Donald Trump movie and the ill-defined concept of the ‘public interest’…

If you have watched You’ve Been Trumped yet, you should. There are many strong points to this documentary on not just how Donald Trump threw his weight around with local residents whose homes bordered his development in Aberdeenshire.

But of most interest to me is the degree to which the Scottish media and Scottish civil society meekly abandoned any public interest duty and at the very least acquiesced in the rich American’s appalling treatment of his ‘neighbours’.

One of the most telling passages in the hour and a half long film was in a Press Conference, when the independent film maker was told that only real journalists could ask questions.

A freelancer – largely on his own and with no big media brand to quote at the cops – Anthony Baxter was lumped into an police cell for four hours on the word of a contractor who had separately accused him of a breach of the peace some time before.

It’s instructive at one point to hear one policeman ask him to turn off his camera when Baxter points out that in Scotland there is a law called right to roam and that they are effectively telling him that this does not apply in the case of Mr Trump’s land.

It’s powerful, emotive and almost certainly takes the side of the residents of the Menie Estate who’s houses back on to the new golf course.

There’s also a swipe at Alex Salmond and the SNP who played a prominent role in ensuring Trump was given permission to build in an area designated as an SSSI.

It raises an important question about the public interest and when does it kick in?

One of the most notable finding in a research report published yesterday by the Carnegie Foundation (which co-incidentally is also based in Scotland) is that in the UK, there is no definition of the Public Interest in relation to the press.

A fact underlined in the judgement of Mr Justice Eady in the Max Mosely case of 2008 (on the right), which he pointed out that the term ‘public interest’ whilst much used in the defence of intrusive journalistic techniques, is not defined as a legal term.

Define it too narrowly and it becomes useless for most situations. Too broad and press freedom becomes licence. Interestingly, not least because of the furore around the BBC, the Carnegie research suggests the public would be cautious publishers.

Despite his blatant partisanship with the community of Menie, Baxter’s film looks to me like a case of someone taking public interest seriously. It’s also unusual (and this is a real advantage of independents) in that it took nearly six years to make.

It’s rare for commissioning editors to think in such long time frame. Yet you often need to follow any inveterate issue over several iterations before you can get a handle on what’s real and what’s just your own projected belief.

Burying bad news on Friday only works because too many news frames have collapsed into the era of the nanosecond, as Julia Hobsbawm has put it.

You’ve been Trumped is still available on the iPlayer… Or even join us for Friday’s edition of #DigitalLunch on the subject

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  • Alone and Easy Target

    It was truly a great documentary and I am glad I watched it. As much as it was partisan in that he clearly supported the residents case, he afforded so many opportunities to Mr Trump, the site manager and the police to contribute it was their approach that fell short in putting forward their case.

    I was very concerned about the action of the police when they arrested Anthony; they seemed reluctant to do so but from when they approached in their car up until the arrest you knew something was not quite right. Whether or not they had orders to act on or pressure had been applied up the chain of command will probably not be known.

    Overall, whether you agree with the redisignation of this land or not, you should watch it.

  • galloglaigh

    I watched it on Monday. A very well though out film, and worth a watch. It’s a pity one of the residents didn’t get that photo. Could you imagine the embarrassment of Trump, when his comb-over blew to one side? The man’s an asshole, and for Salmond to allow his shite to go on so long is a disgrace. It could be a future tool for the Scot’s who don’t want a breakup of the Union. Silly man; Silly Salmond; Silly Sausage!

  • galloglaigh

    And the right to roam was, in this case blocked, because it’s a construction site. Once it stops being a construction site, and becomes a golf course, will that change? Are there any cases of the right to roam being blocked by any other courses?

    You feel for the poor man who the Trumps’ claim built on ‘their land’ too. I wonder how many fat envelopes were handed out for this project?

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    His big announcement today was even shittier than expected. Which is saying something.

  • Neil

    Great doc, Trump’s a laughing stock. I wonder what his plans are for the equally beautiful chunk of land opposite Magilligan prison? But some of the stuff in the doc was disturbing, the arrest in particular was a disgrace.

  • We also have the curious behaviour of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen:

    Degree returned over Donald Trump’s RGU award

    The former principal of an Aberdeen university has handed back an honorary degree in protest at a similar award being given to Donald Trump.

    .. Dr Kennedy said: “Mr Trump is simply not a suitable person to be given an honorary degree and he should not be held up as an example of how to conduct business.

    “Mr Trump’s behaviour in north-east Scotland has been deplorable from the first, particularly in how he has treated his neighbours.”

    So what influenced the university to make such an award?

  • wild turkey

    This is classic situation that show the pitfalls and shortcomings of ‘objective journalism’ what mad the documentary work was it’s unabashed sympathy for the locals. speaking of locals, teed up Local Hero on the DVD after watching Mr Trump

    heres a question that draws on previous posts about the local media and the ongoing dynamism of the local political class.
    if el Donaldo wanted to something similar at say, White Park Bay, how would the local pols, polis and media react?

    answers on a postcard please.

  • Alias

    Salmond’s administration was keen to follow the Irish example were a pragmatic government was keen to be seen to be bending over backwards to encourage FDI by showing that red tape and suchlike wouldn’t be permitted to stand in the way of foreign entrepreneurial progress.

    That, of course, was when the Irish political class were seen as the golden boys of Europe in a Celtic Tiger era…

  • theelk11


    how is the golf resort at runkerry any different.
    lots of our political class salivating at the american money despite the local objections and lack of any evidence that these projects are economically viable?

  • Alias

    I didn’t say it was. I was just pointing out that – once upon a time – the so-called pragmatism of the Irish political class (that they would bend over backwards to clear obstacles out of FDI path) was seen by the Scottish political class as behaviour that should be emulated – and that it seems to have produced the same lamentable results.

    Pragmatism actually means a complete lack of principles, ethics, codes, etc, and it creates a climate where chancers are cherished and thrive at the expense of others. Oddly enough, you don’t hear the Irish boasting about how pragmatic they are these days…

  • aquifer

    Millions of dollars from touring golfers?

    Or a view for the few?

    The public interest in this can be measured in £ S D, and it should be before making such decisions, with or without Donald.

    Any room at Magilligan?

  • Red Lion

    Aberdeenshire Council initially blocked the decision – only for Salmond’s government to go steaming in overuling them!!!

    Thats what gets me. The London Sc Economics guy got it wrong when he said its understandable city fathers might be taken in by the money but would expect more of the canny Scottish government. The City fathers weren’t taken in!! they rejected it and then Salmond takes up the reins.

    Appalling! The dangers of croneyism and shortcutting and riding roughshot over safeguards in a small country – devolved ministers getting too close to matters beyond their comprehension, getting ideas above their stations and being mesmerized by the allure of money and glamour over upholding simple rights for everyone.

  • SK

    Alias, I get the feeling you don’t like us very much

  • Good piece Mick and a truly shocking documentary, Salmon comes out of this very poorly, and it makes one wonder if an independent Scotland under him may be more like Singapore than the social democrat state some on the left of the SNP believe it will become.

    I blogged on this here

  • thethoughtfulone

    “So what influenced the university to make such an award?”

    Maybe you should have posed that question in the style of Mrs Merton.

    “So what influenced the university to make such an award to the millionaire Donald Trump?”


  • babyface finlayson

    What’s with all the ‘Salmon’?
    It detracted from your article I felt.

  • theelk11

    Hi alias

    Yes your absolutely right, pragmatism as you define it needs to to be questioned at all times.
    My point is that our lot are not immune to this disease, some have expensive tastes and interesting friendships with developers or second homes obtained when still technically unemployed.
    It’s all a matter of opportunity.