Smithsonian Magazine is subtweeting at the top of its lungs about the role of U.S. press coverage in the rise of Benino Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, compared to 2016 with the rise of autocratic lunatic Donald Trump.
There are many parallels in how the media covered Hitler and Mussolini and how they covered Trump. They sought to normalize all three men. For example, there is talk of Trump keeping a private security detail when he goes to the White House in addition to the U. S. Secret Service. That’s akin to Hitler’s Schutzstaffel, or “Protection Squadron.”
Smithsonian Magazine: “The Saturday Evening Post even serialized Il Duce’s autobiography in 1928. Acknowledging that the new “Fascisti movement” was a bit “rough in its methods,” papers ranging from the New York Tribune to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Chicago Tribune credited it with saving Italy from the far left and revitalizing its economy. From their perspective, the post-WWI surge of anti-capitalism in Europe was a vastly worse threat than Fascism.”
“Ironically, while the media acknowledged that Fascism was a new “experiment,” papers like The New York Times commonly credited it with returning turbulent Italy to what it called “normalcy.”
Mussolini’s success in Italy normalized Hitler’s success in the eyes of the American press who, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, routinely called him “the German Mussolini.” Given Mussolini’s positive press reception in that period, it was a good place from which to start. Hitler also had the advantage that his Nazi party enjoyed stunning leaps at the polls from the mid ’20’s to early ’30’s, going from a fringe party to winning a dominant share of parliamentary seats in free elections in 1932.
But the main way that the press defanged Hitler was by portraying him as something of a joke. He was a “nonsensical” screecher of “wild words” whose appearance, according to Newsweek, “suggests Charlie Chaplin.” His “countenance is a caricature.” He was as “voluble” as he was “insecure,” stated Cosmopolitan.
The mainstream media seems to be following the same playbook the press used to covered Mussolini and Hitler in their coverage of Trump. They are trying to normalize his rise by saying he’s appealing to working class Americans, when the opposite is true. Donald Trump’s rise has emboldened white supremacists to try going mainstream. He even has the face of the alt-right movement, Steve Bannon, in his incoming cabinet.
How journalists covered the rise of Mussolini and Hitler. https://t.co/jhaz2iqhcM
— Smithsonian Magazine (@SmithsonianMag) December 27, 2016