The anti-media sentiment being expressed by politicians in the United States first developed in Scotland under the “proto-Trumpian” leadership of First Minister Alex Salmond, it has been claimed.
Writing in a new book about Donald Trump’s relationship with the media, former journalist David Torrance says the President’s behaviour is the “culmination, rather than the origin” of the anti-media atmosphere which he argues happened first in Scotland.
The essay, The Scottish Provenance of Trump’s Approach to the Media, appears in a book called Trump’s Media War.
Mr Trump has repeatedly railed against what he calls “fake news” and has described journalists as the “enemy of the people”.
Mr Torrance says that the former SNP leader had initially enjoyed a good relationship with the media, but argues there was a “deliberate strategy” on Mr Salmond’s part to begin launching attacks.
He says: “Following the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, Alex Salmond began to display proto-Trumpian characteristics now he led a majority, rather than a minority, administration.
“Having impressed even his critics with an ecumenical, statesmanlike approach to politics between 2007 and 2011, the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader reverted to the previous form, a highly partisan, shoot-from-the-hip, take-no-prisoners approach.”
Mr Torrance says that, in retrospect, the former First Minister “was displaying a very Trump-like obsession with, and sensitivity about” the mainstream media during the referendum campaign.
He concludes: “Had Salmond detected the populist tide before any of his contemporaries, domestic or international?
“Or had a combination of events made journalists an inevitable target during a polarising referendum? Whatever the case, it was more accurate to view Donald J. Trump as the culmination, rather than the origin, of the ongoing anti-media atmosphere. But rather than starting with Brexit, it happened in Scotland first.”
Mr Torrance, who has written books on both Mr Salmond and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was criticised by the former SNP leader following his decision to step down in 2014. In a letter to a newspaper, Mr Salmond referred to the journalist as “my self-appointed biographer”, adding: “First, I hardly know David Torrance. And secondly – and much more problematically for a biographer – he doesn’t know me at all.”
Last year Mr Torrance was caught up in a row when the SNP was accused of mocking him in a party political broadcast. The party said the similarities between Mr Torrance and one of the characters in the film were coincidental.
A spokesman for Mr Salmond declined to comment on the essay.