Letter from Edinburgh - Friday 17th February 2017

This seems a good week to say well done to the media. Some claim that politicians and journalists have a love-hate relationship. That is a gross exaggeration. People who write or broadcast need the actions and thoughts of those involved in politics and government at all levels. Councillors and MSPs need news outlets to report what they are saying. 

The achievements of the local media are recognised at the Highland & Islands Media Awards. Once again Shetland has done extremely well with The Shetland Times and Radio Shetland’s Daniel Lawson all recognised for their work. The Shetland News agency has been honoured previously.

I am sure Times editor Adam Civico or Daniel have watched the brilliant movie about Watergate that ended the Nixon presidency in the 1970s. All the President’s Men featured Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the Washington Post journalists who uncovered an illegal break-in at the Democrat HQ.

The trail eventually led to the Oval Office and President Nixon resigned in disgrace. Bernstein and Woodward were brave, investigative journalists who did not take no for an answer and uncovered the story of the century.

Fast forward to 2017. The week President Trump’s national security advisor resigned. Mike Flynn did so two weeks after Trump was told that he had lied about a conversation with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn resigned only because an American newspaper found out and put this on the front page. Chaos now engulfs the Trump White House. No matter how many times he tweets, the Donald just makes things worse. It may be one thing running a property empire. But it is another becoming commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

Few understand Trump’s apparent closeness to the Russian president. There is no doubt that the Russians were involved in the US elections. And on Trump’s side. Did that make the difference between winning and losing? We will never know. And the USA has been involved overtly and covertly in elections across the globe for decades. So a foreign power seeking to influence a democratic election is nothing new. Wrong? Yes. But it happens.

Russia who are now doing the same in the French elections. Putin supports the nationalist Marine Le Pen. Other candidates vying for the French presidency are crying foul. And no wonder.

Russia would want to see President Le Pen. She is committed to pulling France out of the EU. If that were to happen the European Union is over in its current form. Some might say good. But when Putin and Trump are the two main cheerleaders for European disintegration people will ask why? In whose interest is the end of the EU? If the answer is Donald and Vladimir it is time people said no.

News and the accurate reporting of what is happening has never mattered so much.

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