Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Mr./Madam President, 

Newspapers have played a vital role in our country’s history of public discourse, increasing our knowledge and awareness about what takes place around us. 

The stories they print keep us informed, while building a sense of community and regional identity. 

Newspapers drive political debates and set the agenda, helping us make sense of the issues impacting our world.

As one of the oldest continuously published newspapers west of the Mississippi, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has been a resource of information that keeps readers connected to community, the state and our nation for 200 years.

In 1819, William E. Woodruff published the first edition of the Arkansas Gazette, the Arkansas Territory’s first newspaper. 

There was no shortage of news to print in those days. During its early years, the publication encouraged settlement to the region, shared news of national importance and promoted statehood.  

For generations this publication has been a primary source of reliable and comprehensive news that has shaped the way Arkansans view the world. 

It has consistently challenged the status quo and examined the decisions of elected leaders while pursuing transparency and accountability.

The work the Gazette produced often resulted in positive change in the Natural State. 

In 1957, the newspaper opposed Governor Orval Faubus’ decision to prevent integration of Little Rock Central High School.

For its reporting on the struggles of integration, the Gazette earned two Pulitzer Prizes -- one for meritorious public service and the other awarded to its executive editor, Harry Ashmore, for editorial writing, marking the first time a newspaper had won two Pulitzer Prizes in the same year.

The paper and its spirited competitor, the Arkansas Democrat, contended for readers and advertisers for decades. 

In 1991, the Gazette was sold to the owners of the Arkansas Democrat who then launched the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the only statewide newspaper that Arkansans read today.

The importance of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in today’s media landscape can’t be overstated. In some cases, it is the sole source of news for many small towns in Arkansans as local newspapers continue to cease operations, especially those serving in rural areas. 

Under the leadership of Walter Hussman Jr., the Democrat-Gazette is navigating this challenging industry landscape and creating opportunities to keep readers informed while keeping costs manageable.

Hussman and his team are rethinking how and what news they deliver to readers as well as how subscribers can and like to consume it. 

To cut printing and transportation costs and combat declining advertisement revenue, the paper is now using iPads to maintain subscribers and continue providing this valuable, not-easily replaced service to the community. 

In an interview earlier this year about his efforts at the Democrat-Gazette, Hussman noted his view that the print model is not sustainable. 

But he voiced his commitment to finding a solution that will fill the void because, as he says, society and our democracy will be impeded if we don’t have newspapers. 

Throughout periods of change, Hussman and the newspaper he owns continue to believe in the critical role that news gathering and reporting plays in informing the public. 

Every day, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the other publications owned by the Hussman family publish a statement of core values that include “objectivity, impartiality, integrity and truth-seeking.” 

This clear, sensible mantra consistently helps guide the work done by the reporters and editors in the paper’s newsroom.

Journalism is a pillar of democracy. Our founders understood the importance of a free press and included protections in the First Amendment that safeguard and ensure the ability of reporters and the publications they write for to hold the powerful to account. 

Earlier this year, I was proud to support the World Press Freedom Day resolution and recognize the sacrifices journalists around the world make in their effort to report the truth. 

We must continue to promote a free and open press in the United States and around the globe. 

In today’s climate, we all share responsibility for acknowledging the value and necessity of press freedom while at the same time not shrinking away from appropriate scrutiny and fair criticism. 

The health and well-being of our society and civic life depends on striking the right balance in this regard.

For 200 years, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has kept individuals informed about moments and events of significance in Arkansas, our country and the world. 

I congratulate the newspaper’s leaders and staff for pursuing facts and accountability as they have created and sustained the publication as a responsible and reliable source of information.

As the Senate returns to session today, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the highlights from the in-state work period. It was great to be able to spend a long, uninterrupted period on the road in the Natural State, visiting with Arkansans and learning what we need to be focusing on in Washington to improve their lives back home. 

  • KASU’s Morning Edition: While in Jonesboro, I visited KASU’s studio to chat with Johnathan Reaves during Morning Edition. We discussed veterans’ issues, agriculture, trade and opioids. The entire interview is archived here
I’ve introduced a bill – the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act – which aims to achieve global gender parity in economic activity by expanding access to U.S. backed enterprise development programs for micro, small, and medium sized businesses and integrating gender analysis and equality into the strategies and projects undertaken by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

ICYMI: Tele-Town Hall

Aug 01 2018

Thank you to the Arkansans who participated in my most recent telephone town hall that we conducted on Monday, July 30. I appreciated hearing the concerns and answering questions about a wide range of issues important to them including veterans benefits. If you missed the event you can listen to the conversation here. 

Join our next tele-town hall by signing up here.

Veterans are used to being part of something bigger than themselves. I enjoyed getting to see that in action with Sheep Dog Impact Assistance in Gravette. Bringing together veterans and first responders to build camaraderie is a good approach to combatting the challenges facing many of our heroes.
The Senate started this week off by passing The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This vital national security bill authorizes $716 billion for our nation’s defense to ensure our military is prepared to address the wide-range of threats the U.S. and our allies face in the world today. I’m hopeful that my amendment will be included in the conference report that comes before the House and Senate, and eventually makes it to the president’s desk to become law. The feedback I’ve received from our military leaders tells me that we have to be strategic and clear-eyed about the situation developing in Eastern Europe and my amendment is just one piece within a larger blueprint to help the Pentagon toward this end.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is conducting a review of cases evaluated by a former pathologist at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center who was found to be impaired while at work. This physician has since been terminated. A preliminary investigation by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General found this physician misdiagnosed patients. The VA is now conducting a thorough review of all cases read by this pathologist and investigating the extent of misdiagnoses.

This misconduct is incredibly disturbing. Understandably, veterans and their families who receive care at the Fayetteville VA are frustrated and concerned about whether these misdiagnoses impact them. I am committed to getting answers for impacted veterans and their families and making sure the VA holds accountable those individuals responsible for this misconduct.

Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t know the extent of this pathologist’s errors. The VA is in the process of notifying patients whose cases were evaluated by this pathologist and will additionally contact these individuals after their case review is completed.

Patients who have questions or concerns can call 866-388-5428 or 479-582-7995. This call center is staffed by VA nurses specifically to answer questions and address patient concerns about this review process. 

The VA announced a town hall meeting to be held on Monday, July 9 at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville in the auditorium of building 3 to discuss updates about its pathology reviews. 

My office is ready and willing to help veterans and their families affected by this alleged negligence. For assistance, please call any of my Arkansas offices and let us know you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran who receives care at the Fayetteville VA. I am committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the health care they earned in service to our country and overseeing that the VA is providing the quality care they expect and deserve. 

My staff and I put together a video to show Arkansans what one of my typical days working for them in Washington, D.C. looks like. We wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on during an average day: meetings with Arkansans & stakeholders, attending committee hearings, giving a speech on the Senate floor and helping to celebrate worthy causes are just a few of the highlights. Watch the video to see for yourself how the day unfolds.

It's an honor to represent you. I'm working hard to use the power of this office for good, help make your life better and ensure that future generations will enjoy the many benefits our state and country have to offer.