Musings —12.16.2013 10:42 PM—
Justin Trudeau won’t agree to an interview.
With Sun News, that is.
He dismisses queries from Sun Media reporters on the Hill, even super nice guys like David Akin. He routinely dismisses questions from Sun Media reporters.
And, last week, we asked him if he’d do one of those friendly year-end interviews with a Liberal-friendly audience — that is, Yours Truly — but he dismissed the idea.
Now, we may be the biggest newspaper chain in the country, with an audience in many of the places where the Liberal leader needs to be heard. We may be able to get to every other Liberal leader you can think of, including my former boss, Jean Chretien. But Justin Trudeau isn’t interested in talking to Sun News.
On the one hand, it’s easy to understand why.
Some Sun News folks have been completely over the top about Trudeau, calling him names and whatnot. If he feels that he sometimes doesn’t get a fair shake from Sun News, he’s entitled.
On the other hand, it strikes Yours Truly as a pretty dumb media strategy. For example, Rob Ford famously stopped talking to the Toronto Star because it published a story about his conduct as a football coach. Didn’t exactly work out for Mayor Crackhead, did it? Nope.
Since Justin Trudeau has decided not to ever speak to Sun News, we are left to imagining what a Justin Trudeau interview would be like.
If I’d been given the opportunity, this is the one thing I wanted to speak to him about — him, and how he speaks.
In a year-end interview he gave to The Canadian Press, Trudeau was asked about his verbal missteps — saying he admired China’s “dictatorship,” saying the Boston Marathon bombers felt “completely excluded” from society, and so on. He gave an answer that fascinated Yours Truly: He acknowledged his mistakes. And he said, in effect, get ready for more flubs.
“Even though every now and then I give a little extra fodder to my opponents to try and go after me, ultimately I’m right in trusting Canadians, that they will understand that my focus is entirely on trying to serve them in the best and the realest way that I possibly can.”
(Nota bene: “Realest” is not a word, although Tupac Shakur used it. It means being truthful.)
This answer was clever, in two ways.
One, it’s a candid and honest admission by Justin Trudeau about one of Justin Trudeau’s shortcomings, for which he deserves credit. Or, two, it’s a bit of pre-conditioning — some inoculation — against future verbal gaffes. Which is astute, and for which he also deserves credit.
Either way, there’s no downside — and a fair amount of upside — to saying such a thing. He wins either way.
But here’s the problem. Here’s the question I would have asked him, had he given me the chance: “Given that your opponents, on the right and left, clearly want to depict you as lacking judgment and lacking experience — given that they want to persuade voters that you’re a rakishly handsome man-child — isn’t it simply a better idea to, you know, stop making verbal gaffes?”
That’s the question I would’ve asked Justin Trudeau, if he had agreed to an interview. So perhaps no one is going to ask him that in year-end interviews.
Canadian voters, however, one day will.
And voters are not so easily dismissed.