On December 16, Daniel Dale, the Toronto Star‘s Washington correspondent, gave a talk at The Varsity‘s office at 21 Sussex Avenue.
Dale received considerable attention for his persistent fact-checking of statements made by Donald Trump during the recent U.S. election campaign, and was named one of 2016’s breakout media stars by Politico for his coverage.
Prior to covering the U.S. election, Dale covered Toronto City Hall during Rob Ford’s turbulent mayoral administration from 2010 to early 2015.
Beginning in June 2015, Dale’s election coverage focused primarily on the absurdity of Donald Trump’s campaign and his loyal followers.
The event lasted just under an hour and a half with both students and non-students in attendance. Dale’s talk was also streamed live on The Varsity‘s Facebook page.
Dale spoke about his peculiar experiences covering the campaign starting with his first interaction with Trump supporters at a Virginia rally in a NASCAR racetrack. Following this half-hour period, questions were opened to the audience both in-person and online.
Dale touched on the topic of Trump fans and their grievances: he saw them as a complex group filled with a variety of different kinds of people, saying: “There’s economic anxiety, yes there are a lot of racists out there, and yes there’s a whole bunch of other reasons why people backed him as well.”
With regards to Trump’s lying, Dale said it was more than strategic fibs: “What I found most remarkable wasn’t even particular lies. It was the casualness and needlessness with which he lied.”
When discussing the media’s failures in the election, which some say potentially contributed to Trump’s victory, Dale said the primary media failure was not, “that the media didn’t explain that there was this level of anger and support out there,” in fact, Dale said that there was plenty of reporting on Trump’s electorate. Instead, Dale believes that the media, including himself, was too “hyper-certain.”
“I think we had a polling error and we had a media error in explaining what polling data means and where it can go awry,” Dale said.
The future of media was discussed as well. This included the decline of traditional news reporting and outlets, the rise of social media and fast-paced news cycles, and the prominence of fake news.
The event concluded with online questions asking Dale about his background, as well as him offering some advice to young journalists.
Since the election, Dale said that he took a much-needed two week vacation, but will continue covering the Trump administration for the Star in the future.
Watch the recording of the livestream of the talk on Facebook.