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Donald Trump is a threat to the press and to freedom of speech

Trump’s impulse to dismiss the press as biased and propagandistic is authoritarian at its core


 
A man wears a shirt reading "Rope. Tree. Journalist." as supporters gather to rally with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A man wears a shirt reading “Rope. Tree. Journalist.” as supporters gather to rally with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

There are few rights more sacred to democracy than freedom of speech. Indeed, the ideas that underwrite our commitment to the notion that one ought to be able to express themselves without threat from the state or the government track closely with democracy as a way of organizing collective life going back to at least the Ancient Greeks.

In the modern era, free speech has become entwined with the right to a free press. The press plays several roles in contemporary democratic societies: it obtains and distributes information about economic, social, and political life that individuals would otherwise be unable to get for themselves—without great and prohibitive difficulty, at least. The media act as conveyors of opinion (for the purposes of argument) and context (for the sake of understanding). Our ink-stained and computer-strained journalists hold power to account—not just state or government power, but also economic and social power. Taken together, the media become facilitators of checks and balances, civic discourse, democratic empowerment, and general education. So, when President Trump attacks the press, he is attacking free speech and perhaps freedom itself.

The right to speech is meaningless unless it is underwritten by a public that knows thingsthat is, an educated public. For the people to hold power to account, they must be aware of what their leaders are up to and they must know for themselves what they prefer those folks be up to and why. Thomas Jefferson captured the spirit of this sentiment when he suggested, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” A second line of the quotation, attributed to Jefferson but unlikely his own words, continues “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”

MORE: Donald Trump’s “fake news” is the real news at Florida rally

When the president attacks credible news sources as “fake news” and calls them the “enemy of the American people,” he encourages his mob of mouth-frothing supplicants to insult, dismiss, and even threaten members of the press. When he attacks journalists who challenge him, he undermines trust in the fourth estate and threatens free speech—at least the speech of those who disagree with him (also known as a majority of Americans). The impulse to dismiss the press as biased and propagandistic is authoritarian at its core. The practice is chilling.

It matters very little whether Trump is attacking the press as part of a deliberate strategy to extend his authority, to distract from his failures, or because he’s a narcissistic ass who can’t help himself—or some combination of the three. The effect of his attacks are serious and dangerous. There are malign influences surrounding the president who are prepared to seize their moment regardless of his intent. There are disaffected and angry mobs who support the man and are prepared to harass his “enemies” and their own no matter what Trump intends. And even if the current occupant of the Oval Office turns out to be a minor infection of the body politic, he might clear the way for a much more dangerous pathogen to follow him.

clip from a 1962 interview with President John F. Kennedy has been making the rounds on the Internet lately. The president sat down for that chat in the Oval Office two years into the mandate he would never finish. Asked about the role of the press in the United States, Kennedy, who was still recovering from the sanguinary and failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, gritted his teeth and said, “Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn’t write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn’t any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.” He also cited the role of the media as an “invaluable arm of the presidency as a check really on what’s going on in [the] administration.”

More than three hundred years earlier, the English poet and polemicist John Milton responded to Parliament’s pre-publication requirement under the Licensing Order of 1643, which required that publishers obtain permission from the state and submit to registration prior to any printing, by writing Areopagitica. The name of the polemic was carefully chosen, drawing on the Areopagus, a hill in Athens used in Antiquity for various political matters (not always democratic). Milton was writing during the early days of the English Civil War, just as the form and substance of future government in much of the West was being shaped by bloodshed and argument. Ultimately, Milton, free speech and democracy prevailed.

MORE: Thirty days of Donald Trump

Today we risk abandoning the legacy of the democratic tradition and the rights that have served as its guarantors for centuries. The demonization of the press has coincided with the rise of the euphemistically lazy “alternative media,” which tends to be little more than echo chambers for the disaffected, whether publications find themselves on the far right or the far left. While some of the messages that resonate within those chambers are perfectly fair, plenty are far from it and the effect (and one imagines, the intent) of their advancement has been to polarize and to create partisan battalions more intent on battle than debate. At the same time, because of the nature of how we seek out our news today, one no longer must contend with or even be exposed to an unwanted idea.

The fracturing of the media landscape by alternative publications, algorithms that “curate” newsfeeds for us, the proliferation of for-profit fake news, and the deployment of propaganda in the service of partisan interests has allowed Trump to mobilize his supporters against the “mainstream media.” Trump didn’t invent the tactic of declaring war on a “biased” press; he didn’t dream up fake news or propaganda or fringe news outlets. He has merely used them better than others have, as a master carpenter would use a chisel.

We thus face the confluence of several dangerous contemporary realities that leave us vulnerable to democratic retrenchment. The first line of defence against the erosion of democracy is unsurprisingly the one under the most vicious attack from those who would prefer to substitute their own partisan reality for the one we otherwise share; that line of defence is free speech supported by a free and robust press.

Neither a press nor free speech can exist in a contemporary mass democracy without the other. For those who are committed to resisting belligerent sectarianism and leaders like Trump who demonstrate authoritarian tendencies, the troubling news is that our words and arguments and ideas are under attack; the encouraging news is that they remain, as they have for decades, among our most effective means of resistance.

 

David Moscrop is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia and a writer. He’s currently working on a book about why we make bad political decisions and how we can make better ones. He’s at @david_moscrop on Twitter.

 

 


 

Donald Trump is a threat to the press and to freedom of speech

  1. The so-called “press” in the United States is six mega-corporations that all basically think alike, and who are basically PR organizations for the Deep State, banksters, corporations, and the plutocrats.

    Freedom of speech is important, but the “press” is not longer what it used to be. The “press” is no longer representative of the freedom of expression of the broad population. Corporate media concentration actually means free expression and actual journalism has been suppressed.

