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Former New York Times editor says media has learned nothing in covering Trump voters – National Observer



Did the mainstream media help get Donald Trump elected in 2016? And will they help him again this year?

Canada’s National Observer discussed what’s happening with the American media with Jill Abramson, 66, the first woman executive editor of the New York Times (2011-14) and author of a well-received book on the media industry, Merchants of Truth, published last year.

Abramson has had a storied career at the highest levels of mainstream journalism. Educated at Harvard, and after stints at American Lawyer magazine and at the Wall Street Journal, Abramson joined the New York Times in 1997. She soon became the paper’s Washington bureau chief, and was eventually promoted to executive editor — the first woman to hold that post in the 160-year history of the Times. In 2012, Abramson was ranked fifth on the Forbes list of most powerful women. Today, she is a senior lecturer at Harvard University.

This interview has been edited for length.

Q: Every day with Trump, there seems to be new revelations, the latest being with Bob Woodword’s book Rage. In regards to affecting the election, do these revelations have any impact?

A: Not much, I don’t think there are that many undecided voters left that any one of these revelations would persuade, “Oh, now I see the light. I’m going to vote against President Trump.”

Maybe it’s an aggregate that it becomes so smelly altogether that a segment of voters who would consider voting for Trump won’t. But I think they merge into each other and that the scandals one after the other become like tweets – here today and gone tomorrow.

Q: If you go back to the 2016 election, one of the things from the post-mortems was the media was surprised there was a large portion of the population that clearly responded to Trump.

A: At the New York Times, (executive editor) Dean Baquet and (publisher) Arthur Sulzberger Jr., published that letter to readers admitting that, saying, “We’ll make all these new efforts to cover the people who constituted this wave of angry white voters that elected Trump.” And I don’t want to single out the New York Times, but I don’t think that the news media has really fulfilled that promise. I don’t feel I have a better intellectual understanding of Trump voters than I did in 2016.

Q: Would you agree that support for Trump came from blue-collar workers impacted by globalization and the impact of deindustrialisation?

A: Right, and hatred of elites.

“It used to be you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. But now it is you are entitled to your own facts. It’s terrible. And corrosive to democracy.” @JillAbramson

Q: And has their perception of the media changed?

A: No, journalists and the establishment news organizations like the Washington Post and New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS News, no, they’re still perceived as part of the elite — that part of the country which they still despise.

Q: And so nothing in that respect has changed in the past four years, that’s what you’re saying?

A: No, I don’t think much has changed.

Mainstream media overlooks power and influence of Fox News

Q: What about in regards to the impact of Fox, because the network seems to be the propaganda arm of Trump and the Republican Party.

A: It’s Trump’s Pravda.

Q: Again, do we really appreciate the impact of Fox in the United States as a force?

A: I don’t think so. Yesterday I had a long drive from New York back to Boston, and I actually listened to Fox News on the radio and listened to Sean Hannity’s program because I want to know what Trump voters are being told about voter fraud, which is, you know, something that’s been made up. But it really was eye-opening to listen to his show and (hear) about the supposed 1,000 cases of voter fraud that the Heritage Foundation documented. I mean, it sounds very persuasive if you’re a listener and think Fox News is a purveyor of the truth.

But I don’t think most political reporters at the places I previously named, I don’t think they spend any time listening to Fox radio or right-wing talk radio — which may be more influential than Fox News channel on TV. I don’t think they listen to it, they don’t know what’s being said. They’re pretty out of touch.

Q: In regards to the media at this time, do you feel it has any real influence on how people vote or how they think?

A: Well, I guess that tracks back to what is the point of journalism? What is the mission of journalism? And the mission is to provide reliable, important information to the public, which should help them make decisions like how to vote.

And I think that journalism in many ways still fulfils that mission, but because of technological change and the bitter partisanship that has riven the country — the information they get is very different and polarized.

And so on both the left and the right, you have a situation of the news media providing information to an audience that already thinks in line with the kinds of, in the case of liberals, the kinds of critical stories that have been investigations on Trump, or on the right, the defenders of him, like Fox.

