Character Assassination and Populism:
Challenges and Responses
March 15-17, 2019
One primary characteristic of today’s global society is the growing public distrust in many traditional authorities. In the context of institutional legitimacy crisis, there is a great demand for new voices to trust. These changes provide opportunities for populists and charismatic opinion leaders of all kinds to promote their agendas and influence public opinion. Populist politicians often become primary newsmakers for clickbait content in the media that proliferates personal opinions, falsehoods, and unwarranted ad hominem attacks. Belligerent rhetoric also normalizes the culture of incivility which has negative consequences for civil debate in a well-functioning democracy.
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