239. The dangers of badly understood media neutrality

The last few years have been marked by the accession to power, in a number of countries, of regimes and people we can define as nihilists, who operate as if reality did not exist, and could be moulded by their will. When reality goes, accountability goes with it, creating the perfect environment for those who govern for power and not the governed. Several conditions must exist for nihilists to succeed. The one I focus on today is badly understood media neutrality. In the interest of balance, Western media, for a number of years, chose to present reality and falsehood as equivalent positions, as opinions, refusing to highlight falsehood as being different to fact, concerned with being accused of bias, negligent of their duty to report fact. This created fertile ground for the likes of Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro or Farage to sew confusion. Hannah Arendt, the chronicler of a previous brand of nihilism, explained it thus: ‘The only way to recognise reality is that it is common to all of us’ 

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