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Title

“You Are Either With Us or Against Us”: How Newspaper Coverage Shapes Our Perceptions of Terrorists

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Terrorism and mass media; Right-wing extremists--United States;

Abstract

Commencing in the 1980s, the United States experienced a rise in reactionary ideological sentiment, characterized recently as the “alternative right” (alt-right). A decade later, a wave of terrorist incidents on American soil commenced. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 of 2001 prompted President George W. Bush to throw down a gauntlet: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” His fiery speech on the night of the tragedy became a rallying point for alt-right extremists as they challenged the government to respond to the threat of foreign-based terrorism. In their fervor, the alt-right seemingly forgot that several terrorist attacks involving American-born perpetrators had also taken place in recent years. Has the alt-right’s myopia also found expression in media coverage about these attacks and their perpetrators? While several publications have investigated the link between terrorism and the mass media (the work of Brigitte Nacos is an outstanding example), none have offered a detailed assessment of contemporary newspaper reports about terrorist events in the United States. In this paper, I will explore the relationship between the rise of alternative-right ideology and way terror attacks have been framed in newspaper accounts of two major terrorist attacks—the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19 1995, and the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 2001.

Start Date

4-4-2017 1:00 PM

End Date

4-4-2017 4:30 PM

Faculty Advisor

Barbara Cutter

Department

Department of History

Comments

Location: Maucker Union Presidential Room

Embargo Date

4-4-2017

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Apr 4th, 1:00 PM Apr 4th, 4:30 PM

“You Are Either With Us or Against Us”: How Newspaper Coverage Shapes Our Perceptions of Terrorists

Commencing in the 1980s, the United States experienced a rise in reactionary ideological sentiment, characterized recently as the “alternative right” (alt-right). A decade later, a wave of terrorist incidents on American soil commenced. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 of 2001 prompted President George W. Bush to throw down a gauntlet: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” His fiery speech on the night of the tragedy became a rallying point for alt-right extremists as they challenged the government to respond to the threat of foreign-based terrorism. In their fervor, the alt-right seemingly forgot that several terrorist attacks involving American-born perpetrators had also taken place in recent years. Has the alt-right’s myopia also found expression in media coverage about these attacks and their perpetrators? While several publications have investigated the link between terrorism and the mass media (the work of Brigitte Nacos is an outstanding example), none have offered a detailed assessment of contemporary newspaper reports about terrorist events in the United States. In this paper, I will explore the relationship between the rise of alternative-right ideology and way terror attacks have been framed in newspaper accounts of two major terrorist attacks—the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19 1995, and the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 2001.