A Knight in Sheep’s Clothing: Media Framing of the Alt-Right Can Alter the Image of Racist Groups

Burton Speakman, Kennesaw State University


The Alt-Right increased its national profile during the 2016 presidential election based on its support of Donald Trump. This research becomes more salient with the media continuing to face similar challenges in framing far-right groups. The Alt-Right, like other Far Right groups worldwide, has moderated their framing to hide racist ideology. Therefore, the challenge of this article is to learn if the media allow newer far-right conservative groups to self-frame even against the advice from the Associated Press. This study uses qualitative framing analysis through grounded theory to review the coverage of the Alt-Right as a manner of examining if the group was successful in advancing its desired frames into mainstream media coverage. The results of this study suggest overall the Alt-Right was successful in reducing a direct discussion about the racist beliefs of the group within press coverage. This study continues in the tradition of framing studies of the past yet moves the genre forward as journalists negotiate increasing polarised and fragmented political communication.