeatedly for their coverage of Trump, along with non-coverage over democratic centered stories. More recently, CNN has been called out for their  coverage over the unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer and fall of 2020.

     On Aug. 26, 2020, CNN aired a video caption over a news report showing flames engulfing a building during the unrest in Kenosha that read “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests After Police Shooting.” This event demonstrated the bias that is the underlying groundwork for many CNN news reports.

     Chris Cuomo is the most recent example of democratic bias at CNN. Until recently, Cuomo was one of the top anchors for the network, with his show Cuomo Prime Time; however, he was fired by the media outlet in early December last year.

     While working as one of CNN’s top anchors, Cuomo was also effectively working as an unpaid aide to the now former governor of New York, who is also his brother, Andrew Cuomo. CNN initially downplayed Cuomo’s involvement with his brothers’ fight against sexual harrassment and misconduct allegations, until they suspended him indefinitely before terminating his contract days later. 

     “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light,” CNN said in a statement.

     Another example of democratic and left-wing bias at a major news network recently was the covering of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial by CNN and MSNBC. Both media outlets fueled outrage in the public against Rittenhouse by promoting false claims, both before and during the trial.

     “It makes me angry that they can’t take the time to at least get the generic, basic facts correct because it didn’t fit in the story they wanted to tell,” Rittenhouse murder trial and defense lawyer Mark Richards said.

     Some of the most prominent and consistent lies promoted against Rittenhouse were that he crossed lines with an AR-15, was going to the riot looking for trouble and the claim that he was a white supremacist. Along with all of those claims having been disproven, CNN and MSNBC continued to promote these lies, while also calling him a vigilante, among other misleading names.

     While they were promoting false claims throughout the trial, CNN and MSNBC proved that they have the ability to control the narrative in the media when they want to, which can be a scary sight and thought. Nowadays, the facts do not generate the most clicks or highest ratings. Instead, these news outlets promoted twisted facts and outright lies for months on end to create drama and controversy, which in turn, creates the most attention and viewers for modern day media outlets.

     Although there are plenty of right and left-leaning news sources in today’s media, there are also many popular figures and outlets that are more centered in terms of their political views. One of the most prominent independent media outlets is C-Span.

     C-Span, which stands for cable-satellite public affairs network, is an American cable and satellite television network that televises many of the United States federal governments’ proceedings. They are one of the most trustworthy members of modern-day media in terms of politics because they don’t push their own political opinions, unlike many other news outlets. 

     Another trustworthy and politically centered member of the media is The Hill. The Hill is an American newspaper and digital media company that in 2020, was the largest independent political news site in the United States. Like C-Span, but unlike many members of the media today, The Hill states politics and news as it is, instead of embellishing events with false information intended to push political agendas.

     One of the most popular politically centered media members in today’s society is most likely a surprise to many: Joe Rogan. Rogan is a UFC commentator and comedian that hosts the podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, which is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. 

     Rogan is not without controversy though. Recently, he has been blasted by doctors and media outlets for guests and Rogan himself pushing possibly false information about Covid-19 and vaccines on his podcast. Before this, Rogan was criticized by CNN and other left-wing news outlets for his stance on the Covid-19 vaccine.

     Although he is highly controversial, Rogan, with his podcast, is still one of the most prominent politically centered members of the media. Although he hosts many right-wing figures on his podcast like Alex Jones and Ben Shapiro, among others, he politically sides more to the left, which balances the podcasts out. 

     CNN has described Rogan as libertarian-leaning, while Rogan himself has said that he holds a wide variety of political views and does not easily fall on any particular side of the political spectrum. Rogan supported Bernie Sanders for president in 2016 and 2020, although he ended up voting for an independent candidate in each of those presidential elections. Although Rogan is a more centered figure in the media than other outlets, he is not the most trustworthy, unlike C-Span and The Hill. 

     Even though there are many centered and trustworthy news sources nowadays, the media outlets that skew to either side politically and promote false information on a daily basis heavily outnumber the good news sources. When discussing bias within current day media, it is nearly inevitable that your viewpoint may in fact be criticized, or in some cases, censored. Nevertheless, there is a fine line between the sharing of radical ideologies and simple censorship. 

     When analyzed further, a majority of Americans believe that conservative views are being suppressed by tech giants that control most of the current day media.

     “Today, 69% of Republicans and Republican leaners say major technology companies generally support the views of liberals over conservatives, compared with 25% of Democrats and Democratic leaners,” according to pewresearch.org.

     Modern day media is arguably more turbulent and political than ever before, with false information being promoted and pushed by sources from both sides of the political aisle. Whenever you are reading, watching or listening to news in the future, make sure to take it with a grain of salt, because there is most likely an underlying bias behind what may seem like regular statements.