The Radical Right versus the Media: from Media Critique to Claims of (Mis)Representation

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The Radical Right versus the Media: from Media Critique to Claims of (Mis)Representation


  • Louise Knops Department of Political Science, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
  • Benjamin De Cleen Department of Communication Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


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Abstract:  Criticizing mainstream media for their ‘lies’ or ‘fake news’ has become a common political practice on the radical right. Further empirical research is needed to better understand the intricacies of these attacks on media, in particular for the way they relate to criticism of the political system as a whole and to matters of political representation. How do radical right actors construct a sense of political misrepresentation through their critique of media, and how does this allow them to make representative claims? This is what we explore in this article through a discourse analysis of the Flemish radical right youth movement Schild & Vrienden. Drawing inspiration from constructivist theories of representation, we explore the entanglement in empirical practice between two dimensions of representation: 1) between its literal meaning (as ‘portrayal’) and its political meaning (as standing or speaking for), and 2) between representation and misrepresentation. With our analysis, we shed light on the increasing politicization of the media as a non-electoral space of representation and misrepresentation, and on the role played by media criticism in the radical right’s broader (meta)political strategies.

Keywords:  discourse; media critique; misrepresentation; radical right; representative claims; Schild & Vrienden

Published:   24 September 2019


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v7i3.2131


© Louise Knops, Benjamin De Cleen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.