Delegitimizing the media? Analyzing politicians' media criticism on social media

Jana Laura Egelhofer*, Loes Aaldering, Sophie Lecheler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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A growing literature on the impact of “fake news“accusations on legacy news outlets suggests that the use of this term is part of a much larger trend of increased and delegitimizing media criticism by political actors. However, so far, there is very little empirical evidence on how prevailing politicians' delegitimizing media criticism really is and under which conditions it occurs. To fill these gaps, we present results of a content analysis of media-related Facebook postings by Austrian and German politicians in 2017 (N=2,921). The results suggest that media criticism, in general, is actually rare and that about half of it can be described as delegitimizing (i.e., characterized by incivility or absence of argumentation). Most often, media criticism is used by populist politicians, who accuse “the media” in general of bias and falsehoods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-675
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number5
Early online date15 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded (“Förderungsstipendium”)

Publisher Copyright:
© John Benjamins Publishing Company

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Content analysis
  • Delegitimization
  • Fake news
  • Media criticism
  • Populist communication
  • Social media


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