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Monday, December 19, 2016

Is manipulation of the media by politicians the fault of the media themselves

Here’s how Canadian news media created a ‘Trump of the North’

Donald Trump’s election has left political pundits, data journalists and political scientists scrambling to explain what made his victory possible. Particularly puzzling is Trump’s triumph in the Republican primaries despite widespread opposition by the party establishment.
Some believe Trump prevailed because of a fragmented Republican field that left the party elite unable to decide on a nominee during the invisible primary. Trump capitalized on establishment disarray by mastering earned media. He dominated news cycle after news cycle, which allowed him to get his message out to his supporters for free, while his opponents had to rely on expensive television ads. This allowed Trump to rise above the pack.
If this is the case, Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party may have been possible only because his unique combination of wealth, celebrity and talent for controversy that allowed him to hijack media coverage of the race.
It’s not so hard to manipulate the news media
But is manipulating the news media really so hard to do? Maybe not. My analysis shows that the Canadian news media is busy creating its very own version of Donald Trump. Her name is Kellie Leitch.
After running the country for almost 10 years, Canada’s Conservative Party was defeated in the 2015 federal election. As a result, its leadership is currently up for grabs, in a race that began unofficially in April and will be decided on May 28, 2017. One candidate has already withdrawn, leaving 14 in the race. More may enter in the coming weeks.
In the campaign’s early stages, Peter Mackay and Jason Kenney, senior ministers in the former Conservative government, were considered the front-runners. Both, however, declined to run. Former industry minister and self-described libertarian Maxime Bernier stepped into the void. He worked to dominate the campaign with a string of policy announcements that burnished his free-market credentials and social liberalism.
Enter Leitch. She is a former pediatric surgeon and minister of labor and status of women, best known for announcing the Conservative’s “barbaric cultural practices hotline” proposal during the 2015 federal election. The policy was widely panned for being a brazen attempt at dog-whistle politics designed, in part, to bolster support for her party at the expense of the center-left New Democratic Party in Quebec.
As a result, she offered a tearful apology for the policy in the summer. Although Leitch was the first to enter the race in April, she failed to gain traction and badly trailed other contenders in opinion polls.
Then, at the beginning of September, Leitch proposed screening immigrants and visitors for “anti-Canadian values.” She turned even more sharply toward populism by railing against “elites” in the media and the Conservative Partyand gained more media attention by hailing Donald Trump’s victory, saying that it was “an exciting message that needs to be delivered in Canada as well.” Leitch is now a front-runner in the leadership race, according to opinion polls— a development that occurred in as little as two weeks after her values screening proposal was introduced.
Why? Because she came to dominate the news media.

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