“Tall and trim, Justin Trudeau channels the star power of his storied father but is less confrontational.” So the Washington Post described the Canadian Prime Minister on Sunday—an introduction that foreshadowed the meagre American news coverage of Canada’s favourite cover guy.
As Trudeau arrived at the White House on Monday morning, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune only ran wire stories about the visit, written by a Canadian. Rob Gillies of the Associated Press listed the textbook Trudeau identifiers: supportive of free trade, hospitable to refugees, a self-declared feminist—“a polar opposite to Donald Trump in almost every way.” In California’s Sacramento Bee, Judie Rae, a Canadian expat, lauded Trudeau as “smart,” “funny,” “kind,” and a page of other compliments synonymous with “sunny.”
— TIME (@TIME) February 14, 2017
Hair and Pierre were two themes in the American treatments of Trudeau. “The telegenic 45-year-old leader of Canada’s liberal party” is how The Los Angeles Times described him. “He is not expected to poke the new president like his late father,” Gillies wrote in his wire story. In a version that appeared in The Miami Herald, Gillies added that Trudeau gifted Trump a photo of Pierre, which Trump promised to keep in a “very special place.”
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) February 13, 2017
The deepest backgrounder on Trudeau came courtesy of CNN, in which Ottawa correspondent Paula Newton chronicled his Christmas vacation and accused him of “using” the Quebec mosque shooting to “double-down on his message of inclusion.” Newton recalled Elbowgate as proof of his just-not-readiness and concluded, “a series of scandals – and a new neighbor in the White House – have ushered in a good dose of gloom.”
Of course, the shallow Trudeau coverage was a result of a media corps frying bigger fish. Turmoil in the National Security Council, the blitz of policy dismantling, the Grammys—for American media, the day of Trudeau’s visit was just another manic Monday.