When did our civil discourse, and the media’s coverage of same, abandon facts and analysis and rely almost exclusively on emotion?
It happened slowly, but inexorably; it snuck up on us like a thief in the night. And nothing has made that phenomenon more obvious than the election of one Donald John Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America.
Politics has always been a rough-and-tumble business given to much overstatement and outright prevarication. But “back in the day,” we had the likes of journalists Lloyd Robertson and Knowlton Nash in Canada and Walter Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley in the U.S. to help us cut through the clutter and get at the facts.
Whom do we have to depend on now? Agenda-ized media celebrities pushing their own views and, in the U.S., 95 per cent of those comport with the Democratic Party platform. Most Canadian news outlets seem to get their “feed” from those biased sources, replete with the cyclonic editorial spin.
Herewith are several observations reliant more on facts than emotion:
Orange Man Bad — racist! Really? The oft-cited Charlottesville quote is out of context. President Trump wasn’t complimenting white supremacists; he was stating that the two sets of peaceful demonstrators, both of whom were co-opted by uninvited extremist groups, had valid points and the right to express them.
Also, it often goes unmentioned that President Trump has spearheaded legislation to bring billions of dollars of investment to disadvantaged minority neighbourhoods (Opportunity Zones). Under his watch, federal grants to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) are at historic highs, well in excess of levels in the Obama years. President Trump has championed criminal justice reform to remove many of the draconian measures championed by then senator Joe Biden in the late 1990s. This is but a small sampling of concrete examples proving that racism is not in President Trump’s DNA.
Orange Man Bad — liar! Donald Trump has some personality traits that would make American showman P.T. Barnum blush. His business roots are in real estate and entertainment — industries totally devoid of bombast and bravado. Right.
Yes, he is given to stating that many of his administration’s victories are beyond anything ever seen before. Since when did hyperbole equal lying? He is perhaps the most transparent president in recent memory. He will take press questions practically anywhere, including talking over the jet turbine whine of Marine One on the south lawn of the White House.
Anyone else remember Mr. T’s famous “I pity the fool” lines from the A-Team TV series that aired in the mid-1980s? That's how I feel about the poor interns at CNN, the Washington Post or other mainstream media outlets who are charged with chronicling and counting President Trump’s “lies.” Do they have an exaggeration column, too, to categorize things, or is it one size fits all?
Orange Man Bad — and stupid! A perfect example of this narrative is Bruce MacKinnon’s Oct. 3 editorial cartoon showing a hospital-gowned Trump — having just tested positive for COVID-19 — about to guzzle a bottle of bleach, yelling “I got this!”
If you go back to the original news conference video months ago during which the bleach issue came up, President Trump was engaged in a blue-sky dialogue with scientists. He was talking about how bleach disinfects things like tabletops and inquiring whether there was a medical equivalent of some sort of blood cleaner agent that could be helpful; he wasn’t advocating Clorox injections.
On a totally different tack, the U.S. has recently facilitated peace accords between Israel and several Arab states. I don’t think an intellectually challenged president could pull that one off.
Orange Man Bad — evil militarist! Love it or hate it, the U.S. is the world’s policeman. The world needs the U.S. military to be well-equipped and superbly trained. The Obama administration allowed that muscle to atrophy. While reducing America’s presence in foreign theatres, President Trump has reinvigorated the military’s readiness and morale. He has started no new wars. He has overseen the defeat of ISIS. He has convinced many of the other NATO countries to live up to their contractual obligations. Militarist warmonger? Je pense que non. Peacemaker? Je pense que oui.
There are many more examples of how an emotionally negative assessment of President Trump can blind the observer to facts and results, but space is limited — this is a column, not a book.
I don’t presume to win over anyone to the president’s side. This is just a simple request to objectively review facts and results before reflexively declaring Orange Man Bad.
Newfoundland native Bruce F. Evans, a former resident of Nova Scotia, now lives in Prescott Valley, Ariz.