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CNN, Daily Caller seek press gallery membership amid growing global interest in Canadian politics

By Marco Vigliotti      

In the era of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's high-profile embrace of liberal causes produces a 'narrative that's interesting to the international media,' says columnist Andrew Cohen.

Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery scrum Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Reporters from CNN and right-wing U.S.-news service The Daily Caller recently received temporary membership in the press gallery. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s global advocacy for liberal pluralism in an era of growing right-wing populism is sparking renewed interest among international news outlets in covering Canadian politics, says columnist Andrew Cohen, as CNN rejoins the Parliamentary Press Gallery for the first time in two decades.

“In a world in which some would say trends are conservative, are regressive on immigration, on women, here you have a country which puts in the window gender parity in cabinet and celebrates the number of refugees and immigrants it takes every year,” he told The Hill Times in a phone interview from Washington, D.C, where he’s serving as a Fulbright scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Mr. Cohen has written for several news organizations including the Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen.

“That’s a narrative that’s interesting to the international media.”

CNN correspondent Paula Newton was granted a temporary six-month membership in the Canadian Parliamentary Press gallery last month, as was David Krayden, a reporter for U.S.-based The Daily Caller, an online news service founded by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, a former chief policy adviser to Republican vice-president Dick Cheney.

Vince Coglianese, editor of The Daily Caller, described Mr. Krayden’s temporary membership and expanding coverage of Canada’s Parliament as a “natural fit,” with the website already attracting many Canadian readers each month.

“We’re excited to explore [this] country, which is why we hired a native to lead the charge,” he said via email.

Mr. Krayden previously worked in communications for the Department of National Defence, as a Conservative staffer on the Hill, and an editor with the short-lived Sun News television channel, according to his LinkedIn account.

Mr. Cohen pointed to recent moves by The New York Times and BBC to establish Canadian bureaus as evidence of heightened interest in covering Canada from the the U.S. and abroad.

Messages to Ms. Newton, Mr. Krayden, and CNN were not returned.

The New York Times announced last year that it would start up its own Canada bureau, and Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter was revealed as the paper’s Toronto bureau chief earlier this year.

Ian Austen has long served as the paper’s Ottawa-based correspondent.

The BBC also said last summer that it would start its own Canada bureau, along with a Canadian edition of its website.

Mr. Cohen cited the new bureaus and increased coverage of Canada by the Washington Post as a return to a bygone era where there was more interest in covering the country from American and international outlets.

Up until the 1990s, several American and British newspapers had full time correspondents in Ottawa or Toronto, he said, but some of them left over the course of the decade and the early 2000s.

Mr. Cohen partly attributed the resurgent interest among some of the larger American outlets to their editorially liberal viewpoints.

Confronted with an increasingly populist and conservative political landscape at home, he said newspapers like the Times and Post are turning to Canada to highlight a government proudly taking on liberal initiatives, such as resettling Syrian refugees.

“They weren’t coming here when Stephen Harper was in power,” he said of the papers’ interest during the government of former Conservative prime minister, from 2006 to 2015.

Conversely, conservative-leaning outlets like Fox News and the Daily Caller are following Canada to point out and highlight shortcomings with the Trudeau government, Mr. Cohen said.

He said the photogenic prime minister pushing the message is also contributing to the surge in interest stateside and abroad.

Much of the allure in covering Canada is attributable to its “salesman” Mr. Trudeau, who has an international stature and is “attractive to the media,” he said.

But while foreign outlets are increasingly turning to Canada, the financial difficulties in establishing a presence remains apparent, Mr. Cohen said, pointing out that popular listicle disseminator Buzzfeed closed its two-person parliamentary bureau in 2016 after just over a year in operation. The two reporters moved to work for Buzzfeed in Washington.

“You can express interest in Canada; whether it works economically or financially for you is another question,” he added.

mvigliotti@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times 

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