Q: If you go back 30 or 40 years, we had a handful of networks, you didn’t have the internet, you had large, rich newspapers in most metropolitan areas that tended to be mostly centrist. How would you describe the media landscape today?

A: I would describe the landscape as much more polarized, and this is because there’s never been a president like Donald Trump. He defies all of the norms of both human and political decency, and that has meant that the formerly centrist establishment media has — I think by force of the rank evils of this administration — been forced to cover him and the administration in ways that would strike (former New York Times executive editor) Abe Rosenthal, if he came back to life, as being very slanted and opinionated.

Q: And this raises the issue of what’s happened to truth, what’s happened to a verifiable fact now?

A: It used to be you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. But now it is you are entitled to your own facts. It’s terrible. And corrosive to democracy.

Public trust in media is low

Q: But would you say that partially the reason people are now questioning what is a fact is that the mainstream media has had its own scandals over the last 20 years about facts?

A: I don’t think it’s the scandals. The important thing here is the perception of political bias, I really do. And the facts I could cite to back that up are the recent Gallup/Knight study that shows, again, the erosion of trust in news media. The percentage is like 80-something per cent of the public believe the news media is biased, and that number has really grown.

And I think that’s the major contributor.

I’m not discounting the scandals. That may be a factor, but I think the perception of bias is the driver to why public trust has been going down.

Q: But does the bias stem from the fact that the media is corporate-owned, funded by advertisers, and reflects a narrow ideological perspective itself?

A: Yes, I do think concentrated ownership, the fact that local newspapers in the U.S. have died at such an alarming way, and they tended to be the most trusted sources for the news. So that the concentration of ownership and big media companies has contributed to the erosion of trust, for sure.

Q: The internet has had multiple effects, one of which was to undermine the economic foundations of the legacy media. But it’s also, as you wrote in your book Merchants of Truth, introduced new forms of media like VICE, Buzzfeed, Vox, etc. How good a job is the new digital media doing?

A: It figures in because the two places I wrote about, Buzzfeed and VICE, are doing some really good political investigative pieces and are producing some worthwhile journalism. It’s just they don’t have the kinds of newsrooms and size or experience to cover the political landscape as broadly and deeply as a place like the New York Times can. So their coverage is episodically good, but not comprehensively good.

Q: And they are also having problems sustaining themselves.

A: Yes, their economic model is digital advertising, which is crumbling away and not worth all that much.

New digital media is less impactful

Q: In regards to the new digital media, is it less impactful than, say, the old days of the legacy media?

A: It’s less impactful. I’m not sure it matters whether it’s new media, old media, but the atomization of how news is delivered — there are so many different new sites on the web means that the impact of any one place is lessened. And then the technology has disaggregated the news so that it exists in individual stories spread on social media rather than by organizations and by acquired credibility of these organizations.

Q: In respect to the election coverage today, how would you characterize it?

A: I think, unfortunately, it’s been inhibited by COVID-19 in many ways because it’s much harder now to get in touch with and get the real reflections of voters, which is important in scandal-saturated and controversy-saturated news. Real voters can be ignored except for their cameo appearances on televised town halls and the like.

I wish I felt the coverage was a truer reflection of the people in the country, and I don’t once again.

Q: How good a job has the media done covering the issue of race in the United States? Has it not been a stellar subject for the media, or does it really vary?

A: It varies. I would say one of the main issues that was under covered during my career in journalism is the still incredible wealth gap between Blacks and whites in the United States.

That the spotlight on that issue was episodic and the lights would turn on when there were big controversies and tragedies like the George Floyd murder or the Rodney King beating — then you’d see more stories about that aspect of race in America. But everything does eventually rest on economics and economic well-being, and that disparity is as bad as it was in the 1950s.

Q: The other aspect of Trump is his demonization of the press …

A: And I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a journalist killed, quite frankly.

Q: Well, it’s early days yet. Is that just him or does he touch into a vein of hostility towards the media that is very prevalent?

A: Well, he definitely taps into the distrust, growing distrust, that we were discussing earlier. But again, it’s an effort on his part to undermine democracy itself, and I’m not going to give you a long turgid lecture on the First Amendment, but the press was the very institution the founders of the country trusted to keep over-centralized authority in check.

