Tag Archives: fake news; donald trump; rita smith

Statues no problem for Obama – why?

During Obama’s 8 year presidency, no one ever requested that a Confederate statue or monument be removed. How odd.

There is no happier day for a political activist, a paid lobbyist or a concerned citizen than the day a government which shares their views is elected to office.

Whether you are an environmentalist fighting for protections, a business owner hoping for lower taxes, or a beleaguered driver who despises photo radar, the day “your” team takes over government is a day to celebrate and then double-down on your efforts to achieve regulatory change.

I worked for Canada’s conservative Minister of Health when we decided to ban Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby products. This move was greeted with ecstatic support by the left wing group Environmental Defense, headed up by former NDP staffer Rick Smith. We worked together for a rare period of time when the desires of both sides of the political spectrum coincided completely.

It was one of the best initiatives on which I ever worked. The day before the event, I mentioned it would be great to have some moms with babies at the announcement.

“Oh, I know lots of moms,” Rick offered. “I can make some calls.”

The next day, a parade of moms came pouring into the media briefing, commandeering the entire front row in order to park their strollers. It was fantastic!

It was a surreal experience to have Rick at our press conference, not criticising our government but instead speaking in full support of the ban. He held his own scrum, competently taking media questions on the political and scientific implications in French and English.

Which leads me to draw a comparison between our BPA ban and the Charlottesville street riots protesting Confederate statues and monuments. In the event that any of my friends actually believe these outrageous violent clashes had anything whatsoever to do with Confederate monuments, I suggest you ask yourself: where were all of these people and their organizations during the eight years Barack Obama was president?

Had these groups truly been motivated to seek change, they would have had Obama’s office on speed-dial the day after his election in 2008. They would have held productive meetings, developed practical plans, and moved forward with the work required to get the Confederate monuments removed.

Obama would have held an announcement event, flanked by supportive members of a wide variety of groups. He would have pointed proudly to the initiative in speeches and press conferences. What could have been better than to have America’s first black president address historic grievances which were causing untold pain for millions of Americans?

Why did none of this occur?

Because the trumped-up Charlottesville conflicts were designed to achieve one goal: discredit President Donald Trump. You have to admit, it looks pretty bad on him; only six months into his presidency, and already race riots are breaking out across the nation.

The good news is, race riots are not breaking out across America. A friend just returned from a vacation in South Carolina and knew nothing of the supposed “race riots” until he read about it in Canada.

“There was no tension anywhere…there were white families enjoying the beach and black families enjoying the beach and Indian families enjoying the beach and mixed families enjoying everything, and everyone existed in harmony,” he wrote. No one was trying to tear down anything, he noted, mystified by the media hysteria.

Most of my family lives in Detroit and they report only booming business, Tiger games and weekend landscaping projects.

Ignore the trumped-up news. The Americans are alright.

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Fake news, around forever

Pardon my fake news photo….this one was taken at Jarvis Collegiate, not Holy Name, however the set up of the Jarvis Collegiate photo was much the same as the Holy Name photo which featured my son Tom. I could not locate the Toronto Star/Holy Name photo, so I’m faking it with this one.

Fake news?

In 1998 when my son Tom was in Grade 8 he attended a special program at Holy Name School at Danforth and Carlaw in Toronto.

I was working for the Minister of Education in the Mike Harris government. It was a chaotic time, but I always felt my kids supported me.

One Friday morning, I pulled all the newspapers in from the front door and was shocked to see an enormous, half-front-page, above-the-fold photo of a protest at Holy Name School, as students were protesting the Harris government.

There, smiling brightly in the middle of the photo – one of the tallest kids in crowd, right in the front row – was my son Tom. I was gobsmacked.

I paced around for a couple of hours before everyone got up and out of bed to get ready for school.

When Tom finally came downstairs, I was waiting for him. I cleared my throat and spoke carefully:

“Honey….” I began tactfully, “What are you doing on the front page of the Toronto Star protesting the government I work for?”

“Ha!” Tom exclaimed, laughing skeptically. “Ma, that was no protest. The principal came on over the PA system and told everyone we were getting an extra recess and that we should go to the playground. So we all went to the playground, where a teacher directed us all to collect up along the fence. A photographer was waiting there to take our picture. After that, we all got an extra recess which everyone thought was pretty cool, so there were no complaints. There was no mention of any protest.”

While I was relieved to learn I was not being protested by my own son, I was disappointed to know the Toronto Star and the teachers would do such a thing. But you know what? It was a great learning experience for all three of my kids. None of them have ever read a news article without a healthy dose of skepticism since that day.

In fact, that same month there was an “education fair” at which students were invited to throw bean bags at a plywood cut-out of Mike Harris. This also earned the front page of the Toronto Star; when he saw it, Tom crowed in disgust: “Look at all those students, totally hypnotized by teachers!”

There has always been fake news.  It used to be called “Yellow Journalism,” and then “propaganda,” and next “advertorial,” “sponsored stories,” and then “native content.” (What a devious description THAT is! Or as Tom Smith would snort, “Could you be a little more vague?”)

Trump re-purposed a fake news clip from a fake wrestling match shot years ago…it’s not just fake, it’s meta-fake. It’s also very funny.

Now we have CNN reporting Russian hacking stories based on no evidence; the New York Times denying its own headlines to support a new narrative. Donald Trump’s efforts to blow up this entire ossified media infrastructure are to be supported and applauded; he is providing a giant service to everyone. At the very least he’s delivering a great wake-up call. At the best, he is yanking up the standards of serious journalism in North America.

The video tweet of him wrestling CNN to the ground – a fake fight scenario making fun of a fake news station at a fake boxing match with a fake promoter and a fake executive – is hilarious and brilliant.

Or as Tom Smith might say, “Look at all those viewers hypnotized by media.”

He was “woke” at age 13. We all should be by now.

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