    Social media is allowing the disruption of journalism. It is facilitating peer-to-peer sharing of information without the gatekeepers of the six corporations the control the mainstream media.

    • Barack Obama imprisoned more American journalists than any President in history. But he couldn’t find one bankster to prosecute for the crimes that caused the global economic crisis. He was the ultimate sell-out to the Deep State.

      • You say the Press are basically PR organizations for the Deep State etc. Then you say Obama imprisoned journalists. I wasn’t aware of any journalists being imprisoned by Obama, but aside from that, I am wondering how the Deep State allowed its PR people to be imprisoned by Obama. I am also wondering why the Corporate media didn’t exert their power over Obama to ensure their guys didn’t get imprisoned.

      • https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/16/whistleblowers-double-standard-obama-david-petraeus-chelsea-manning

        Not every criticism of Donald Trump is somehow a comparison to Barrack where Obama comes out positively. I think we all know about Edward Snowden and how Obama felt about leaks to journalists and his lack of respect for the sanctity of their sources. The difference is Trump loved Wikileaks during the campaign when it was feeding him negative information about Hiliary and he himself exploited those leaks by reported all of them to his base during campaign speeches. He just doesn’t like any negative leaks about himself. Instead of espionage as Obama claimed the leaks were, Trump calls it “fake news.”

        • Snowden’s leaks were very damaging to Obama’s career-he had nothing to be pleased about. No wonder he labeled it espionage.
          If Clinton had done no wrong, there would have been nothing leaked worth talking about. But since she had, Trump used it appropriately against her. The campaign was not played by “The Queensbury Rules” by either candidate.
          Trump reacts to the extreme bias of the left MSM as well as lies (fake news) they produce. The most recent lie by CNN was when they said “reliable sources rumor that Trump is going to call out 100,000 National Guardsmen to round up illegal immigrants”. That was total B.S which CNN quietly later corrected. By then though a lot of damage had been done since it went through Facebook like fire. Facebook is where most of the people under 40 go to for their news today.

      • I believe the word you might be searching for here is LUGENPRESSE!

    • I am not sure how terrible of a job the Washington Post is doing. They seem to have gotten the Flynn story pretty accurate. If any kind of suppression is going on, I would say it is from the POTUS. Didn’t you hear that he had his son-in-law visit the owners of CNN to try to get some better press? When a POTUS is twittering threats to companies, that is highly irregular and when a civil servant, the advisor to the POTUS is shilling for his daughter’s business, that is also highly irregular. I don’t get the impression anyone suppresses Bill O’Reilly…not when he called Putin a killer and refused to apologize.

      • Didn’t you hear that Obama refused to be interviewed by Fox because they wouldn’t pander to him? Fox is the ONLY non left member of the MSM. CNN was called the Clinton News Network during the campaign. Since it’s owned by Warner’s, which was one of the biggest funders of Clinton’s campaign, the biased view of Trump they portray is understandable.

    • You just can’t seem to shake that severe case of ‘yellow journalism’ you’ve been suffering from since Trump’s election can you Maclean’s?

  2. Mr. Moscrop, could you explain how dismissing a press which is biased and propagandistic (including this publication) as biased and propagandistic is authoritarian? Media is certainly not facilitating ‘checks and balances’ or holding power to account when it is run by corporate power which has a stake in continuing to deceive people with corporate-friendly lies. They are certainly not acting as the ‘conveyors of opinion’ when they take on the role of propagandists and creators of opinion.

    Could you explain how you see CNN or Washington Post as ‘credible’ news sources, after their obvious and blatant bias for the corporate-sponsored candidate Clinton during the entire US election? Could you explain why you think the New York times apologized for their political bias during the election, if they weren’t in fact biased in their reporting?

    If you want to try to defend the reputation of your profession, and improve the 5% ratings for believability which people have for corporate fake media, perhaps you could try acting like a journalist instead of a cheap propagandist. Instead of hysterically attacking those who fairly criticize your kind, why don’t you start reporting in good faith and honesty for a change, without political bias or concern for how your corporate masters will react? How about calling out others in the media who do lie and bring shame on all journalists?

    Until you stop acting the part, you are a part of fake news, and it was shills like you who got Trump elected, so deal with it.

    I’m disappointed: I had the impression that UBC produced graduates of better quality.

    • The New York Times did not apologise for biased reporting. They apologised for misreading the attitudes and mood of their readership. Here is a quote taken from their letter to their readership after the election:

      “We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.”

      • “As we reflect on this week’s momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor…”

        Why would they need to rededicate themselves to this mission of honest reporting, without fear or favor, if they hadn’t been caught doing something different, and lost a lot of readers over it? And I doubt they would need to “reflect” on their polling and reporting methods, if they didn’t bear correction.

        The part about “we believe we reported… fairly” tacked on the end was their way of weaselling out of some responsibility for lying, without factually denying it, in my opinion.

    • There is a VERY distinct difference between biased and fake news. Trump’s deliberate attempt to blur and confuse the two (with evident success, as evidenced by your comment) is despicable and authoritarian.

      Is the media always right? No. Are they perhaps more biased than they ought to be? Yes. Are they blurring the line between news and opinion? Esp. in the States, and esp. on “News” channels – absolutely.

      The MSM needs to do better, sure. But “fake”? Absolutely not. And it is very dangerous to buy into Trump’s deliberate manipulation of the term.

      • Oh really. One lied that Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King from The Oval Office. The timing was impeccable-right in the middle of Black America celebrations. Several continue to lie that he has introduced a Muslim ban when there are 42 predominantly Muslim countries NOT on his travel ban list. CNN said there were a lot of protesters at Trump’s Florida rally. In reality there were 50 while there were 9000 supporters there. These are good examples of “fake” news to me.

        • The bust of MLK was on Inauguration Day (Jan. 20; Black History month – here as well as in the US – is February). The writer quickly admitted he made an error; all news outlets reported that an error was made. Not fake; a mistake.

          If that’s fake and deliberately misleading, then you also need to call out Trump’s team on the Bowling Green Massacre (for example; I can name a number of others). Trump & Co. make more mistakes – and tell FAR more outright lies (see e.g. size of crowd at inauguration; “alternative facts”) than the MSM.

          As for the ban-that’s-not-a-ban fiasco: The countries targeted are predominantly Muslim. Trump himself referred to Muslims multiple times when describing the ban. And plenty of Muslims NOT from those countries, including Canadian and British citizens (born and bred, with documentation) have been refused entry DESPITE promises that citizens of those countries would be permitted entry. So call it what you want – it smells like a Muslim ban from where I’m sitting.

          Finally, re CNN’s crowd size – can’t comment; hadn’t heard about that until now. Was probably too busy laughing at “what happened in Sweden last night.”

          Like I said – they make mistakes and have their biases. but not fake. Not even CLOSE to being as fake as what Trump spews on a daily basis.

          They tried to impeach Bill Clinton for ONE lie. Trump can’t get through the day without telling at least one whopper that make’s Bill’s lie look insignificant (as far as its impact on the country, anyway). You have to ask: Why is Trump still in office? Why no move to impeach?

          • Black History month was indeed in February but it was getting a lot of media coverage over the prior two weeks which was peppered with the lie about Trump.
            Conway quickly admitted that she had misinterpreted an ABC documentary of an FBI investigation in Bowling Green. It was about two known terrorists who had immigrated to the US and were making weapons for their terrorist buddies in Iraq. Part of what the FBI seized were videos (which Conway misinterpreted) that these two terrorists had taken of them killing American soldiers in Iraq. Take the time to watch the brief documentary in the link below- abad situation for sure.
            http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/al-qaeda-kentucky-us-dozens-terrorists-country-refugees/story?id=20931131
            The 7 countries in the temporary travel ban were all on Obama’s terrorist watch list. All but one are failed states with little to no immigrant documentation. The one which is not a failed state is Iran which is widely accepted as the largest supplier of terrorists in the world. So I guess by your standards Obama had a hate on for Muslims as well??
            While you were laughing at “what happened in Sweden” CNN was misinforming its viewers about protester crowd size. However, Trump had seen a news item (which I saw too) that said there had been some rapes in Sweden by Muslim immigrants as well as Sharia Law no go zones which the Swedish government was denying to help calm the growing internal concern of its people about the large number of Muslim immigrants in Sweden.
            Finally, Bill Clinton perjured himself under oath-that’s more than a lie-it’s a criminal offense!

          • So the reporter apologizing for the mistake isn’t OK, but Conway’s screw-up is perfectly forgivable? And you talk about media bias?

            The difference between what Obama did and what Trump did was that Obama acted on intelligence and started giving applicants from those countries much greater scrutiny. It became harder to get clearance to come in – but there was no outright ban. And it was properly planned and implemented. Whereas Trump just said “no one from these countries get in, starting… NOW!” No plan for implementation. Cutting off people who were already vetted and approved. Causing chaos.

            There was no real reasoning behind the decision; I have no doubt that he just wanted to show he was living up to his promise, and thought naming the same countries Obama had would protect him from backlash. He didn’t properly test the legality of his move; didn’t loop in anyone from oversight committees; did not provide an implementation plan. The only consideration was “Gotta show my peeps that I’m gonna ban Muslims, and that I’m getting the job done.”

            As for Sweden, that’s his backtracking story; at the time, he implied something major had happened the previous night. It hadn’t. Even his current claims are rather dubious and don’t align with the stats. My point, though, was that if he’s gonna layer on the crap that thick, it’s rather hypocritical to accuse others of stretching the truth (CNN). I don’t know how big CNN claimed the protest group was, but there were protesters. I doubt the exaggeration was anywhere near Trump’s exaggeration of inauguration numbers. Should CNN have done it? No. But using CNN as an example of “fake news” is rather a bit of pot and kettle syndrome, is it not?

            So as I said before, biased, but not fake. And at least as truthful as anything that comes out of Trump’s camp.

            [Side note: On the White House website, Trump posted his accomplishments. The second bullet claims he worked with Intel to create 10,000 jobs. First, yeah – Intel CEO posed with Trump to make the announcement; best to get on Trump’s side these days. But this plant has been in the works for years; stalled for a bit, then resumed – but Trump had little to do with it. Second: every report I’ve read said up to 3000 jobs – how did this get “rounded up” to 10,000?]

      • Biased news = fake news. When you make up stories and distort facts, you are telling lies, there is no way around it.

        After the huge backlash against corporate media for acting as Clinton’s personal cheerleaders during the election — when people realized they were being lied to by the same companies which bought Baby Eater Clinton, and were very pissed off — corporate media invented the meme ‘fake news’ to try to counter any inconvenient news stories or facts which exposed their corruption and lies.

        With laws being enacted around the world against publishing ‘fake news,’ it is becoming illegal to not lie to the people.

        • I agree that deliberately making up stories is fake news. Please point to ONE example where the MSM deliberately made up something and refused to retract it.

          Fake news is like the Comet Ping Pong Pizza BS that a lot of Trump supporters (including you, apparently, given the “Baby Eater” reference [you are aware that libel laws apply to online comments, right?]) still believe and spread (a fake news story that later led to real violence because someone was stupid enough to believe it and go there with a gun: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/05/gunman-detained-at-comet-pizza-restaurant-was-self-investigating-fake-news-reports). Or like the whole “birther” nonsense that Trump pushed for several years – long after it was proven he was full of crap. THAT’S fake news.