And what Trump wants is over-centralized authority, and so he is systematically undermining the role and legitimacy of the press to carry out its long spelled-out role in American democracy.

Q: In regards to the state of the occupation of journalism, how would you characterize it in 2020?

A: The state of the profession, if you’re looking at the big concentrated companies that are left, like the New York Times, has never been stronger. They have so many more subscribers now than when I was executive editor, with all of the digital subscribers.

So they’re reaching a bigger readership than ever, they’re economically much better off than when I was there. So the survivors are fitter than they were, but the small local and regional parts of the press that are closest to the people are in terrible shape.

Trump has done wonders for media’s bottom line

Q: The irony is that Trump has been fantastic for the media.

A: Yes, it’s the Trump bump. He’s great for business.

I don’t think that that is incidental to the fact that if you go on any (web) page of any major news organization there are like a dozen or more different Trump stories. Like leading stories. They get big audiences and those audiences mean more money.

Q: Is it a bit of a myth about America, the idea of a free press and democracy going hand in hand? Because you have a political system that has revealed itself to be terribly dysfunctional in terms of dealing with the problems American face.

A: Which seems despotic rather than democratic.

Q: Increasingly oligarchic and increasingly influenced by the vast sums of money flowing into the system. So is the American media doing a good job of keeping what’s left of democracy going — or is it actually part of the problem?

A: No, I think it’s part of the solution and without it, we would be in very desperate shape.

Q: The fact that someone like Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, bought the Washington Post, even though the Post has done very well under him, does that sort of reality concern you?

A: It depends. Having Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post is a lot better than the late period under the (former owners) Grahams when the Post was in desperate financial shape. So I’d rather have the Washington Post with more reporters than not.

Q: But now we have a situation where some of the most prominent media outlets are owned by the super rich?

A: In some ways, they were always owned by those people. It’s just the level of billionaire is different now and the cost structure of these places is different.

Q: It’s ironic that when wealth inequality is one of the burning issues of our times that some of the biggest media are owned by the richest people in the world.

A: Yeah, but it’s better than if they were struggling to stay in business.

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Nunavut politicians vote to remove minister from cabinet over social media post – Lethbridge News Now



Before casting their ballots, some members made statements on the motion.

“It is up to us, everyone in this room, to show our commitment, to stand up against racism and gender violence. Now is that time,” Savikataaq told the assembly.

“Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. Women’s rights are human rights.”

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone, who seconded the motion, thanked Savikataaq for his “swift action” to remove Netser.

“Freedom of expression does not equal freedom from consequence. The fact that the minister is still defending his position leads me to believe that there is no remorse,” Lightstone said.

In his statement, Netser apologized to the Black community but said his comments were not based on racism or gender violence.

“My reference to ‘all lives matter’ was certainly not stated in that context. And I would not have chosen these words if I knew they could be misconstrued as attempting to negate the struggles of my Black brothers and sisters,” Netser said.

Netser also said the Facebook post was an example of free speech.

“I understand that all lives cannot matter, if Black lives don’t matter. But my post on social media was meant to bring light to those without voices, the unborn,” he said.

“I did not make those statements in the house and I did not make them as a member of the executive council, but as an Inuk that values life.”

Netser also read a letter of support into the record from a friend, which questions whether people who criticize the government will be “picked up and shipped into the dark of the night to one of the many new internment camps across Canada.”

The letter also claims the federal government pays Canadian news media and mind control is imposed on people who speak out against the government.

Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq told the assembly he would not support the motion to oust Netser because “we do have an expression of freedom” in Canada.

“We have to think about our children and the future of our children. We have to deeply reflect on our society’s values into the future,” Qirngnuq said

Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak told the assembly Netser’s comments were concerning. And politicians can’t say whatever they want, if their words have a negative impacts on people.

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Savikataaq said the decision to remove Netser was not easy but had to be made.

Because Nunavut has a consensus-style government, only a full caucus can remove cabinet members.

Netser, who represents Coral Harbour and Naujaat, is to stay on as an MLA.

A leadership forum is expected to take place next week to select Netser’s replacement in cabinet.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian press News Fellowship

Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press

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Britain's Prince Charles wrote to support historic Australian PM sacking: media –



SYDNEY (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles sent a hand-written letter of support to Australia’s governor general in 1976, backing his controversial sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, local media reported on Saturday.

