Cas Mudde Profile picture
Nov 26, 2017 27 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
This is supposed to be defense of one of too many uncritical “human interest” @nytimes pieces on neo-Nazis and other far right people. It shows depth of ignorance among journalists.
1. First and foremost, it shows media’s tendency to think in clichés - the purely evil bad person and the purely good victim.
2. Second, it shows the enduring problem of white privilege in the media, undoubtedly strengthened by whiteness of newsrooms as noted by @jbouie
3. No other group of bigots gets so much understanding and voice as white racists. They are whitewashed and redefined as misunderstood or willfully ignored.
4. It also shows completely self-obsessed and self-righteous world of media, which first builds up cliché of “neo-Nazis” (to critique right) and then attacks that cliché (to critique left).
5. But particularly liberal media like @guardian and @nytimes also simply use far right to sell papers to their base.
6. Much of it is what I can “far right porn”, stories about “well-dressed” male neo-Nazis or “beautiful” female neo-Nazis.
7. These stories feed a base obsessed with the far right, who loves to read about their “rise” and feel “aware” about the danger.
8. To make the stories about often marginal neo-Nazis “newsworthy”, so that it doesn’t look like far right porn, their importance is exaggerated.
9. Given that many of its core readers are highly educated whites, they know situation isn’t really thát bad - unfortunately many others do not and truly believe the hype.
10. The “Nazi next door” story also shows complete disregard of academic knowledge by journalists.
11. Same applies for the “economic anxiety” pieces on Trump support, which misrepresents Trump electorate and whitewashes racism.
12. Academic research from many disciplines have shown that (original) Nazis were not just evil killing machines, but fairly ordinary people.
13. Think of Hanna Arendt’s famous piece on “banality of evil”, of Christopher Browning’s “Ordinary Men”, or Bernd Eichiger’s “Downfall”.
14. Three decades (!) of empirical research on European far right has convincingly shown that nativism and immigration are key explanations of far right voting.
15. Finally, journalists always respond to critique of long periods of overly normative coverage by short periods of “neutral” coverage, in which (white) people can say whatever they want without pushback or context.
16. “Reporting the news” means neither just letting people speak nor telling readers that those people are good or bad. It means contextualizing the story!
17. To contextualize you need knowledge rather than opinions. This requires resources, such as experts and time.
18. Unfortunately, few media still invest in journalists, who jump from topic to topic, often on free lance or otherwise precarious conditions. Stories are written fast and with aim to sell.
19. This is one reason why I wanted to create a Center for Analysis of Extremism & Democracy: to create space where journalists could learn more about political extremism to improve their writing.
20. Also to connect journalists with academics and practitioners, to make them all communicate better and learn from each other.
21. All of this is, of course, part of bigger issue, which doesn’t only relate to poor coverage of “the” Trump vote or of “the neo-Nazi next door.”
22. Most elite media recruit disproportionally from elite schools which recruit disproportionately from upper class whites on Coasts.
23. Those journalists are then based in big cities on Coasts and only go to “the Heartland” for cliché stories (same for stories on minorities).
24. Perhaps they can start seriously diversifying internship programs, have these non-Coastsl/Ivy/white/male interns shadow established journalists and provide input and feedback.
25. But, more than anything, journalists should get out of their bubbles, on the Coasts and on Twitter, and follow and meet more diverse voices.
26. And realize that journalists are bringers and contextualizers of “news”, not activists, not moralists, not psychoanalysts, not sociologists. #TheEnd

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More from @CasMudde

Oct 6, 2018
This weekend Brazilians will go to the polls to elect a new president. #Brazil is fifth biggest country in the world, in terms of population, and symptomatic of a remarkable authoritarian turn in the world's biggest states. #thread
1. China is the biggest country and only non-democracy in top-5. But even here General Secretary Xi Jinping has taken the country in a (even) more authoritarian and nationalist direction.
2. India, the world's largest democracy, has been governed by PM Narendra Modi and his radical right BJP-led coalition since 2014. MOstly ignored by international media, India has seen sharp rise of radical and sometimes violent Hindutva activism.
Read 12 tweets
Sep 12, 2018
I have been arguing for a long time that the EU, and particularly the EPP, should stand up to Viktor Orbán, but I feel nevertheless conflicted on triggering #Article7 - let me explain. #Thread…
1. Although triggering Article 7 does not mean kicking Hungary out of EU (more below), it is starting with the "nuclear option".
2. Orbán and Fidesz have been creating an "illiberal state" since regaining power in 2010. That is 8 years of undermining checks and balances, recreating institutions and filling them with cronies, and creating a kleptocracy on Russian model.
Read 21 tweets
Jul 12, 2018
NEW! @pewglobal has just published an interesting and important report on ideology vs populism in Western Europe (full disclosure: I was consulted on it). Here are some of my quick takes. #Thread
You can find the full study here -->…
1. The main takeaway for politicians and pundits should be that populist parties are NOT the voice of the people! In fact, in almost all countries they are BY FAR the least favored party!
2. Favorability gap between populist and traditional parties is massive in North and substantial in much of South! This is even the case with left populist Podemos (less favorable than PP, although poll before govt crisis!) and most normalized populist radical right party, DF!
Read 14 tweets
Jun 29, 2018
Good piece on EPP and Orbán by ⁦⁦@PoliticoRyan⁩ although he is too forgiving on EPP’s incredible hypocrisy. A few comments. #Thread…
1. I honestly don’t see how EPP comes out of EP2019 weaker, except if Macron joins ALDE (big if).
2. S&D will be real loser of EP2019, losing one of its last big parties in big country because of Brexit while many others have recently been decimated.
Read 18 tweets
Nov 13, 2017
I think this piece, while more nuanced than "60.000 Neo-Nazis march in Warsaw", still misses many points. #thread…
1. Poland always has had a very strong far right subculture, which is quite diverse, from neo-Nazis, to neo-fascist (Dmowski) to orthodox-Christian nationalists.
2. Because of electoral system and big right-wing umbrella parties far right parties and politicians mainly operated within right-wing parties rather than separately (recent exception: LPR).
Read 21 tweets
Nov 5, 2017
In past months I’ve criticized high-profile initiatives on populism at Harvard & Stanford. Let me clarify why. #thread
1. I am happy that populism is (finally) taken serious by US mainstream political and social science.
2. Although I wish “populism” was used more carefully and not as short hand for anti-establishment, nativist, or protest politics.
Read 26 tweets

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