          Biased news is completely different. The facts are accurate; the way the facts are presented paint a picture that may be more or less favourable than the bare facts alone. Even then, a lot of people can’t tell the difference between a straight news piece and an opinion piece. The two are distinctly different. It doesn’t help that, with all the commentators mouthing off right after the facts are told, that news networks (in the US in particular) have blurred the line between reporting and giving opinion.

          So, no: biased news is not fake news. Nor are opinion pieces news. Learn to distinguish between them.

          • Retracting a lie doesn’t mean you didn’t lie-it’s just a sneaky way of spreading propaganda. By the time the lie is retracted quietly by the leftist MSM it has been populated throughout social media like Facebook and the damage is done.
            The most recent one by CNN was “sources tell us that Trump is going to call out the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants”. That shot through Facebook like a rocket and was complete B.S. My somewhat left leaning adult children get most of their news from Facebook. Re the National Guard lie, my daughter phoned and said, “See what Trump’s doing now!” I said CNN had just corrected this misinformation. Her view was that couldn’t be since it was all over Facebook.

          • It was a mistake. Trump had moved the bust and put Churchill in its place. The reporter failed to see MLK’s bust in its new location. That’s not a lie; that’s an error. A bad one, but an error nonetheless. And hardly quietly retracted; it got quite a bit of coverage. And at least they retract it; Trump’s side tends to double down when caught in a lie (and yes, while some are slips, like the Atlanta massacre or Joe Trudeau, others are deliberate lies). Think inauguration numbers, for one.

            Yeah, CNN could do a better job at times; they are getting to be almost as unreliable as Fox News, from the things I hear (I don’t watch either of them). But your adult children (and a good many others on both the right and left) need to take their social media feeds with a grain of salt. Anything that seems either bit “iffy”, look for multiple reliable sources before taking it as accurate.

            I have no problem with calling out the media on their bias, or pointing out their errors. Just like the politicians, they need to be held to account. But stop calling everything “fake news.” Reserve that term for things that truly are – like Comet Pizza.

          • Okay, here is CNN being busted interviewing their own cameraman massively overacting at a spontaneous anti-Trump rally organized by evil billionaire and enemy of democracy George Soros:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWNBWVHpnbY

            This is fake news: they didn’t have a biased interpretation of what an actual interviewee said, they told their employee what to say, to make the narrative they invented seem real. If CNN confined themselves to merely bias, then your argument might have some merit.

    • You would have to give a source for your 5 percent claim. Are saying 5 percent of Republicans believe Fox News is fake news?

  3. Unlike the politically correct left, including Canada’s “Human Rights” Tribunals Donald Trump is not trying to censor anyone. He’s calling out the biased press for what they are, nothing more.

    • Trump recently called the mainstream media the enemy of the people.

    • Are you delusional? Trump is absolutely trying to censor the press. His aim is to attack them until they uncritically parrot whatever he says. No pointing out his lies, or potentially dangerous outcomes. No contradictions. No opposition whatsoever.

      No attempt to pass laws… yet. But if he can get enough people to buy into his “fake news” BS…

      • Obama tried to have Fox News shut down. That would have got rid of the ONLY news station that isn’t alt left and the only one that tried to keep Obama honest. Fox has more viewers than CNN, MSNBC and ABC combined because it is the only one where you can hear about the other side of the story. A very sad state.

        • Obama did no such thing. All he did was not give them interviews, a policy he later reversed.

          You’re hysterical. There is no “alt-left” though there is a left but none of the news organizations are left just because they aren’t shrieking hysterically as you do.

          • So you believe CNN, MSNBC and the other MSM other than Fox aren’t very left biased? And you think I’m hysterical. I’ve got some swamp land to sell you.

        • Gee Jerome, even Bill O’Reilly who is probably the face of Fox News disagreed with Trump and called Putin a killer. Does Bill O’Reilly spew fake news? Explain how the Washington Post breaking the story that Flynn was discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador prior to the inauguration, which then lead to Donald Trump’s firing of Flynn….according to Sean Spicer because Flynn lied to Vice President Pence, is fake news. Why do I ask? The firing occurred one evening and the next morning, Trump blamed the press for the firing and called the press fake news. If the news was fake and Flynn was a “wonderful guy” why fire him? The press didn’t fire him, Trump did. If the story was fake, why did Sean Spicer say the story was true?

          • That’s the very point I’m making about Fox-the ONLY non left member of the MSM. Unlike CNN and the rest of the left MSM, Fox is balanced in its reporting as you witnessed with O’Reilly. Trump, however, did not refute O’Reilly’s claim that Putin was a killer. His answer was that the US was not clean in that area either. The Post the next day published a long article with many examples that supported Trump’s claim.
            The fake news that ruffled Trump was all the left MSM crap about the new administration being too friendly with Russia. Trump clearly viewed Flynn as a strong member of his team but he fired him because Flynn had lied to Pence.

      • It is Obama that tried to “censor” the press, to get it to tell his narratives only, by prosecuting more journalists than any other president in US history. i.e. using force to coerce the press.

        Trump is merely using free speech against the press, by calling them fake mouthpieces for the swamp. He is not using the force of the state like Obama did.

        • I didn’t agree with what Obama did. But what he did doesn’t excuse what Trump is doing (which is the topic of discussion, BTW).

          And Trump has only been in office a month; with the way he’s been talking, it would not at all surprise me to see more direct action on his part before too long. I think the “fake news” bit is just his opening salvo, to get his base riled up and ready for the real crackdown ahead.

          • Trump doesn’t want to silence the press, or coerce it, like Obama. He wants it around to use it as his whipping boy, his opposition.

            Obama was the totalitarian, with the press singing from his hymnbook. Trump wants the free press around so he can attack it. He wants the contrast between his hymnbook and the press’s hymnbook.

          • You might want to cut back on the ‘shrooms. They are affecting your connection to reality.

