Two of the world’s political leaders in the early decades of the Twenty-First Century, Donald Trump in the United States and Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom, owe their rise to the highest echelons of government through the forging of their public media persona. Trump’s ascendance came through The Apprentice, Johnson’s from his appearances on Have I got News for You and journalism. Emanating from the Thatcher and Reagan free-market and deregulation modus operandi, Trump and Johnson, along with Alan Sugar in the UK, deepened the rise of enterprise culture on public television within British and American neoliberal contexts that mobilized media spectacles for the purposes of blurring distinctions between entertainment, business, and politics. Crafting self-branded personas as ‘men of the people,’ they adopted and promoted a macho-entrepreneurial ethos and the masculine characteristics frequently ascribed to right-wing male populist leaders. Their tenures evoke gendered readings of populism for themselves and those they inspire, such as Katie Hopkins and Michelle Dewberry, which challenge simplistic understandings about gender and female right-wing populism; they also illustrate the dangers of the strong populist male leader.
|Place of Publication
|Accepted/In press - 4 Sept 2020