Marc Jongen Robin Krahl/ Creative Commons

Speaking to the Far Right

In our populist age, right-wing ideologues have managed to move in high circles, by muting their overt racism and disguising their bigotry under a lot of smart patter. But they have also benefited from liberal elites' lofty disdain, which validates their narrative of victimization.

NEW YORK – Something many right-wing populists have in common is a peculiar form of self-pity: the feeling of being victimized by the liberal media, academics, intellectuals, “experts” – in short, by the so-called elites. The liberal elites, the populists proclaim, rule the world and dominate ordinary patriotic people with an air of lofty disdain.

This is in many ways an old-fashioned view. Liberals, or leftists, do not dominate politics any more. And the influence that great left-of-center newspapers, like The New York Times, once had has long been eclipsed by radio talk-show hosts, rightwing cable TV stations, tabloid newspapers (largely owned by Rupert Murdoch in the English-speaking world), and social media.

Influence, however, is not the same thing as prestige. The great newspapers, like the great universities, still enjoy a higher status than the more popular press, and the same goes for higher learning. TheSun or Bild lack the esteem of the Financial Times or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and evangelical colleges in rural parts of the US cannot compete in terms of cachet with Harvard or Yale.

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