        • So, the Washington Post’s story about Flynn was true. Donald Trump fired Flynn but called the Post out for being fake news. Bill O’Reilly call Putin a killer. Donald Trump said Americans are killers. The Kremlin demanded an apology from Bill O’Reilly. He isn’t giving one. At what point does a journalist get recognized for their credibility? You are right about these large corporations with deep pockets and Donald Trump is not afraid to sue so if these journalists are lying, then why isn’t he suing for libel?

          • I covered this earlier in response to you about O’Reilly above. A key point is that the day after that balanced Fox interview, The Post published a long article with many examples supporting Trump’s assertion that the US certainly weren’t clean by any means.
            The lack of credibility of the left MSM is their ongoing assertion that Trump’s administration is overly friendly with Russia. A lot of this was because Tillerson was given a “Friendship Award” for investing $4 billion of Exxon’s capital in Russia. The rest largely because Trump would like to have an improved relationship with Russia where they can pursue mutual areas of benefit for both countries like crushing ISIS. So the media Russia crap is pure biased hype while Trump’s objective appears wise.

  4. I regret that neither of the major political parties presented a candidate worthy of the trust of this country or of yours, which is why, in my small rural county not yet infected with machines, I wrote in Astrid Hall for president. Astrid is my little dog. I did not throw my vote away; the political machines did.

    I do love my country, but Canada appears to be the only stable nation left in this hemisphere.

  5. I disagree with the author. The MSM has become terribly politicized and left biased and it’s that bias that Trump is protesting. He said in Florida “Their message is not your message” and he was right.
    At that rally, CNN reported that there were a lot of protesters present. Fox, however, panned over the group of protesters which numbered approximately 50. They said, “These 50 are a few very brave souls when they are outnumbered by close to 9000 Trump supporters”.
    In the 30 days of Trump article referenced above it says that Trump introduced a Muslim ban. In fact, he singled out 7 countries (the same ones Obama had on his watch list) for a 90 day temporary ban since these countries were known supporters of terrorism and with poor documentation and he wanted to use the 90 days to develop a sound vetting process for those wishing to come to the US from those countries. There are 42 other predominantly Muslim countries not on that list.
    Obama deported close to 3 million illegal immigrants-about half with criminal records and half who had no criminal record. There was very little media coverage of this but when Trump does the same thing but with 75% of his deportees having criminal records the left MSM yell bigot and racist.
    When he did a press conference with Netanyahu, he clearly said that he would support a 2 state solution or a one state solution whatever THEY (Israel and Palestine) thought was best. The MSM the next day ranted that Trump had broken strategy and supported a one state solution while what he really said was that he’d accept whatever worked.
    The message the biased MSM is giving is that their candidate Clinton lost and they don’t like it and that they will continue to do anything they can to discredit Trump. Trump campaigned for 18 months-warts and all- and, in spite of the warts, the electorate favored him over Clinton. And, unusual for a political leader, he is advancing the promises which got him elected.
    Trump is not against free speech, he is against extreme leftist media bias.

  6. Apparently they must not let students of UBC read Wikileaks. What is absolutely undeniable to anyone who read the Wikileaks releases during the election is that much of the US press is nothing more than a propaganda machine for the Democratic Party. This isn’t opinion. It is fact. Therefore, the idea that the press, when acting inappropriately, should not be criticized and claim that freedom of the press is in danger, is laughable. The press, to be specific, corporate media is not a purveyor of democracy. They are merely liberal advocates of political correctness and socialism. They deserve everything that they are getting from Trump. Citizens are finally encouraged to not merely be sheep who blindly believe that the press is a neutral dispenser of truth. The author of this article should immediately forget anything he learned from his liberal university professor and talk to real people.

  7. “There are few rights more sacred to democracy than freedom of speech.”

    Could you explain that to Canada’s human rights commissions? They’ve got other ideas.

    • Libel and hate speech seem reasonable limits. You don’t get to just make stuff up or verbally attack groups because you don’t like them.

      • You’re right Keith and that’s exactly what the biased MSM is doing to Trump and his team.

          • I gave you several which you refuted and then I defended. In the end you seem to have moved to a new bent “a lie is not a lie as long as you retract it”. That is B.S.

          • You’re taking this exchange in a totally different direction; it was about free speech and Canadian HRCs. I should have pointed that out in my previous response. See our other exchange, where I’ve replied to this.

          • I have never said that Trump is always truthful. What I’ve been trying to get across is that the majority of the left MSM are really no better. They all wanted more of Obama via Clinton and they lost. Now their focus is to do anything they can to discredit him. I have not tried to stick up for any lie Trump has made. But I have noted many that the left MSM have also made. So how is that scary to you? I am not a fan of Trump’s personality or his behavior-I think he is very crass. But I do wish his policies would head north-we could use an economic boost up here, more focus on fiscal restraint and some greater concern about our public safety. I believe Trump has wisely surrounded himself with some excellent people who will execute his policies in a sound manner.
            And this in not a defense-just some truth-the start of the birther crap was by Hillary Clinton when she was campaigning against Obama. Trump stupidly picked up the torch and Obama took way too long to shut him up with proof that Trump was full of crap.
            Finally , if you read through the comments you will see that there are many who feel just as I do about the biased left MSM.

        • From an article from several years back, celebrating the repeal of the section that gave them that power. Just a tad behind the times…

    • To Adam Peters,

      . . . . including covering up the truth by any means possible. Human Rights Tribunals.

