In her essay Neoliberalism and the end of liberal democracy', Wendy Brown suggests that critical political theory needs to mourn liberal democracy' in order to develop a transformative vision of the good'. The problem, as Brown outlines it, is not only that - to varying extents and in different scales across democratic states - market rationality has hollowed out representative structures and processes and organizes social life but also that basic principles and institutions of democracy are becoming nothing other than ideological shells' that nevertheless legitimate neoliberal governmentality. Brown's concept of mourning has implications for Media Studies' constitutive focus on publicness and political participation within the democratic nation-state. This article considers Brown's critique in relation to the tendency in Media Studies to admit the unachievable idealism of certain ideas - particularly in relation to the public sphere and pluralism - while continuing to use them as guiding normative standards and values. The article questions how such normative ideals can provide guidance where not only the political and institutional imaginary that underpins them has changed, perhaps irrevocably, but where the continued flagging of these ideas may be implicated in the kind of ideological camouflage Brown identifies.