Political Scandals as a Democratic Challenge: From Important Revelations to Provocations, Trivialities, and Neglect — Introduction
This Introduction provides the conceptual and theoretical context for a Special Section on political scandals in the International Journal of Communication. Mediated political scandals are a worldwide phenomenon and are not limited to liberal democracies only. A main aim of this Special Section, drawing on articles and studies about scandals in the U.S., China, and Europe, is to discuss the mediation of scandals in countries with different political institutions and media systems. We point to the contradictory status of journalism as an important “watchdog” institution for democracy, holding leaders to account, and a “scandal machine” that often ignores serious political misdeeds and inflates the importance of trivial norm violations. Another aim of this Special Section, discussed in the Introduction, is to shed some light on the effects of political scandals on both the individual and institutional levels.