Blinded by PM’s sunny ways, U.S. me­dia fail the pub­lic

Trudeau is not ex­actly keep­ing his prom­ises or do­ing any­thing that might place this coun­try on a solid foot­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions

Cape Breton Post - - Op-ed - Vi­nay Menon Na­tional Af­fairs Vi­nay Menon is a na­tional colum­nist with Torstar Syn­di­ca­tion Ser­vices. He can be con­tacted at vmenon@thes­tar.ca.

Justin Trudeau is on the new cover of Rolling Stone and please don’t beat your­self up for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a rush of con­flicted feel­ings.

On the up­side, it’s al­ways refreshing when the U.S. me­dia glance over the bor­der and de­vote ink – in this case, nearly 7,000 words – to what is a for­eign story.

There is no free trade when it comes to me­dia cov­er­age.

In Canada, we cover Amer­ica as if it’s our most im­por­tant prov­ince.

But in Amer­ica, un­less a story is sen­sa­tional enough to el­bow its way into the do­mes­tic spot­light – a vi­cious road-rage beat­ing in Peterborough, say, that’s cap­tured on video – the U.S. me­dia tend to ig­nore us the way a high school quar­ter­back might brush past the trea­surer of the chess club on his way to wolf­ing down a burger and fries in the caf.

Amer­ica gorges on it­self and we are starved for at­ten­tion.

So when the mikes and the cam­eras do clear cus­toms, when Canada is fil­tered through the prism of stateside out­lets, we are on high alert for any dis­tor­tions and er­rors, big and small. (In the Rolling Stone opus, there was a ref­er­ence to the “Royal Cana­dian Moun­tain Po­lice,” which I sup­pose should not be con­fused with CSIS, or the “Cana­dian Se­cu­rity Igloo Ser­vice.”)

You see, when it comes to cov­er­ing Trudeau, the U.S. me­dia are now so grate­ful he’s not Don­ald Trump, they con­tinue to li­on­ize him in a way that is fail­ing read­ers on both sides of the bor­der who may be­lieve in­com­pe­tence is not a zero-sum game.

Sure, your guy is a de­monic clown. We get that.

But you know what? Our guy is not ex­actly keep­ing his prom­ises or do­ing any­thing that might place this coun­try on a solid foot­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

This is some­thing the U.S. me­dia can’t grasp in the fog of Trump.

From the open­ing para­graphs to the un­end­ing sub­text to the pant­ing cover-line query – “Why Can’t He Be Our Pres­i­dent?” – the Rolling Stone pro­file of Trudeau that landed on Wed­nes­day is so glow­ingly sub­mis­sive, so blind­ingly quixotic, that even if you tool around in a T-shirt that reads “Sunny Ways,” you might be wise to put on shades while skim­ming to avoid dam­ag­ing your reti­nas.

This two-state me­dia dy­namic is clear: It’s much eas­ier for Cana­dian me­dia to cover Trump than it is for U.S. me­dia to cover Trudeau.

Trump is so de­tached from all rea­son­able stan­dards of de­cency and in­tel­li­gence that he is a car­toon vil­lain.

He is a fool on the hill who hurls thun­der­bolts from his so­cial me­dia citadel, in­sults that are in­vari­ably pow­ered by para­noid scorn and delu­sions of grandeur be­cause, in the ab­sence of any real ac­com­plish­ments for this White House, un­hinged tweets are all he’s got left.

Trump is pres­i­den­tial in the same way my cat is a Tif­fany lamp.

His sup­port­ers be­lieve the fake me­dia is on a witch hunt – that their beloved leader is un­der siege by di­a­bol­i­cal elites who are wag­ing par­ti­san war­fare. They are mis­taken: From the start of this doomed odyssey, Don­ald Trump has been un­der siege by Don­ald Trump.

His in­ep­ti­tude, naked greed, lu­natic ego-crav­ings and se­vere al­ler­gies to both pol­icy and hard work have ex­posed in­tractable fail­ings as both an elected of­fi­cial and a hu­man no sen­si­ble per­son would now choose to de­fend.

This makes cov­er­ing him easy, al­beit ex­haust­ing: Watch him shoot him­self in the foot and doc­u­ment the blood­shed. Re­peat. Re­peat again.

Any­thing less is jour­nal­is­tic mal­prac­tice.

But for the U.S. me­dia, in both the crosshairs of Trump’s in­con­ti­nent rage and the vor­tex of his death spi­ral, cov­er­ing Trudeau is not as straight­for­ward. There is no ob­vi­ous mon­ster.

Whether he’s on the cover of GQ, in an is­sue de­voted to “The Most Stylish Men Alive,” or brood­ing in black and white in Vogue as “The New Young Face of Cana­dian Pol­i­tics,” the U.S. me­dia have al­ready chalked out Trudeau’s sil­hou­ette in a fairy tale imag­in­ing that con­tin­ues to en­dure.

In style and tem­per­a­ment, Trudeau is the anti-Trump. He projects ide­al­ism on the world stage. He is not vile, at least not in any per­sonal sense. And this yearn­ing for an anti-Trump to call their own means the U.S. me­dia are gloss­ing over or ig­nor­ing the trou­bling sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween both lead­ers, not the least of which is an ob­ses­sion with celebrity that is ul­ti­mately coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to gov­er­nance.

Yes, Trump is ob­vi­ously re­pul­sive. But is there not also some­thing re­pul­sive in walk­ing back elec­toral re­form or dither­ing on Indige­nous crises or blow­ing through tax­payer dol­lars with the fis­cal re­straint my young daugh­ters exhibit at Toys “R” Us? If Trudeau ever spends a lit­tle less time sit­ting for cover sto­ries or mak­ing cameos on award shows and pod­casts, he might start break­ing fewer prom­ises.

In Canada, day af­ter day, the me­dia hold a flame-thrower to Trump’s toes. But as we can see from this Rolling Stone pro­file, Amer­ica only has a con­cert lighter it holds up in the dark­ness while cheer­ing on Trudeau.

The at­ten­tion might be nice. But a bit more neigh­bourly hon­esty would be even bet­ter.

“Yes, Trump is ob­vi­ously re­pul­sive. But is there not also some­thing re­pul­sive in walk­ing back elec­toral re­form or dither­ing on Indige­nous crises or blow­ing through tax­payer dol­lars …?”

Trudeau

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