Civility, Subversion and Technocratic Class Consciousness: Reconstituting Truth in the Journalistic Field

  • Olivier JutelEmail author


American journalism’s preoccupation with fake news, civility and subversion in the aftermath of Trump represents an attempt by the journalistic field (Bourdieu, 1998 & 2005) to re-articulate its cultural capital as the technocratic arbiter of Truth. American liberalism has retreated into techno-metaphors of the social which attribute Trump’s ability to circumvent the disciplines of journalistic fact-checking or civic norms as a corruption of communicative networks in the form of fake news, hacking and data breaches. The disproportionate concern for Russian subversion of democratic processes perpetuates the technocratic illusion of data-informed mastery over contingent political forces and “truth”. In disavowing the field’s role in the rise of Trump, an embattled “Resistance” habitus akin to Edward R. Murrow has emerged in order to cast the crisis as a battle for decency, civility and a patriotic centre against the subversive outside (Muhlman, 2008). The field restages past battles as a performative invocation of former glories to engender the forms of urgent affective media prosumption (Jutel, 2017) that are at the heart of fake news economies. The cost of “saving” truth and the field of journalism is the subsumption of its autonomy to the field of power as national security entrepreneurs, think tanks and research centres all offer the fantasy of divining foreign subversion within communicative networks. This techno-solutionism (Morozov, 2014) and civility fetish is necessary to avoid an antagonistic political articulation of truth, what Bourdieu terms an ‘idée-force’ (2005: 39), that would force a traumatic confrontation with the field’s own complicity in the rise of Trump.


Donald Trump Politics Liberalism Civility Psychoanalysis 



For Tony Schirato a friend and great Bourdiuian.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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