Controversy Surrounding the State of the Union

The government has reopened for the next three weeks following the longest federal shutdown in history. While Congress works on a deal to keep the government open until the fiscal year’s end, President Trump is crafting his State of the Union Address, which is now scheduled for February 5.

Articles about the State of the Union populated news feeds as the address itself became another contentious issue between President Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. CNN described the tension surrounding the State of the Union as being one of the factors causing “a dramatic back and forth between Pelosi and the President.”

The back and forth in question was compiled by the Washington Post in an article that included the letters that were passed between the Speaker and the President.

Pelosi postponed Trump’s address on January 16, citing security concerns. She suggested that Trump give his address by letter, like it was given before President Wilson decided to give it as an address before congress.

Rather than focusing on the political motives at play here, Vox wrote about the history of the State of the Union and different forms it has taken over the years. Other publications, like The Hill and Bloomberg, took this as an opportunity to suggest that the State of the Union shouldn’t be televised at all. The Hill even argued that all the State of the Union is is “an annual ‘made for television’ moment, scripted and robotically choreographed, with all the spontaneity of a network show laugh track.”

Still others, like the Boston Globe, chose to focus on Trump’s claims that he would be looking for a different venue for the State of the Union.

Trump expressed his frustration with the postponement early last week, but has since seemed to concede, saying he would be giving the address in the House Chambers once the government opened back up.

Factual focus wasn’t the only thing that differed between news outlets; publications seemed to take different stances on analysis as well. Publications like Vox and Fox News both pointed out that this year’s State of the Union symbolizes more than just an address.

According to Vox, “the shutdown over the wall is political gamesmanship, and so is this showdown over the State of the Union. Trump doesn’t seem to know how to win either fight.” According to Fox News, Pelosi’s choice to postpone the State of the Union signals that “she doesn’t want the American people to hear what President Trump has to say.” Though the outlets fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, they both assert that the State of the Union showdown is about more than just an address.

Now that the government is back open, NPR predicts that Trump’s State of the Union address will most likely “focus heavily on immigration and his continued push for a wall along the Mexican border — which was the sticking point in spending negotiations that led to the partial shutdown in the first place.”

Although the postponement of the State of the Union was a just small part of the shutdown, it has been heavily featured in recent political coverage. It marks the beginning of two years of divided government between Trump and Pelosi and news outlets have already begun developing a wide range of perspectives on the conflict between the two.

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