  8. In the light of this article, and in the aftermath of the Gen. Mike Flynn episode, would the author(s) care to explain the media embargo on the Wikileaks revelation that high-ranking staffers of the Clinton campaign had
    off the record meetings with the Chinese ambassador in early 2016 (that we know of). That fact is germane to the discussion, as well as the ongoing discussion over the Trump campaign’s supposed ties to Putin.
    Problematically, the press cannot, with any semblance of rationality, discuss the Trump-Putin connection without acknowledging that one of the left’s lions- Ted Kennedy- approached the Russians when they were a far more actively dangerous enemy and asked their terrorist secret police to assist in the defeat of Ronald Reagan. Failing to add that context, or even the infamous Obama-Medvedev open mike incident, while bloviating about Trump and the Russians, is tantamount to journalistic malpractice.
    Maclean’s- Read your comments section. The advice you need in order to stave off your own self-destruction is here for the taking. We have no qualms about legitimate criticisms of the right. The key word being legitimate. That means there must be equal criticism of the left’s nascent statism, racism, and anti-semitism, or it’s propensity for violence. Or the simple lack of intellect that pervades the left. Start there.
    Up your M’f’n’ game, or you will go the way of the Edsel.

    • Flynn’s meeting with the Russian Ambassador was not the problem. The problem was telephone calls he had with the Ambassador which were taped. The calls were prior to the inauguration. Flynn was not in a position to discuss sanctions. It was illegal for him to do so. He should have known the phones would be tapped. Sources told the Washington Post. They wrote the story. Flynn had lied to the Vice President about the contents of the call(s). You are discussing other meetings. It is not illegal to have a meeting. It is what is caught on tape by the intelligence agencies that presents a problem. Trump claimed the FBI wasn’t being forthright about Hiliary’s emails so they did a second investigation 90 days before the election. The investigation was all over the media. I am not certain you could say the media ignored her. That 2nd FBI investigation and the media attention it garnered really hurt her in the election. The issue with Trump is his refusal to release his tax returns. Those would go a long way in showing he has no financial ties with other countries that could put him in an awkward position. As for your other claims. If the media had good sources (tapes or multiple sources), they would run stories on their own mother. They are corporations, in the business of making money. Journalists are also in the pursuit of the Pulitzer Prize. Breaking a big political boondoggle is a great achievement. I recall the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky story getting a lot of press as did Whitewater. The press was out to hang Bill Clinton. There were a lot of people on the left who thought the treatment was unfair. The press is going to sell newspapers. That is their only real agenda. Trump is making them a lot of money. I would bet advertising sales haven’t been this high in decades.

      • Just a clarification. EVERYONE has agreed that Flynn did nothing illegal including a host of White House legal staff. It is not unusual at all that new people who have been appointed to senior cabinet positions touch base with their counterparts in key countries (Flynn apparently contacted 20+-) to get relationships underway before the inauguration.
        The problem was that he lied to Spence not about talking to his counterpart in Russia but because he said that he did not discuss sanctions.
        The second Clinton email investigation was not because Trump raised a fuss but because the FBI found more emails on a key aide’s computer-that being Mrs. Anthony Wiener’s lap top that she shared with her demented husband..
        You don’t need Trump’s tax returns to know that he had business operations in many countries around the world. That has all been disclosed in a 100 page+ document he was required to file. That document will provide real fodder for the Democrats and left MSM to harass him every time he meets with one of those countries. However, other than ongoing harassment, it’s all smoke since the President is not bound by conflict of interest rules. I suspect the real reason he doesn’t want to show his returns is because it will show that he has grossly exaggerated how wealthy he is. His inflated ego would be crushed if that got out.
        Re Clinton, it was a real shame that after he was impeached that he wasn’t removed from office. He lied under oath and perjury is a criminal offence.

  9. Whatever happened to the National Enquirer? I’m sure their brand of journalism would be very attractive in today’s market.

    • You’re right. The National Enquirer has a striking resemblance to the leftist MSM that Trump is constantly battered with.

    • The National Enquirer still exists. Funny thing is when people claim that the National Enquirer lied about them, those people usually sue for libel. Why hasn’t Donald Trump sued?

      • Because the sneaky left MSM buggers retract their lies. Unfortunately, the damage is done by the time the retraction is made since the lie will have rocketed through social media like Facebook.

  10. Did you ever wonder why the majority of the MSM including this effing rag are folding. It’s because the are so biased towards one political party or another. The CBC although not folding (Thanks for the $1million bribe Justy) is a typical example of a new organization sucking at the tit (See Liberal Party of Canada). No one reads newspapers anymore, and if they are you can be assured that what you are reading is either 1) Bullshit or 2) a deliberate attack on a opposition party at the direction of the tit provider ie CBC. Watch P and P on CBC. The discussion party most always is comprised of 1 Con and/or NPD and 3 liberal supporters. It’s effing disgusting. I can almost see Trudeau’s shot spots on Rosie Barton’s chin. No wonder The Rebel is more popular that MacLeans.

    • The Donald is making a lot of money for the press. His outrageous claims….I had the biggest crowd ever at my inauguration; My team is running like a well oiled machine…..Flynn is a wonderful guy…..illegal leaks and a fake press made him resign, etc., etc. Are just selling papers and not just in North America but all over the world. Maybe this is what The Donald meant about creating jobs.

      • You said earlier that I was “scary” and I have responded above why that fear of yours should be put to rest. However, I have NEVER seen you note one positive thing about Trump and it is unclear to me why you, who proclaims to be a Conservative, cannot find some good in any of his policies. Nor why you won’t recognize that the bulk of the left MSM wanted more of Obama via Clinton and they are angry because they thought Trump was a joke and he beat her. Now their bent is to discredit him as much as they can, whenever and wherever they can.

  11. The public in the West hasn’t learned to read in between the lines or dismiss rubbish news. They believe news that confirms their thinking. I’ve done the same but I try to catch myself. It’s hard.

    Trump is setting himself up as the sole source of truth. Media is supposed to challenge and inform.

