The Media and the Rise of Populism

by Sydney Linholm

The media has become unbelievably relevant in politics in the last few years, with many people relying on the media to gain information about politics. With this, we’ve seen a surge in things like “fake news” contributing to this rise in populism and people shifting towards far-right points of view. The article by Des Freedman discusses how the media has become a vessel for this as they have failed to stop the spread of far-right ideas online.

I think that this idea is especially relevant in the United States, which is where we’ve seen both a rise in populist thought during the Trump era and extreme media polarization, with both sides of the spectrum seemingly spreading “fake news” depending on what side you’re on. This ties into last week’s topic of QAnon as well, and this is one of the ways that the connection can be made to Europe: QAnon has used the media attention to gain supporters in Europe, and media reporting on right-wing populist movements such as the Yellow Jackets or anti-lockdown protests has only contributed to media polarization.

The more polarized the media becomes, the more they contribute to the rise of populism. As different media outlets report things according to their political leanings, the information becomes more and more tailored to their audiences and these political leanings (take the example of Fox News and CNN). Eventually, it becomes hard to pinpoint which media outlet’s information is reliable which leads to a growing distrust of the media, which is often seen in populist thought.

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