J.D. gets Trumped

Journalist and Toronto native John Roberts, who began his career as J. D. Roberts on Citytv and MuchMusic, heads back to the Washington to cover American President Donald Trump’s administration for Fox News


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What’s the big challenge with the new gig?
What’s interesting: I’ve done the White House before, and I’ve done research on how to do the job. I’ve spent seven years there, so I know all about the inner workings of the federal government, from budgets to military, so I don’t have to do any work there. The hardest part of the job is going to be relocation. And looking for homes is my second least favourite thing to do right behind wrapping Christmas presents.

Have you started that process?
I definitely have to do that. I haven’t done it. My wife has actually gone on one house-hunting trip so far, and I’m actually meeting her in D.C. on Friday to look at some places on the weekend.

Are you worried about what might happen under President Trump?
Personally, I’m not worried in the least. People look at Donald Trump and they see a person who is not cast in a political mould, and he is the antithesis of the establishment politicians. I’ve covered this guy for a long time. I’ve known him for a long time. And I’ve seen the people who he is bringing in to talk to him. For example, the roundtable from the tech industry, most of whom actively helped campaign against him. I really do think his intentions are in the right place...

I was going to say, Peter Mansbridge is retired this year. There might be an opening?
I was just given a fabulous job with a front row seat to history in what will be the most predominant news story for the next four years, and I’m thrilled So thanks, but I’m not looking for anything right now. 

So you think the concerns are overblown?
Donald Trump is the president-elect of the most powerful country in the world, and he becomes the de facto most powerful person in the world, and I think that people need to give him a bit of a chance. If he doesn’t deliver, in four years, vote him out of office. All these machinations to delegitimize his presidency, in the larger picture, only serve to hurt the country. Someone is elected president. It is incumbent upon the people of the nation to give them a chance. Clearly, some people will never accept him, but if people actively oppose everything, the country will never move forward in a positive direction.

He hasn’t mentioned much about our little country up here?
It’s like your next door neighbourhood: you’re always going to have a relationship with your neighbour. You might have an argument once in a while over where the fence is or the fact that his dog barks late at night, but that relationship is always going to be there. Typically, the first visit of an incoming president is to Canada. I don’t know if that will happen this time as he’s really breaking the mould of what presidents are expected to do. 

So what surprised you the most regarding the election in 2016?
I didn’t think going into election that Trump really had a great chance at winning. I thought he’d win Florida. I thought he’d probably win North Carolina and had a decent chance of winning Ohio, but I did not think he’d win Michigan, I never thought he’d win Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. And that just goes to show the idea of the underground Trump voter, that completely disaffected person, was out there and out there to a degree I don’t even think the Trump camp realized.

What is the big difference between an election in Canada and one there?
It’s interesting because it is not just a political process in the U.S. It’s a money-maker. There are so many people whose livelihood depends on a long campaign whether you are talking about political operatives, campaign managers over all the 50 states or the TV, radio and publications who make oodles and oodles of money running ads. Politics is a big business down here.

What do you miss most about Toronto?
The multicultural aspect of the city. I really love the fact that I could go to all of these different neighbourhoods and can have all these people who come from so many different places around the world, and they are not expected to change their way of life just because they have moved to a different country. 

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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