MANSBRIDGE: You know, we are sitting here with Westminster in the background here, and there was a rather remarkable meeting in there last week, where former Prime Minister Tony Blair came in as part of the hacking scandal and trying to understand what was going on there in terms of the relationship between politicians and media. He basically said that to get his agenda through that place he had to develop a close relationship with the media giants in this town. He made it sound like he had to suck up to them to get his agenda through. Is that something peculiar to this place?
HARPER: Well it can't be the same for me, because I have never had that kind of relationship and I'm still around after six and a half years. What I would say is this Peter, the media is tremendously important, and it's important for our government and all governments that we are able to communicate our story through the media. It doesn't mean there is a balance of editorial opinion that favors what you are doing or that the opposition doesn't have its voice, but you have to be able to effectively communicate your story through the media. You have to be able to do more than that in my judgment. I constantly tell my caucus and cabinet it's not sufficient in the internet age to communicate through the media; you have to be able to do it on the ground, door by door, coffee shop by coffee shop, shop floor by shop floor. You really have to do that as well. What I’m reading about the relationships here, maybe it's been different under previous prime ministers, but I couldn't imagine that in Canada. It's not that you or I don't know people in the media, or in your case, people in politics, but my sense is that there is a sense of distance as well that I think is essential to both of our jobs. We have to ultimately do what we believe is in the broader public interest, not just the interest of the media, which after all is only one segment of the Canadian economy. And you guys have to ultimately be able to deliver what you think is independent reporting.
MANSBRIDGE: Do you read it? Do you read Canadian media?
HARPER: No. My staff every day gives me a review of the headlines, a review of the major stories on television, just an overview. I want to get the view the public gets of media reporting. The public sees the big picture. They don't get into every single editorial, or is every single, you know – is every singlereference of me positive or negative? I don't need to know that stuff. I would go crazy if I spent all my time obsessing on that stuff. I need to know the big picture, what's the public hearing and seeing and to the extent that they are able to communicate back, what they are saying. But other than that, I need to be able to keep my head clear, and focus on whether decisions are right or wrong.
MANSBRIDGE: There was a time when you said that actually the media you watched was the American media to find out what was going on.
HARPER: To the extent Peter, before I got into this world of being the Prime Minister of Canada, I was a bit of a news junkie and politics junkie. So to the extent I enjoy doing that I'll now enjoy watching the US presidential race and hearing it analyzed inside out. But I’m not interested in hearing myself analyzed inside and out. I'm sure much of it is useful and insightful but in the end, I am not an objective judge on that kind of stuff. I have to do what we think is the right thing for the country.
MANSBRIDGE: Alright, Prime Minister, thanks very much.
HARPER: Thanks for having me.
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