The letter, published on Saturday by The Australian newspaper, is dated four months after Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Australia, John Kerr, took the unprecedented step to dismiss Whitlam without first warning the palace or the prime minister.

“Please don’t lose heart,” the heir to the British throne wrote in the hand-written letter to Kerr on Mar. 27.

“What you did last year was right and the courageous thing to do — and most Australians seemed to endorse your decision when it came to the point.”

The letter was revealed in an extract of a book “The Truth of the Palace Letters: Deceit, Ambush and Dismissal in 1975” by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, due to be published next month.

Whitlam’s firing remains one of the country’s most polarising political events because it represented an unmatched level of intervention by the Commonwealth.

Historians say the country was never told the full story behind Whitlam’s removal during a political deadlock over the Budget and in 2016, one historian sued Australia’s National Archives for access to letters between Kerr and the Queen.

In July, the 211 so-called “palace letters” were published, pulling the veil from one of the great mysteries of Australian politics, and re-igniting a conversation about whether the country should cut ties with Britain and become a republic.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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Grieving Paradise mother finds strength by writing social media blog –




Pam Myles’ home looks as inviting as her greeting when she answers the door.

“Come in,” she says, with a warm smile.

“Don’t mind the mess,” she adds, as she walks into her living room, where a baby Exersaucer and a handful of toys rest on top of a section of colourful children’s foam floor tiles.

Other than the faint lull from the television, there’s little sound in the house as her six-month-old son, Lukas, naps in his room at the other end of the house.

“This is the time of day that’s hardest for me,” she said.

“It’s the daytime when it’s quiet.”

Normally, there would be an energetic young boy running around, likely wearing nothing but underwear, singing “Wheels on the Bus,” and climbing on a chair insisting that he help his mother wash dishes or cook supper, anxious to get a butter knife to cut up mushrooms.

“Noah was a force,” Myles said, her face lighting up. “He was busy — super, super busy. I can’t exaggerate enough how busy he was. He was bright and curious.

“And loud,” she added, laughing.

She would give anything to hear those sounds again, but they’ve been silenced forever.

Noah Saja. - Rosie Mullaley
Noah Zaja. – Contributed photo

On the morning of July 18, Myles’ four-year-old son, Noah, was killed in a tragic accident when he slipped out of the house, unknown to his mother, and got too close to a closing tow-long dump trailer in front of their Paradise home.

Dealing with such a heartbreaking loss has been painfully difficult for Myles and her family, including her fiancé and Noah’s father, Marko, and daughter Avery, who celebrated her 11th birthday the day before Noah died.

“We’re doing OK,” Myles said, shrugging her shoulders and nodding her head. “OK is about as good as we can expect.

“There are no really great days, but there are lots of great things in every day.”

Not an hour goes by when she doesn’t think of Noah, and she will never erase memories of the morning he died. He had been in and out of the house, running from the playhouse in the back garden to the front garden of the house, which is nestled at the end of a quiet road in a Paradise subdivision.

When it got chilly, Myles grabbed Noah’s favourite sweater — a front zip-up, a gift from a family friend, and called him inside.

“I was putting it on him and I remember holding his face and saying to him, ‘You’re a good boy, Noah.’ That wasn’t uncommon. I told him all the time, but for some reason, in that moment, I felt the need to hold his face.

“I remember his response wasn’t like, ‘Oh, thank you.’ It was, ‘Yes, I am a good boy,’” she said, laughing.

An hour later he was gone.

“It was just so sudden,” she said. “He was just outside playing and had just been inside with us.”

“Noah Bear,” as she fondly referred to him, may not be running in and out of the house anymore, but his presence is everywhere in the home. Multiple photos of him, with his siblings, parents and friends, are placed on the walls, fireplace and side tables, his smiling face still lighting up each room.

It gives the family comfort and serves as a way of helping Lukas know his big brother, she said.

“That’s important to us,” Myles said, tearing up. “Noah was so excited about him and adored him. We plan to show Lukas (photos) and make sure he knows how special he was to Noah.”

