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My conversation with a Canadian MAGA man

I knew I shouldn’t make eye contact.

But I did.

I spotted the red hat across the grass boulevard in front of CN Centre at the anti-mask/freedom rally a couple of weeks ago. I was curious as to whether it was a MAGA hat so I was staring at the logo. Hard to avoid eye contact, I know, but I was trying.

It wasn’t a MAGA hat, but it was the same red and it read: Make Canada Great Again.

“Are you the real media or the fake media?” he asked … half joking, half not … as soon as we made eye contact.

There was no escape. Even though it was a Saturday afternoon and I was dressed in shorts, he made me out for media right away. Maybe I should be flattered that I stuck out like a sore thumb at the rally, however it was probably the big camera slung around my neck that did it.

As to what constitutes real or fake media, I’m not quite sure what the difference is other than, I suspect, to him real media was that which exclusively reports his point of view and fake media is everyone else.

I didn’t ask.

Instead I asked him why he was immediately antagonistic towards me. He paused and took a different tack, asking why I don’t have a vest with MEDIA, in big letters, on it. I laughed and told him this is Prince George, not a war zone. We don’t need flak jackets (most of us have jackets and/or shirts with unobtrusive but visible logos). Besides, I said, in the anti-masker/freedom rally crowd, that a media flak jacket would simply put a target on my back and I wasn’t there to be a target.

He gave me that one. But he was very, very distrustful of anything media. Donald Trump opened his eyes on that one, he said, but softened a bit when I told him I was completely independent.

I agreed that the media isn’t perfect but that local media doesn’t have the agenda some of the bigger ones do.

He wasn’t buying it. He said CBC would never come to a rally such as theirs. I think he was right there as I didn’t see any CBC coverage on it, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any. And, he said, Citizen editor Neil Godbout would never publish anything about Donald Trump. Why should he, I asked? Once again, it’s Prince George, he should focus on Prince George news. However, I did acquiesce that I too shook my head when the Citizen was in its ‘must publish something from the Washington Post phase.’

For my red-hatted friend, I suspect whatever the Citizen did publish didn’t paint Trump in a favourable light, or even worse was truthful, thus being ‘fake news.’

The irony is Citizen reporters Ted Clarke and Arthur Williams teamed up to write an excellent article about the rally a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t think I convinced him the media isn’t his enemy, or anyone’s enemy for that matter. Former Vernon Morning Star editor Glenn Mitchell used to quip at our Black Press editorial seminars: “We’re journalists, we should have no friends and no enemies.”

But we have to talk. My exchange with the ‘Make Canada Great Again’ fellow at the rally, which was cordial, won’t change the world or even either of our minds. But it was a conversation and conversations lead to understanding, which what we really need more of … by everyone.

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