Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

The media versus the populists

COMMENT

TAGS: Media, Politics

I get despondent sometimes at how the mainstream media treat US President Donald Trump, feeling the urge to shout that they’re making the same mistakes we made in the summer of 2015 with the bogus referendum.

The first mistake they’re making is creating the sense that the entire “system” is picking on one man who’s opposing them. This is the biggest mistake you can make in anti-systemic times. Politicians cast as David against a mythical Goliath tend to gain popularity. It’s a role and a piece of theater that always scores points. It doesn’t matter whether they are part of the system themselves, as is the case with Trump, nor if they are in a constant game of give-and-take with representatives of the system. What matters is the image they project, so the more the system appears to squeeze them, the more they win.

The media’s persistence is often viewed as an obsession and this is annoying to citizens. Take CNN, for example, which keeps harping on about Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in public. Those who agree, agree. Those who don’t will not be swayed by repetition; instead, they will be angered.

This brings us to the second mistake. The American liberal elite seems to believe that the rest of the US shares its values and beliefs. We made a similar mistake here in Greece, confusing Kolonaki with Peristeri and the northern suburbs of Athens with the western ones, just as the American media is confusing Manhattan with Missouri.

Not wearing a mask has become a trend and a statement for the “other America,” akin to having a National Rifle Association (NRA) bumper sticker on your car to declare your belief in the right to bear arms.

Yet reading the mainstream media often gives the impression that the writers are living in a world of their own, looking out at the others with a sense of arrogance and unease, through a lens of political correctness. It takes time to learn from your mistakes. They didn’t see Trump coming in 2016, just as we were shocked by the result of the general election in 2012 and even more so by the outcome of the 2015 referendum.

In order to beat the charismatic populists of this world, you must never stoop to their level. They will always be more popular because they put on a facade of sincerity and truth. They are convincing. What you need to do is listen to and understand their supporters, feel what gives them such momentum and acceptance. If you think you can beat them by making fun of their grammar or absurd statements, you are gravely mistaken.

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