Slap down

David Ljunggren of Reuters reports on covering the Canadian election
amid surreal political perspectives of the economy, and an economic
reporter’s attempts to get a handle on Conservative policy positions.
The  piece is part reality-check, part critical analysis and part

Early in the election, Ljunggren writes about his unusual experience of
being “slapped down on live television by the leader of a major
industrialized nation” when he asked Stephen Harper “why he was so sure
he could keep the budget in surplus. The ailing U.S. economy was headed
for much bigger trouble, I said. And given that the United States
swallows 75 percent of all Canadian exports, this was surely bad news
for Ottawa.”

Harper, said Ljunggren, “looked at me sternly. “First of all I would
just call on everybody to engage in analysis more sober than that,” he
said to snickers from the audience. It was unlikely there would be a
U.S. crash or recession so everyone should remain calm, he added.”

Later, following the U.S. crash and as the atmosphere turned nasty, Ljunggren recalled how “Harper held his
news conferences in front of supporters, who booed questions
questioning how he was handling the crisis. “Go back to Russia!”
shouted an irate man at one point. That’s odd, I thought — in my five
years as a Moscow reporter, I was never booed or screamed at during a
news conference.”

Booing, screaming and put-downs: why is that increasingly the strategy of
especially right-wing partisans to journalists who dare ask questions?