Over the past few months, The Listening Post has examined populist, right-wing political movements on the rise - like the National Front in France - and the kind of news coverage they've attracted. This week, we look at Spain's left-wing political party Podemos and its issues with the mainstream media.

Podemos is Spanish for "we can". The party is barely three years old and it's already Spain's third-largest. Its leader, Pablo Iglesias, doesn't look like your typical Spanish politician. And Podemos' anti-austerity/anti-establishment platform was destined to get a hostile reception from Spain's mainstream media outlets, most of which lean to the right.

That hostile attitude towards Podemos should be taken as a positive sign since this hostile treatment comes from them being regarded as a threat.

Enric Marin, professor, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

From 2014 onwards, Podemos made a series of electoral breakthroughs and the tone of media coverage switched from curiosity to alarm.

The party was described as undemocratic, with economically unsound policies, posing a threat to Spanish unity. And Podemos was reported to be connected to governments the Spanish media disapprove of.

"We are among the very few who have consistently warned about the lack of democratic principles in Podemos," says Bieito Rubido, editor-in-chief, ABC newspaper.

"We stand up for freedom, Podemos doesn't; we stand for a free market economy, Podemos doesn't; we stand for the unity of Spain, Podemos doesn't. So it makes sense that we clash on these issues."

"We have a document that proves the Chavista regime gave Podemos over $7m. Deciding whether the funding is irregular or not is a question for the courts. It is absurd for Podemos to pretend that the money from Venezuela is non-existent," explains Rubido.

ABC, Antena 3 and other media outlets also reported on Podemos being paid by Venezuela.

"Many members of Podemos have been to court at least 10 or 12 times to face charges, some plainly absurd, others based on false evidence," says Podemos cofounder Juan Carlos Monedero.

"We have won 100 percent of the cases. The charges have all been lies. However, the lack of truth doesn't seem to matter, because when they criticise you, it's in the headlines and the talk shows. When the judges say there is no case against you, nobody reports it," he adds.

Overall, media coverage of the party has concentrated on stories of corruption; the kind of political company Podemos keeps. The party has even been accused of plotting to destroy Spanish democracy.

Few in Podemos have been surprised by the hostile coverage from commentators and outlets on the political right. What Podemos did not see coming was the treatment it gets from El Pais, a centre-left paper that is the most-widely circulated in Spain. It has presented Podemos as radical and its policies dangerous.

"El Pais has become more and more hostile towards what it considers to be threats to the status quo - namely Podemos and the Catalan independence movement ... which could really change the balance of forces within the political establishment," says Professor Enric Marin at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

While its dust-ups with Spanish media continue, Podemos has kept chipping away at what it calls the status quo narrative. The party still churns out the weekly broadcast that got it started: Le Tuerka.

"That hostile attitude towards Podemos should be taken as a positive sign since this hostile treatment comes from them being regarded as a threat," says Marin.

Contributors:
Juan Carlos Monedero, cofounder of Podemos
Enric Marin, professor, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Bieito Rubido, editor-in-chief, ABC newspaper
David Alandete, managing editor, El Pais

Source: Al Jazeera