Lance Bennett

Communication and the Crisis of Democracy: Institutional Decline, Disinformation, and the Rise of the Radical Right

Many democratic nations are experiencing increased levels of false information circulating through social media and political websites that mimic journalism formats. In many cases, this disinformation is associated with the efforts of movements and parties on the radical right to mobilize supporters against center parties and the mainstream press that carries their messages.


“Who Are the People? Neoliberalism, the Media and the Rise of the Anti-Democratic Right”


  • Neoliberalism
  • Radical Right
  • Disinformation

The spread of disinformation…

be traced to growing legitimacy problems in many democracies. Declining citizen confidence in institutions undermines the credibility of official information in the news, and opens publics to alternative information sources.

Those sources are often associated with both nationalist (primarily radical right) and foreign (commonly Russian) strategies to undermine institutional legitimacy and destabilize center parties, governments, and elections.

The Brexit campaign in the U.K. and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S…

are among the most prominent examples of disinformation campaigns intended to disrupt normal democratic order, but many other nations display signs of disinformation and democratic disruption.

Rather than continue calling these developments “populism,” I suggest we find more meaningful concepts and theoretical frameworks for exploring these developments.