As anyone who has been paying attention knows all too well, the media play a front-and-center role in how a political narrative develops and is deployed. To that point, take a look at this informative and semi-scholarly article on how American media, in the 1920s and 1930s, reported on – and largely normalized – the rise to power and the governments of Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. Pay particular attention to some of the portrayals of Hitler.
[T]he main way that the press defanged Hitler was by portraying him as something of a joke. He was a “nonsensical” screecher of “wild words” whose appearance, according to Newsweek, “suggests Charlie Chaplin.” His “countenance is a caricature.” He was as “voluble” as he was “insecure,” stated Cosmopolitan.
Nor did there seem to be much concern over the consequences should Hitler actually assume leadership of Germany:
[M]any American press outlets judged that he would either be outplayed by more traditional politicians or that he would have to become more moderate. Sure, he had a following, but his followers were “impressionable voters” duped by “radical doctrines and quack remedies,” claimed the Washington Post. Now that Hitler actually had to operate within a government the “sober” politicians would “submerge” this movement, according to The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor.
At times like these, the Chimps find solace in the wise counsel of that great diplomat and wordsmith George W. Bush, who observed that “[t]here’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.'”
Unless, of course, you can.