How Toronto’s Papers Covered President Trump’s Early Days
From NAFTA to "alternative facts," it's all Trump, all the time.
In Front Page Challenge, Torontoist analyzes the best and worst of Toronto’s major dailies.
In these early days of the new Trump administration, it appears there will be a showdown between the Oval Office and the press to win the hearts and minds of the public. White House spokespeople responded angrily to the huge turnout at last weekend’s protests contrasted with the comparatively thin attendance at Donald Trump’s inauguration, citing “alternative facts” that in fact, Trump’s inauguration had the biggest audience in history. It’s interesting to see Toronto’s papers falling into distinct editorial camps on the issue, made more visible today by Trump’s stated plans to exit the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement—two decisions that directly affect Canada.
The Globe and Mail
The Globe leads with the TPP and NAFTA news, pairing it with a photo of Trump meeting with business leaders as plans are drawn up to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau to reopen the free trade deal. One of Trump’s emissaries has indicated Canada has no need to be “enormously worried” about the talks. The Globe provides extensive coverage of what a revamped trade deal would look like. On Page One, at least, the Globe is not grappling with Team Trump’s efforts to discredit the protest movement. Instead, the newspaper offers a sober article about how after this weekend’s historic women’s marches, the toughest step will be harnessing that power to actually change the course of history.
The Post‘s central image this morning is pleasing to the eye but hard to interpret: are they trying to say that when when life doesn’t give you lemons (because Trump won’t allow Argentina to export them to the U.S.), that it becomes harder for Canada to import lemonade? The Post interprets the Trump NAFTA plan as leading to a possible bilateral arrangement between our two countries that may exclude Mexico—making it harder for them to pay for the wall. John Ivison sees this potential glass of bitter, unsweetened lemonade as half full, taking Pollyanna-ish solace in the fact that Trump’s economic advisor says the administration has an “unusually positive view” of Canada ahead of the renegotiations. At least Andrew Coyne seems a bit worried about Trump’s apparent psychological warfare against “the truth” that seems to be a recurring theme carried over from his successful campaign into his presidency. The Post also seems to be sending a message out to Metro this morning that this year’s Toronto Front Page Challenge championship is going to be hard-fought by putting a cute animal on the front page—a move right out of the Metro playbook.
The Star offers all things to all people this morning, thanking their readers for being a friend by paying tribute to the classic TV series The Golden Girls with a feel-good story about four retirement-age ladies in Port Perry who bought a house together. But it is notable that of the city’s papers, only the Star is directly concerned with the fact that Trump’s early days have given off clear anti-democracy signals that pose a real threat to a free press and an informed public. Reporter Daniel Dale speaks to investigative journalists from Venezuela and Turkey who fought to report fairly on their respective governments, facing media oppression as they pushed against the state’s attempts to create a “parallel reality.” According to Dale’s story, these reporters are alarmed to see similar tactics playing out in Trump’s America.
Metro continues to maintain solidarity with those inspired by the movement against Trumpism. This morning, they continue to advocate for civic activism with Rosemary Westwood‘s advice on how to keep the momentum of this weekend’s demonstrations going, and a separate column encourages people inspired by the protests to run for office if they want to effect real change. Their coverage of the NAFTA renegotiations is more foreboding than other papers, especially as it concerns American tech companies whose planned expansions to Toronto may change in a protectionist American trade environment. The paper also profiles a Toronto professor who is working to revitalize the Mohawk language Kanien’kéha, which was nearly extinguished through residential schools.
The Sun is hiding in a haze of smoke this morning, what with the Leafs “burning” the Calgary Flames (get it) last night. The paper also has coverage of an ongoing crime problem in the city, with a twist: armed bandits have been targeting several of Toronto’s pot dispensaries, with many of these attacks going unreported (how do you report to the police that your illegal operation was robbed?). The Sun was wise to keep Mark Bonokoski’s Trudeau-bashing story off the front page today, with the mega-problematic headline “Mixed Trump trade messages means don’t drop the soap” inadvertently reminding everyone of the multiple allegations of sexual assault against Trump. The Sun intends to make fun of Justin Trudeau for being “bent over with his head stuck in the oilsands” in the face of America’s plan to renegotiate our trade agreements: “If this makes Canada ‘well positioned,’ it begs the question of well-positioned for what? Advice to Trudeau? Don’t drop the soap.” Ha ha, prison rape jokes!
This week’s winner: The Toronto Star wins this week for being the only Toronto paper to feature an in-depth article on their front page that rings the alarm over Trump’s anti-democracy tactics in the first days of taking office. It’s one thing for a newspaper to debate the pros and cons of organized resistance to the actions of a state, but when the state works to reframe reality or paint any journalism they don’t agree with as untrustworthy, this should be a huge cause for concern to a free press—let alone the public. The Star reflects this threat better than the other papers do. This will look very good in the history books as far as our jury is concerned.
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