“We still occupy a Cold War headspace”

This, by Jonathan Lis, is an interesting column about the problem with media coverage of modern despots.

Across the so-called ‘advanced’ democracies, leaders are no longer playing by the old rules. Our media still is.

Lis argues that the media is failing in its coverage of one despot in particular. The one in the White House.

Perhaps the first thing we must do is shake off our ingrained awe and terror of the United States.

We still occupy a Cold War headspace in which the US is on the side of good. The world oppresses; America liberates.

The mainstream British media has no compunction in labelling Marine Le Pen in France or Matteo Salvini in Italy as far-right – because they are. These figures are safe targets for objective reporting.

But there is not a cigarette paper between those leaders and Trump. Indeed, Trump’s rhetoric frequently exceeds theirs in obscenity. If we label them as far-right, why not also him?

His point about Le Pen and Salvini is one I hadn’t thought of. If they do something racist, it’s reported here as such. But if Trump does it, we reach for the euphemisms: “racially charged” or “controversial.”

Journalism cannot operate in a climate of either fear or deference. If something must be named, we must name it.