The essay examines the role of the press of Liberal orientation in front of the rise of Fascist squads. After the First World War the role of the newspaper is deemed crucial by politicians, publishers and journalists. The rising awareness of the importance of newspapers, within the context of a difficult post-war transition, contributed to the radicalisation of liberal newspapers. An anti-Socialist legacy, combined with Union busting, joined with the new nationalistic wave which was emphasised by military victory. The hostility against Socialism turned into a kind of showdown after the appearance of Fascist squads, to which the major Italian newspapers (Corriere della sera, Giornale d’Italia, La Tribuna) offered their support. They depicted the Fascist movement mainly as a phenomenon in continuity with the Liberal state and ideology, never as an external one. Its violent expressions were either not mentioned, or dis-torted, or even justified. While Fascist press showed off the cases of threats and violence, the Liberal one tended to conceal them, thereby favouring in silence a shift of opinion towards Fascism. Liberal journalists, then, observed middle-class public opinion becoming motionless or angry, in both cases ready to move towards Fascism. An autonomous fascistizzazione of Liberal press was, in fact, realized even before the march on Rome, in a process that involved also local newspapers.
Keywords: Liberal Italy, press and public opinion, opinion makers, civil war, Fascism and political violence, local newspapers