Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kid Gloves Continues for PM Trudeau

Despite the fact that we have seen Prime Minister Trudeau slug it out in the boxing ring it appears that the press in general is quite content to treat him and his government with kid gloves. I noted some reaction by media observers of the coverage of the Prime Minister in the wake of this exchange. 

A reporter begins with a joke asking Trudeau to explain quantum computing, and then after the laughter dies down asks a real question about the government's arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Instead of dealing with his government's hypocritical position to sell military hardware to a repressive regime he offered a humorous explanation of quantum computing. It was a funny clip, but the concern is in the reaction.

The video quickly went viral. The glee evident in headlines about the smart, sassy PM putting a reporter in his place. Odd given that his fellow media colleagues leapt upon him. There is a fundamental problem with the coverage of Trudeau - he's popular and he's clickbait. For fairly simply reasons people like Trudeau and like positive news stories about him. Media are desperate for traffic and so the clip of him making an 'off-hand' remark is far more effective than a long essay criticizing his government's hypocrisy vis-a-vis the Middle East.

Another wrinkle on this is the fact that apparently Trudeau was coached on what quantum computing was and was ready to deflect it. Much like the "It's 2015" line, it was carefully scripted and Trudeau is talented enough to make it appear natural.

I have mixed feelings about Stephen Lewis, but one thing that can be said for the man is that at the NDP convention he offered a full-throated criticism of the Trudeau government that has been far too absent in the public discourse. You can read the transcript of his remarks here. Where are the changes to Bill C-51? Where is the transparency of government, long promised?

Until public perception of Trudeau and his government shifts it is unlikely to move the public discourse significantly. This may be a reinforcing cycle though as the public has little criticism to glom onto, especially now that both major opposition parties are off in the wilderness. 

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