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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Valpy: Populist anger is real, and Canada had better wake up

On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, The New York Times posted a video by its media columnist, Jim Rutenberg, in which he declared that political journalism in America is broken.

"Mainstream journalists who were covering this race and cover politics," he said, "really didn't understand the anger and … how many people held that anger toward the status quo – how widespread that was in the country. And it comes after we missed Brexit. It shows that the global media is having troubles keeping up with the changes in the world."

All of the foibles of Mr. Trump that drew so much media attention, Mr. Rutenberg concluded, "drew us away from the other part of the story, which was how some large percentage of this country thought about the way things are going."

There is a big warning here for Canadian media commentators and the country's political elites in general who are currently lecturing Conservative Party leadership candidates about fuelling populist anger and dismissing as ignorant, small and mean the perturbations of their supporters who are expressing fear and resentment over how Canada is being run.

Those supporters are real people – and there are a lot of them. Dismissing them and their concerns, however crudely they may be stated at times – as the U.S. media did with Americans who flocked to Mr. Trump's standard – is frankly more likely to increase their numbers and more deeply entrench their anger and their (justifiable) sense of being held in contempt by the mainstream media and political establishment...

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