    • You are dead on. The problem is that the media fails consistently to challenge those with whom they share a particular world view. Hence, the Obama’s and the Trudeau’s and the Notley’s and the Wynne’s are handled with kid gloves, and the Harper’s and the Trump’s attacked with spittle-flecked fury and invective.
      You (the media) can’t tell us you’re the arbiters of (at least a reasonable form of) the truth when we have watched you fawn over the likes of Trudeau and Obama and Hillary m’f’n’ Clinton. Tone down the anti-conservative rhetoric, and demonstrate a willingness to tackle the left with equal veracity, and we will move forward together. But, the anti-conservative, sky is falling, our hair is on fire, act is getting real old real fast. Grow the f–k up.

      • You’re right Bill.
        Right after Trump won on Nov.4 I heard a bunch of shocked “news” people on CNN agree that they needed to get out of the office, visit with the voters and find out how they were so far off in their predictions. That has not happened at all. They’ve spent their entire time sniffing their own gas.

      • https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8wM248Wo54U

        I cannot believe you would compare Stephen Harper and Donald Trump. They have absolutely nothing in common. Stephen Harper wasn’t popular with some but he was never disrespectful of women. He was pro-abortion; pro gay marriage and he did what was best for the country. He certainly did not treat immigrants poorly.

    • The “media” in the US is basically six incestuous mega-corporations networked into the fabric of the Deep State.

    • It is called confirmation bias where one reads and sticks to news that confirms what one already believes. You believe the press is fake and so you read stories and stay on blogs that say that. I believe The Donald’s and idiot and so……

  12. If the media these days were so embarrassingly and despicably leftist, then maybe we’d actually believe what the MSM says. CBC, Macleans, Globe and Mail, all leftist trash up here. CNN, WP, NYT, all leftist trash down south. If they actually offered a balanced, unbiased report on anything that would be a miracle.

    But no, everything out of their garbage pile is leftist propaganda piece, promoting globalism and neo-liberalism, while demonizing anything conservative. Author is a leftist trash writer, and mad that people don’t eat up the propaganda like candy. MSM is a threat to freedom of speech, because only the left gets their voices heard…the right is actively shut down everywhere.

    • Of course, there’s always the possibility that they are more middle-of-the-road but just appear left-leaning to those with myopically hardcore conservative values.

      Left of you doesn’t always mean left-wing. Globe and Mail isn’t (shoulda gone with the Star there); with Macleans it can depend on the writer.

      Someone I was in a relationship with a few years ago did a paper on media bias in Canada for a course she was doing. We were both rather surprised when the evidence all pointed to a slightly right-wing bias (centre-right). Which probably makes sense given most are owned by major corporations – though we both had bought into the long-stated myth that Canadian media was generally left-leaning.

      Always keep your own bias in mind when evaluating others. Your perception is not reality. Or at least, not the only reality.

        • Yeah – doing a paper on bias in Canadian media, we should have looked at an American study of bias in the American news media. [SMH]

          And bear in mind that the US is generally to the right of Canada in all respects. To them, the CPC would probably be to the left of the Democrats. So what looks “centre-right” to the average Canadian would appear “leftist” to the average American.

          [In Canada, I think our bigger worry is how the media is very major-city-dominated; issues and voices from other regions get far less coverage. Less populous areas, regardless of political stripe, feel they have no voice. I think something similar is largely responsible for the rise of Trump in the US.]

          There is no such thing as a completely bias-free media. But one that tries its best to present the facts without too much spin, and balance opposing views (resulting in what, for that society, would appear a “centrist” view) is about as good as we can hope for. I think we do a better job of that in Canada than the US. But we are starting to slip here, as well.

          • Keith, you make two very valid points. While I would vehemently disagree with you that the CPC is left of the Democrats, I think you are wholly correct in that there is no such thing as a bias-free media, and that the Canadian MSM is probably a little right of the US MSM. Witness the slow but steady emptying of the Trudeau bandwagon, for example.
            What I’ve seen over the decade of Obama has been a very severe deterioration of the American media establishment. As the Obama years wore on, the partisanship displayed by the media grew more intense, not less as usually happens. Instead of an increasing willingness to point out the warts of an administration, the American press went in the opposite direction to a point of abject refusal of some news outlets to allow anything but mere hints of criticism.
            To wit, they stifled their own speech to the great detriment of the American people. (For example, the vehement disinterest in the Lois Lerner IRS scandal. Add in the EPA scandals, and Benghazi, where it could be argued cogently that the press’s desire to help get Obama re-elected over-rode their desire to grasp and communicate the ugly truth.)
            Thus, one cannot but look at cries of suppression of the press by Trump with a jaundiced eye.
            In Canada, we do have the same problem of a biased press acting against the interests of the Canadian people. To date, it has either not been as severe, or at least as visible. However, the curious lack of curiosity about things such as what drives the global warming agenda, or such simple things as the social costs of socialism, allows for the continued encroachment and expansion of the state with not nearly enough questions as to the costs of the growth of the confiscatory state.
            You simply can’t get through a daily paper in any city in Canada, on any given day, without coming across some story about some new proposal to expand the authority of the city or the province or the federal government described in glowing terms, while the concerns about such from those being expected to pay for it are downplayed.
            Now, that may not count as a lie, but it’s certainly a gross mischaracterization of the truth. We have arrived at a juncture whereby the right has been emboldened. We have long seen the press seemingly failing to inform. The last decade and some has given us the impression that this failure to inform was not as much incompetence as it was malice, and lots of evidence to support that view. When we see the press doubling down in the face of the right’s righteous anger, that’s where the problem begins.
            By reacting to our demands to be more balanced with what appear to be declarations to be even less even-handed than in the past is a lose-lose proposition, but it’s one that only one side can correct, and it ain’t us keyboard warriors out here in tax-land. We can only hand over the map.
            Lastly, there is a profound irony in a UBC Ph.D candidate proposing to write a thesis on why the public makes bad electoral decisions, and how they can make better ones, writing a column about press freedom.
            I can tell you right now that Moscrop’s definition of “better electoral choices” means “NDP” or a variation thereof. The irony being that socialist national governments pretty much take cudgels to freedoms of the press and speech. Oy vey!