She’s glad now she took so many pictures — her last order to Costco had 1,600 photos — and hundreds of videos of Noah since he was born.

Myles has remained fairly private since Noah’s death, but three months later feels comfortable enough to speak publicly about her experience.

Through tears, smiles and laughter, she explained that sharing her thoughts and feelings not only helps her express herself, but also helps others who have experienced similar tragedies.

Myles has started a Facebook blog, “Myles in my Shoes,” which she recently created after receiving so much response on her personal Facebook page.

In her first blog post last week, she wrote, “A popular Chinese proverb states that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I suppose this is mine. At least in such a public forum.”

She introduces herself in the blog as, “A mom of three: Avery, Noah and Lukas. I am the mother of two children I get to hold in my arms and one child I hold in my heart.”

“I’m not a writer,” said Myles, adding that her training as a child- and youth-care instructor at Eastern Academy and youth counsellor at the Janeway Children’s Hospital was helpful in managing her grief.

“It’s never something I felt I was particularly skilled at,” she says of writing.

As her eyes welled with tears, she paused before continuing. “But Noah’s life had so much meaning to us and I really wanted to try to also find some meaning in his loss.”

What she found was an overwhelming response from hundreds of people, many of whom wrote to tell her about their loss, the guilt they felt and the difficulty they felt moving on in life.

“It’s validating to me to know that other people also experience that, too.

“And they felt there was something in my message that made them feel less alone.”

Helping others has helped her heal, she said.

“Writing is helping me to piece my heart and life back together and I hope it brings some comfort to another,” she wrote.

It was also a way of saying thank you to the people across the province and country who contacted them and helped them the last three months, whether it was through fundraisers, delivered meals, or messages and well wishes.

“Somewhere in the midst of my deep pain and sorrow and darkness there was light,” she wrote in the blog.

“While I had every reason in the world to want the world to stop … to lay in my bed and lay in my grief … my two beautiful children, Marko, my friends and family and the community around us reminded me of my many reasons to be grateful — grateful for what I have, grateful for what I’ve gained and, mostly, grateful for the chance to have ever been and to be Noah’s mom.”

The community’s support is evident in the blue hearts that adorn many neighbours’ properties.

On the pavement in front of the family’s house, there’s a brightly painted smiley-faced sun and rainbow, with the words, “We love you,” care of the neighbours’ kids, Dylan and Abby.

It’s been comforting as they deal with the heartache.

In their lovely landscaped front garden, there are spots to honour Noah, from the painted rocks to a mini-memorial that includes the scooter he rode and his tiny crocks.

“Oh, he loved those crocks,” Myles said, smiling.

Noah’s grandmother, Barb Wagstaff, said the happy memories are what keeps the family going.

She remembers the pitter patter of his tiny feet going up the stairs to see his poppy, Larry Myles, the paintings for Mother’s Day and throwing grass in the pond “to feed the fish” at their cabin on Hodgewater Line. They’re memories she will cherish forever.

“There are reminders of him everywhere, like when I open the cupboard and see his favourite cereal,” Wagstaff said.

“The pain hits you in waves all the time. … I think about what he would be doing if he was here. … We value the time we had with him. He was such a blessing.”

She said she and Myles’ father feel mostly for her daughter, Marko and the children.

“As parents, you want to fix things (for your children), but we can’t fix it for her,” she said.

But Wagstaff said she admires her daughter for her strength and courage to express her feelings publicly.

“She’s been an inspiration to all of us,” Wagstaff said.

It’s been a difficult three months and it will be for many more to come as Myles deals with firsts without him and the challenges of figuring out what to say when asked how many children she has.

But for Myles, it’s her two remaining children who will get her through this the most.

“I remember Marko saying to me, no matter what happens, Lukas and Avery deserve to have the same parents they had (before Noah died),” she said.

“Not to say we won’t have time for sadness and grief, but that they deserved for us to pick up, to do things they were accustomed to. That was going to be really important.

“So, with that in mind, we get up every day and do what we need to do to be the best parents we can be for the kids.”

And in the quiet of her days, it’s that which has become loud and clear.

Rosie Mullaley is the human interest reporter for The Telegram

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