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Attacks on truth and the media : a study on the extent to which American mainstream newspapers react to post-truth politics and Trump by building a truth discourse

Große, Saskia Leona (2017) Attacks on truth and the media : a study on the extent to which American mainstream newspapers react to post-truth politics and Trump by building a truth discourse.

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Abstract:Disregarding evidence, constructing own facts and appealing to emotions are characteristic for a posttruth environment and have become elements of post-truth politics used by official figures for political benefit. The development does not only challenge our understanding of truth, but puts the very foundations of democracy at stake. The media is increasingly under attack from post-truth politicians and loses trust from the public. As a central actor shaping public discourse it can have the ability to react to post-truth by building a truth discourse to recreate a shared understanding of facts, an informed public and to reestablish the power of truth as a tool for solving society’s problems. This thesis examines the discourse built by American newspapers in reaction to post-truth politics after the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA. Therefore, three major concepts of truth, posttruth politics and the role of the media are reviewed. The analysis builds on other scholars’ theoretical assumptions on the existence of truth, implications of post-truth politics such as ‘illusory democracy’ and the media’s ability to shape (truth) discourse. Through the discourse analysis of 95 articles from six American newspapers, this study has identified discursive elements of the media’s reaction to posttruth politics and its construction of a truth discourse. The findings suggest that newspapers rely heavily on the presentation of facts, using credible sources and objective reporting to build their truth discourse. Although attacks on the outlets have gained considerable attention, prioritizing aggression of Trump, reactions and opinions are to a large extent limited to editorial articles. The media is zealous in making the distinction between reports and editorials, in which it can voice its concerns and criticisms. Nevertheless, the newspapers’ defense as a political actor is more pronounced than its ability to reestablish truth, which is expected to be a consequence of the political attacks by Trump. This thesis contributes to the debate on post-truth politics and delivers insights on the reaction and engagement of mainstream media.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:89 political science
Programme:European Public Administration BSc (56654)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/73227
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