Overpromised. Under Delivered: The Trudeau and WaPo Lament
Overpromise. Under deliver.
In pubic life it’s wise to observe this retail maxim for managing expectations. Had several notable figures and media outlets done so in the past few weeks, one might not be on the verge of losing his government, another its prominence as a media giant.
Justin Trudeau was a fountain of promises when he sought to transform the modern Liberal Party by winning the prime ministership in 2015. With few substantive policies to offer the public, Trudeau instead promised nothing less than a social revolution based on the environment, feminism, indigenous outreach, intersectionality and a positive outlook.
In particular he promoted a number of people to prominent posts in government based primarily on their gender or ethnicity. Cloaked in virtue, bathed in bromides, he was Canada’s first 21st century politician. He would— and did— dismiss members who failed his virtue test.
Those standards were pitched at the highest levels. It would take most public figures an Olympian effort to clear the bar.
The problem with Trudeau’s writing a cheque with his mouth was the requirement that he back up his pretensions with his butt. This has proven elusive. First, his membership in Feminism.3® suffered when a reporter in B.C. accused him of having laid roaming hands on her in a public meeting. Trudeau skated with his loyalists, declaring the woman had simply seen the whole thing differently.
But now the catastrophe of the Jody Wilson-Raybould demotion/ firing has demolished even that shred of Trudeau’s credibility. Unsatisfied with her fealty, Mr. Sensitivity ran her out of the cabinet and left her on the outside, spraying invective from outside the room. Jane Philpott’s piling on this week has only made the hypocrisy worse.
Trudeau is either unable or unwilling to pay the price required to be seen as a modern feminist or indigenous supporter. JWR’s icy gaze as she defenestrated Trudeau in her committee testimony has forever stamped “void” on Trudeau’s passport to progressive membership.
Had he pitched his perfection a couple of notches lower Trudeau might now be able to scrape over the purgatory in which he now finds himself. But when you’ve fired subordinates for less than what has happened in the JWR scandal you’ve left no room for equivocation.
It might have served Trudeau to observe the moral gymnastics of his rival, Donald Trump. In the field of overpromise/ under deliver the U.S. president has taken the opposite approach to Trudeau in virtue signalling.
While he has tossed out any number of policy positions on The Wall, tax cuts and the military Trump never made— understatement alert— any pretensions to model citizenship. From the covert Access Hollywood tapes during the 2016 election to his comments on the suitability of immigrants, Trump consistently set a bar that could be surmounted by anyone who could fog a mirror.
As Trump Derangement buddies have assailed his behaviour, Trump has none of the self-imposed hurdles Trudeau gave himself. While Michael Cohen describes hush agreements with strippers and Playboy models, none of it has the impact that JWR’s accusations have packed for Trudeau. Been there. Heard that.
The overpromise/ under-deliver trap has also swallowed Trump’s enemies in the mainstream media. Time and again they’ve pitched “bombshell” stories that have rebounded on them. Were this The National Enquirer, there would be no blood/ no foul. Little is expected.
But when you’re the Washington Post, advertising that Truth Dies In Darkness, landings will not be soft. Consumed with defeating Trump on every level WaPo has abandoned the caution and sobriety of the old media empires, preferring instead to go full tabloid with lurid tales.
The price of this comes in two ways. Finance and integrity are about to get a beating at WaPo over its coverage of the Covington, Kentucky, students and their run-in with political hucksters at the Lincoln Monument. In its haste to portray Trump’s America as a hell hole, WaPo created a tale of a teenager wearing a MAGA hat mocking natives and black Americans. (https://goo.gl/s8STGy)
WaPo’s version of the facts caught fire with the TDS bunch. The teenager was deluged with death threats, demands he be punched in the face, promises to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. It was heaven-sent for the MSNBC crew.
It was also patently untrue. Last week, faced with a $250-million lawsuit from the young man’s family, WaPo allowed that perhaps they might have been a little more careful with the facts. Cloaked in gobbledygook, the editors statement admitted a total failure to report fairly or accurately.
Again, were this the National Enquirer, WaPo might have escaped with a shrug of the shoulders. But having set themselves up as moral arbiters in the war against dread Trump, the Covington come-down is nothing less than a concession that WaPo has lost the right to judge fairly. They’re now a partisan rag, Pravda for progressive Americans that puts doctrine ahead of truth.
WaPo is not the only media source being sued for this libel. And it all might have been avoided by a little humility. What’s that saying about sinning in haste but repenting at leisure?
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of his website Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available.