In multi-ethnic societies, the use of the public speech as an instance of power and representation at a symbolic level and in reality is a good “test of truth” to see how racial discrimination exists, subsists and is expressed. In this, media plays a crucial role because it is not only a stage, but also an echo of public discourse, producer and reproducer of the collective imagination.
At a time when, in Portuguese society, the veneer of social shame in assuming ideological affiliation to racism and fascism has definitely and transversely broken out, when many “good” people are not shy about showing their racism, media has unfortunately become a stage of affirmation and normalization of hate speech. Structural racism found institutional support with the election of a racist deputy to the Parliament, that makes rhetorical and digital manipulation a political weapon to which it drags conventional media. The increasingly blurred boundaries between opinion and information in mainstream media has given am ample space to hate speech, contributing to its amplification and trivialization. Gross racism and shameless xenophobia, contrary to what is generally conveyed, are no longer the prerogative of uneducated and poor people who would act out of ignorance. The duty of reserve of State servants or the observance of principles of non-discrimination in the exercise of public functions are no longer obstacles to the public manifestation of hate speech that manages to find space in conventional media.
In the competition with social media and the dispute for audiences, conventional media allowed the expansion of cyber armies behind the digital curtain that, without shame or fear of ethical censorship, spread hatred. It is not by accident that reactionary and ultraconservative forces invest in the political manipulation industry, through fake news, name-calling, intimidation and threats, profile stalking and wanton privacy, because they know that the click bait fever has taken over the traditional media.
As long as information is not seen as a public good, with democratic value and not just as a mere commercial product, or as long as freedom of expression is not based on the responsibility of not allowing debasement and violence, hate speech will fuel the dispute for audiences whose sole purpose is to defend profits and not ethical and moral values. The return of ideological identification to white supremacy within the mainstream press, coupled with the commodification of the information service, has contributed greatly to the normalization, trivialization and legitimization of hate speech in the press.