Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed a bill authorizing $716 billion in defense spending, which includes a pay raise for US troops. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Not Saying the Words "John McCain" Is Least Vile Thing About Trump's Signing of $717 Billion Military Spending Bill

"Can't think of anything that better sums up the moral bankruptcy and cliquishness of D.C. media than the uniform meltdown over a $717B defense bill not being properly credited to McCain as if that's the goddamn problem."

Jake Johnson

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) President Donald Trump signed into law during a jingoistic ceremony at Fort Drum on Monday authorizes $22 billion in spending for nuclear weapons that could wipe out the human species, 77 new F-35 fighter jets, and $717 billion in military funding overall, but the corporate media apparently decided that the worst part about Trump signing this "obscenity" of a bill was his failure to acknowledge that it is named after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

"The myth of U.S. as noble but flawed defender of Human Rights and Freedom is our civic religion—the one thing all Serious pundits, pols, think-tankers, and high status media creators must accept. McCain is this myths greatest avatar, this is why they rush to his defense."
—Adam Johnson

"Trump snubs John McCain during bill signing intended to honor him," NBC News complained in a headline that was repeated almost verbatim in Business Insider, the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The New RepublicBloomberg, and many other major news outlets after Trump signed the (emphasis added) John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

"Can't think of anything that better sums up the moral bankruptcy and cliquishness of D.C. media than the uniform meltdown over a $717B defense bill—one that codifies funding for Saudis massacre of Yemeni children—not being properly credited to McCain as if that's the goddamn problem," media critic and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) contributor Adam Johnson wrote on Twitter, highlighting just one of the countless grotesque components of the NDAA.

As Common Dreams reported, the $717 billion military spending bill was supported by 40 Democrats in the Senate and 139 Democrats in the House.

"The myth of U.S. as noble but flawed defender of Human Rights and Freedom is our civic religion—the one thing all Serious pundits, pols, think-tankers, and high status media creators must accept," Johnson added. "McCain is this myths greatest avatar, this is why they rush to his defense so vehemently."

Others similarly ridiculed the corporate media's obsession with the bill's official title over the devastating effects it will have on actual lives overseas—a topic that elicited little concern from those penning offended tweets and headlines on behalf of McCain, a fervent supporter of endless war.

Predictably, Congress's bipartisan support for and Trump's subsequent signature of one of the largest military spending bills in American history was not met with the usual consternation and hand-wringing from pundits about how the U.S. can afford such funding.

"Nobody ever calls massive increases in military spending 'unrealistic.' Not even when Donald Trump wants them."
—Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

But, as The Intercept's Alex Emmons has noted, the $82 billion military spending increase authorized by the 2019 NDAA could easily pay for Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) free public college plan, which is estimated to cost $47 billion a year.

In a column last month, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi posed the simple question corporate media outlets never deign to ask when it comes to spending on the Pentagon, new nuclear weapons, and shiny fighter jets: "Can You Think of Any Other Ways to Spend $716 Billion?"

"The ease with which this massive spending increase passed exposes all the howling we always get from think-tanks and the press whenever any ambitious social program is proposed. It’s all bunk—all of it," Taibbi concluded. " Ask experts how much it would cost to make higher education at public colleges and universities free, and you’ll get some big numbers. You will also hear strident opposition in op-ed pages to how 'unrealistic' the idea is, even though most free-ed proposals would fit easily into an $80 billion-per-year outlay. Nobody ever calls massive increases in military spending 'unrealistic.' Not even when Donald Trump wants them."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

State AGs Allege Google Deceived Users to Profit From Location Data

"Google has a powerful financial incentive to obscure the details of its location data collection practices and to make it difficult for consumers to opt out of being tracked," said one AG.

Kenny Stancil ·


WHO Chief: 'Dangerous' to Assume Omicron Is Last Variant

"On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Jake Johnson ·


British Court Rules Assange Can Appeal US Extradition

"As long as this case isn't dropped, as long as Julian isn't freed, Julian continues to suffer," said Stella Moris, Assange's fiancée.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Considering Deploying Thousands of Troops to Eastern Europe

Anti-war commentators warned of an "exceedingly dangerous quagmire" in Ukraine if the U.S. ramps up its military presence in the region.

Jake Johnson ·


Leaked Report Suggests Impunity for IDF Troops in Deadly Stop of Palestinian-American Elder

"This is a policy: Israel does not prosecute those responsible for harming Palestinians, thus making their lives miserable," said the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo