By Travis Waldron

The elite media still can’t figure out how to call right-wing authoritarians what they are.

These are confusing times for the establishment media. Fascism is on the hoof, and the liberal order and its various shibboleths are under threat, among them the very notion of a free press. But how to get a handle on such a phenomenon? How does one report objectively on the cannon being pointed at one’s head?

One way would be to pretend that the cannon isn’t a cannon. That’s what we saw on Twitter Sunday night after Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest democracy, elected a neo-fascist as its new president.

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman, is by any reasonable definition an authoritarian, a fascist and a potential dictator. He praises dictatorships and says the only problem with previous dictators is that they didn’t kill enough. He has called for killing his political opponents and said last week that he would “cleanse” Brazil of leftists, who would have no choice but to “leave or go to jail.” He calls immigrants “scum” and said members of Afro-Brazilian communities aren’t suitable for pro-creation, wants police to kill alleged criminals on sight and chose a running mate who refuses to rule out a return of military rule. His entire political career is built on violent rhetoric aimed at Brazil’s most marginalized peoples.

These are all objectively fascist, authoritarian, autocratic things to say, and Bolsonaro’s long history of espousing such sentiment suggests they are a good bet to become the fascist, authoritarian, autocratic things he will do.

And yet after the returns were in, the elite press, which we’re told is very committed to objectivity, started hemming and hawing its way around the election of a president who would gladly shutter their operations and throw them all in prison if he could.

Bolsonaro is a “divisive populist,” The New York Times said, jamming a euphemism and a category error together, the latter premised on the idea that populism is nothing more than a matter of coarse rhetoric. (As with Donald Trump, Bolsonaro’s “populist” gestures served mainly to distract from the support he was consolidating among the reactionary fancy classes.) Read more here: