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Digital Media and the Rise of Populist Right-Wing

by Oui Wed Oct 31st, 2018 at 04:25:04 PM EST

Journalism and the Mainstream Media has defaulted on integrity, given rise to paid-for articles and trying to catch up to daily headlines initiated by social media and live reporting by citizens. In addition the Obama administration allowed government propaganda to creep into the news by undressing the Smith-Mundt Act.

[links added in next article are mine  - Oui]

Digital media and the rise of right-wing populism | JStor |

Studies of the internet and politics often focus on progressive politics - on the internet as a democratizing influence or on movements such as Occupy Wall Street in the United States. The other main area is the deviant internet hackers and mischief-makers like trolls. What gets far less attention are the retrogressive mainstream political forces such as right-wing populism, which, I will argue, have been the single most important political change in at least three of the countries examined here (in China they are the most important). To make the argument, this chapter compares four right-wing populist movements: Donald Trump, in America, Narendra Modi in India, the Sweden Democrats and Chinese nationalists. Digital media have been a necessary precondition for the success of all four, but in quite different ways, depending on the media system, including digital media, in each country. Common to all four, however, is the fact that digital media have bypassed traditional media gatekeepers.

Continued below the fold ...


Trump's success in becoming the Republican candidate was achieved by dominating the agenda of mainstream media via his use of Twitter. In India, Modi used Twitter to mobilize his Hindutva supporters to become elected as prime minister; like Trump, he circumvented his own party. Sweden Democrats have online newspapers that create an alternative to the consensus in public broadcast media and among parties that lock them out. And in China, the government uneasily keeps in check extremists who promote the stronger assertion of a nationalist agenda using social media. In all four countries, populists politicians, parties and movements have used digital alternatives to get around the mainstream media, which populists and their leaders perceive as biased against them. In doing so, they have been able to promote a message online that is less visible in traditional media, partly because it would be more contested there, and sometimes because their message is unacceptable within mainstream media or is against media regulation. The strength of populism cannot be understood without a theory that takes into account how new technologies enable parties and movements to become counter publics that reshape the political agenda in media.

Related reading ...

Baku's Humanitarian Forum examines globalisation & its discontents | Euronews - October 30, 2018 |
Documents Show Mass FBI Infiltration of OWS, Movement Treated as Criminal, Terrorist Threat
The changing political landscape in Sweden

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans | Foreign Policy - July 2013 |

The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act, a long-standing piece of legislation that has been amended numerous times over the years, perhaps most consequentially by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. In the 1970s, Fulbright was no friend of VOA and Radio Free Europe, and moved to restrict them from domestic distribution, saying they "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics." Fulbright's amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, who argued that such "propaganda" should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. "from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity."

Zorinsky and Fulbright sold their amendments on sensible rhetoric: American taxpayers shouldn't be funding propaganda for American audiences. So did Congress just tear down the American public's last defense against domestic propaganda?

Apple Pie Propaganda? The Smith-Mundt Act Before and After the Repeal of the Domestic Dissemination Ban

For over sixty years, the Smith-Mundt Act prohibited the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) from disseminating government-produced programming within the United States over fears that these agencies would "propagandize" the American people. However, in 2013, Congress abolished the domestic dissemination ban, which has led to a heated debate about the role of the federal government in free public discourse. Although the 2013 repeal of the domestic dissemination ban promotes greater government transparency and

Related reading about the Smith-Mundt Act ...

The Terror Trap Laid By Warmongers In the US and Israel
EU/NATO Propaganda It's About Daesh and Russia [Update5]
"Fake Reporting or Propaganda Does Not Violate US Law" - Gen. Casey by Oui @BooMan on March 23, 2006  
William Safire Worked for Military Intelligence comment by rom wyo @BooMan on June 4, 2005

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