There is a breed of political reporter that thrives on misanthropy. These journalists have no use for empathy when trying to understand issues or individuals. They are only stimulated by acrimony, by the need to reveal the darkest impulses of human endeavor. H.L. Mencken, the most eloquent of this ilk, once wrote that “there is actually no truth to be discovered … only error to be exposed.” Hunter Thompson, the most scabrous, said, “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught.”

In light of his now infamous article for Shukan Asahi about Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, former Yomiuri Shimbun reporter Shinichi Sano seems to aspire to membership in this club. Sano makes no attempt to hide his enmity toward Hashimoto, whom he characterizes as a small-hearted opportunist, a lawyer who spun a backstory of up-from-poverty success into a career as a shameless self-promoter and demagogue. He likens TV’s fascination with Hashimoto to that of a cult in thrall to some charismatic charlatan, and in the tradition of the misanthropic press implies that the masses are stupid for showing anything but contempt for the mayor. He compares Hashimoto to another recent populist, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, but whereas Koizumi’s statements and actions revealed “an antic belief system,” Hashimoto’s reveal nothing except “an animal compulsion” to be liked. As for his political supporters, Sano calls them “scavengers, scum.”

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