          • One of my favourite US media shows is Real Time with Bill Maher. He admits to being a Democrat but he has Repulicans on his show regularly and they discuss the media. US politics is far removed from Canadian politics. Stephen Harper would have been a Democrat. Despite what people said, he was no tea party member. There is also no future for an alt-right party in Canada and those far right Conservatives that believe there is are not thinking straight. Ezra Levant is among the most biased of any journalist. He certainly isn’t concerned with giving both sides of the story. You complain about the CBC but they have Rex Murphy on regularly and he is pretty far right. I studied journalism and the best advice I got from any professor was to read every newspaper. If one wants to get the real news, look at all the sources. Of course there is bias, it is impossible for there not to be…..editors and publishers are human beings. Just like you, they are partisan to some degree, no matter how hard they try to be objective. The mistake is in lacking insight into one’s own bias. I know I could never support Trump. He has told so many untruths and been so disrespectful to my sex. It might bother you, but we make up 50 percent of the population. I also don’t approve of him using his job as a civil servant to flog his family’s business interests. He is servant of the people and he has certainly forgotten that.

          • Keith,
            You are a master at changing the topic. The whole article relates to Trump’s fight with the American media. As far as I know he doesn’t have one with the Canadian media.

  13. On the subject of “Press Freedom” and “Freedom of Speech”, I notice with much incredulity that Maclean’s magazine has to date has not considered it newsworthy to report on Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent meeting in Washington with Pres, Donald Trump resulting in a possible change in the status of the “Two State Solution” to the Israeli/ Palestinian Middle East conflict.
    Nor has it reported on the alarming rise in anti-Semitic “incidents” occurring world-wide.
    Does Maclean’s not consider these events worthy of comment? If not, why not?

    • Actually, The 24 CBC news channel reported on both of those news items today. Namely, the possibility that a solution was floated to establish a Palastian state in Sinai (currently belonging to Egypt) during the Trump and Netanyahu meeting and that anti-Semitic graffiti has been popping all over, especially in Quebec. I don’t find it uncommon for Macleans to ignore some news stories….even some pretty big ones.

  14. macleans thinks that it is above it all, the fact is you are an isolated fringe joke; no one reads you, but, ironically you have a commentary site, whereas the Ottawa sun and the Toronto Sun and the Star does not and the Globe…they are even worse they make you go through a Stalinist indroctrinatinon process and the CBC they are pathetic beyond belief….long time since you had to wait two weeks to talk with Barbara Amiel and Allan Fotheringham.

  15. The real threat to Freedom of Speech in Canada is Zoolanders M103…..

      • I disagree. The Liberal bill specifically mentions Islamophobia. The Conservatives put forward a motion that the statement should cover all religions without emphasis for one over the other. I agree with that view. I believe there is as much or more anti-semitisim in Canada as there is Islamophobia. Covering both of those would be better than just one but covering all would be much better still.

  16. Trump is taking advantage of an unbelievable weakness in the power of the president to become a dictator. He will be the worst kind, an insane ego mad liar who has billionaires as buddies and the kkk, neo nazis and every kind of sickos voting for him. The fact the republicans are backing him proves their moral fibre, the democrats by not taking legal action are not much better. So far the media and the rest of Americans seem to think this is some kind of joke that will work itself out. Instead given the kind of actions against illegal immigrants there are a lot officials who wouldn’t mind that kind of dangerous power.
    I keep on thinking of Hitler talking about how close germany and holland were, saying he would not invade holland just before he did. And as a signal what he thought of resisting bombed Rotterdam flat. We are trump’s neighbours feel better yet?

    • Thanks for your hysterical screed. A textbook example of the delusional paranoid ranting of a victim of an advanced case of Trump Derangement Disorder.

  17. After reading the comments from people who either are clueless how the world works or so blinded with their own thoughts they just can not hear, read or see anything other than the rut they thought themselves in.
    Now is the time to become very very afraid.

    • A very good description of the leftist MSM. We should be very afraid of such distorted bias in the “news”

  18. And Maclean’s is merely another member of the lügenpresse!

  19. I don’t think Trump is as big a threat to the mainstream media, as they themselves are. I didn’t believe Trump had a chance in hell of winning the election because I only read mainstream publications such as this one, in fact, the only paper that seemed to give Trump the slightest chance was a tabloid, The Toronto Sun. Listening to the mainstream media now reminds me of a visit to a daycare a few years ago where the children had been brought inside from the outdoor play area because it was starting to rain, one child refused to come in and was throwing an epic tantrum. One of the workers said “He’s new here, I don’t think he’s ever been told ‘no’ before.” Eventually though, he gave up and came inside.
    One can only hope the mainstream media does likewise, insulting Trump and his followers can only get you so far, making ludicrous and paranoid predictions will do you 100x more harm than they’ll do Trump.

  20. ” . . . leaders like Trump who demonstrate authoritarian tendencies, the troubling news is that our words and arguments and ideas are under attack; ” (last paragraph).

    poor you. poor powerless press. Do you not see that you are the grandest authoritarians of all, with the greatest of networks, ready to gang up on Trump through closing ranks on him – him, one person, you – well , you figure it out.

    poor you – your words and arguments and ideas are under attack? Can you not figure out why, you, who appear in the west to share practically the same views on everything, including being against Trump. That must be very troubling for you, to not understand that you are so biased that your minds won’t allow you to open up to the truth.

    When David Moscop tacks this onto the end :

    ” the encouraging news is that they remain, as they have for decades, among our most effective means of resistance”, is “us” the Press. And is “our” meant to stand for the Press or for the ordinary people of the west?

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