Racial abuse, discrimination and the “bad version of nationalism” that promotes exclusion and hatred are on the rise, and the media may need to be regulated to help curtail the problem, European Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová warned today.
A “dangerous” version of nationalism is “not only visible in the rising popularity of the extreme parties” but is also evident in the political mainstream, which “accept[s] some part of this rhetoric of division,” the commissioner said in a speech in Vienna, according to pre-released notes obtained by Brussels Playbook.
Jourovà called on politicians and the press to take action.
“Media can build the culture of dialogue or sow divisions, spread disinformation and encourage exclusion,” the commissioner said. “The Brexit debate is the best example of that.” Politicians should “show responsibility” and “restraint,” and must “realize that their words become justification for some people to act on their urges and their fears.”
The Czech politician pointed to far-right protests in Chemnitz, the “anti-Soros campaign in Hungary or growing anti-Muslim or anti-Roma rhetoric” as examples of when “exclusion, discrimination and lack of respect for minorities have spilled over from the margins to the center and dont meet enough resistance from the media, politicians or opinion leaders.”
The media is “instrumental in holding politicians to account and in defining the limits of what is unacceptable in a society,” Jourová argued, before highlighting the front page of a British tabloid that labeled EU leaders “dirty rats.”
She also called for potential new regulation for the media, saying she would “advocate for a European approach to media based on quality and smart regulation, if needed,” adding that “we need to keep up our support for public broadcasters and independent media more broadly than just following the laws of markets.”