It's troubling to see the crescendo of “fake news” chants U.S. President Donald Trump has been directing towards the mainstream media south of the border, to the point of whipping his supporters into a frenzy that leaves journalists actually fearing for their safety, is spilling over into our country.
Here in Ontario, for instance, a Canadian Press story earlier this week reported on the combative tone the new Progressive Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford has struck with journalists covering Queen's Park, including the use of obstructive tactics like drowning out reporters' questions with spontaneous applause by political staffers and others on the government payroll during news conferences.
And yes, Community Safety minister Lisa MacLeod reportedly referred to media accounts of some of her comments as “fake news” inside the legislature.
The relationship between government and the media is adversarial in nature, with many arguing a free press is essential to democracy by keeping readers/viewers informed about the issues of the day in an impartial manner while also acting as a check on any potential abuse of power.
There's also no question journalists can—and do—make mistakes in their coverage, which any respected news outlet would quickly clarify or correct in a public manner. But that doesn't give any government or politician, at any level, the leeway to cry “fake news” just because they don't like how their message is being covered.
On the bright side, our new MPP, Greg Rickford, has invited local media in the Kenora-Rainy River riding, including the Fort Frances Times, to hold a “scrum call” with him on perhaps a weekly basis as an opportunity to ask questions regarding his three ministerial portfolios.
The Times welcomes this chance to pursue the professional relationship between our local representative and the media that the public expects and deserves.
Equally important, it's high time the “fake news” mantra that threatens the integrity and importance of a free press is put to rest once and for all.