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Putting Press Intimidation in Context: The Disinformation Disorder and the Radical Right

By Lance Bennett & Steven Livingston

In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, scholars began to see the outlines of an emerging phenomenon, something Fareed Zakaria at the time called “illiberal regimes.” Others would later refer to hybrid governance to describe elected governments that, once in office, use their authority to systematically undermine institutions of democratic governance. To illustrate the idea, political scientist David Ost points to the Hungarian and Polish cases where the constitutional courts have been gutted, civil service politicized, and news media turned into a “government mouthpiece.” Also evident is an “official tolerance and even promotion of racism and bigotry, administrative assertion of traditional gender norms, cultural resurrection of authoritarian traditions, placing loyalty over competence in awarding state posts.” In other cases, authoritarians turn to violent repression. In the immediate aftermath of the failed 2016 coup in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government arrested over 70,000 people, including 2,385 judges and scores of university professors and journalists.  Erdoğan also shuttered 370 civil society groups. Similarly, India, Spain and Hungary have enacted laws restricting civil society actions.  In Hungary this year, President Viktor Orban government introduced a bill in Parliament that would all but abolish the Central European University. Continue reading

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