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Conservative newspapers took advantage of Covid-19 for weakening the government

  • The Two Cultures Observatory (O2C)
  • February 16th, 2023
 Conservative newspapers took advantage of Covid-19 for weakening the government
Foto: Tim Mossholer - Usplash

A study of The Two Cultures Observatory analyse the editorials published during the coronavirus crisis in the main Spanish newspapers and show the progressive instrumentalization of the pandemic.

The pandemic was object of a strong politicisation by the main Spanish newspapers, strengthening political tension, and leaving in the background medical and scientific aspects. This is proved by the study of The Two Cultures Observatory group that has been recently published in the Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies journal.


Politicised pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is the worst crisis that the world has faced in the last decades. Specially, Spain has been one of most affected countries by the pandemic. This study analyses the approach on the coverage of the health crisis in the opinion genres through the analysis of 243 editorials published in four major Spanish newspapers (El País, El Mundo, ABC and La Razón) from January 2020 to August 2021.

The main discourses on the pandemic in the Covid-19 editorials analysed have focused on the political debate, leaving aside other aspects of a medical and scientific nature. In the analysed sample, this polarisation and belligerence is especially important, since the texts are press editorials considered of reference. Despite that, while El País editorials adopt an explicative approach, with calls for agreement and cooperation to face the pandemic and recovery and with an eye on Europe, the most conservative newspapers, especially El Mundo, choose an openly combative style against the current government.

In this way, the health crisis becomes a battering ram for attacking the government and trying its destabilisation. Editorials analysis allow to verify until what extent journalism is abandoning its monitoring role and becoming another actor, with demands and expectations further from neutrality. It is truth that negative campaigns in newspapers are not new in politics. However, several authors distinguish between required criticism and the insult based on ad hominem attacks.

This analysis shows a continued attack to government by some newspapers in a health emergency context during which, apart from the editorial line, citizens should have been provided with data and keys to interpret a complex and changing international crisis situation. The excessively biased interpretation of the facts in editorials may have contributed to polarisation, instead of helping to provide a balanced view of the context.


Mateu, A., Sapiña, L., & Domínguez, M. (2022). The pandemic as a political weapon: Analysis of Spanish press editorials during the COVID-19 health crisis. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, 14, 225-247.