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Let’s Not Put A Label On It: Right-Wing Terrorism in the News

Journal Abstract

Critical Studies on Terrorism

Media portrayals of terrorism, particularly right-wing terrorism, have been understudied. In response, this study focuses on understanding how right-wing terrorism is portrayed by the New York Times and the Washington Post. A qualitative content analysis was conducted on five cases. Framing theory and thematic analysis were used to inform the research methods. Four main themes emerge: “officially, we cannot be sure this was terrorism”; “just a man – the obfuscation of motive”; “on normalisation and humanisation”; and “eventually we have to talk about gun policy.” The results show that the news providers did not label these cases as terrorism, and that the ideology of the attackers was minimised as a motive. By searching so extensively for “other reasons” for the violence, the threat of right-wing violence was minimised. As a result of these incomplete or misleading portrayals, the threat from these individuals goes unchecked.


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