The media is playing right into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hands once again.
On Thursday the PM arrived in New York City a day early in advance of signing the Paris climate-change agreement.
The itinerary for Thursday directed media attention to how in the afternoon the PM “will train at Gleason’s Gym” – a popular boxing haunt in Brooklyn.
Maybe it’s a good chance to ask Trudeau some questions about what the climate deal means for Canada, right?
After all, if we actually try hard to accomplish the targets the agreement commits us to, it would have negative impacts for the economy and raise consumer prices for all Canadians, as my colleague Lorrie Goldstein has detailed in recent columns.
Little problem. The boxing invite is a “photo opportunity only.” So the PMO is basically telling the press to cross the bridge to the trendy Dumbo neighbourhood just to take a fawning pic of Trudeau and nothing more. Yeah, right. Canada’s fourth estate has too much self-respect to fall for that old trick. Right? Sadly, wrong.
They’re eating it up. In the Canadian Press tee-up piece that many outlets used, a third of the word count was devoted to the boxing foray. In the Maclean’s version, they even ran a stock photo of Trudeau in the ring.
Major climate deal that impacts your life? Meh. But PM Selfie in his gym gear? Now we’re talking!
If Stephen Harper had sent out a release about how he was going to a petting zoo on the day he was announcing some major military initiative, it would be ignored, laughed at or there’d be outrage over such a cynical attempt to manipulate the media.
Not for Trudeau. The rules are different for him. He sends out the orders, the media steps in line.
But the time to tell these soft stories is on the sleepiest of slow news days. Not a big occasion like this.
Only last week did the press fawn over Trudeau’s comments on quantum computing … after they’d been instructed to tee up the question for him. You’d think they would have learned their lesson.