When my family talks about their days in Beograd, there are no shortage of colourful characters that lived in a bygone era. Uroš was the man who didn't have a nose. Ilya was the guy who was always philandering, no matter how many times his wife marched in on him and beat him up. Milka was the Roma housekeeper that my grandfather convinced my mom as a toddler that was her "real" mom. Then there was Baba Natalia.
Old Lady Natalia was the neighbourhood gossip, and if it was a boring day, she'd make stuff up and draw very salacious conclusions based on zero evidence. Gossip-mongering was cheap entertainment in a place where not everyone had a television set.
It wasn't the most reliable grapevine, to say the least. She never let the facts get in the way of a story that was clearly none of her business.
Maclean's is a magazine once ran by Peter C. Newman -- and his tenure was best symbolized by the map of Canada he had on his wall -- with pins reminding him to represent news from all areas so that the publication was relevant to as many people as possible.
Maclean's now has none of that. It has been reduced to gossip and conjecture about Melania Trump.
Anne Kingston's piece is a sad sight: with no facts, she speculates about the American president's wife, whom we are all supposed to pity. Without knowing anything about the First Lady, she churns out drivel that tells the readers nothing newsworthy or important.
She is like Baba Natalia spinning a yarn to make herself sound wise and in the know.
The First Lady has no power over legislations. She is not elected. She is the spouse of the president.
Her notoriety hinges on the press writing about her, but if the press were doing their jobs, they wouldn't actually be giving that kind of press to the person who is living in the White House only because of marrying someone who won the competition.
The state of that union is not actual news. It doesn't affect citizen's lives. The First Lady has no power to increase taxes or send troops to foreign countries.
But it is cheap and easy stories. The press still talks about Michelle Obama as she encourages the Left to wallow as if they all lost their careers, homes, and all of their freedoms in the last year.
But it is gossip, and journalists never could distinguish between news and gossip.
And yet there is a huge difference. Gossip is nebulous and unscientific. It isn't even emotional: it is pure spite. It is there to establish a false pecking order with the target of gossip being inferior to the person doing the gossiping. It is a form of personal propaganda, and is used as a personal attack to imply that target is untrustworthy and dysfunctional.
Gossip shuns actual proof. It is the reason the press devours gossip, but when it comes to actual research that requires facts, that same press runs away from the hard work.
This is a vicious hatchet piece that targets someone who, if the press had done its job properly, is not actually news. The focus should be on the one who does have clout.
Many world leaders had less than stellar marriages. Bill Clinton was not a model husband by anyone's standards. Pierre Trudeau's marriage dissolved while he was in office.
Canada has a lot of real problems right now. We have homeless people, and more of them. We have a serious domestic violence problem. We have a huge problem with human trafficking and child porn. We also have children with special needs who cannot get adequate educational supports.
We are not addressing problems head on because we always have a press that sunny spins rot. The press always pulls their punches when it comes to Canadian affairs, but then kick people in foreign countries with their gossiping because it's "safe."
It's not. It's a bigoted and sexist thing to do.
Enough is enough. There are some real problems festering right now.
Go cover that.