ThinkProgress has had enough of the PR gimmick that is the “alt-right” and have made it official policy to simply call them what they actually are: white nationalists.
A reporter’s job is to describe the world as it is, with clarity and accuracy. Use of the term “alt-right,” by concealing overt racism, makes that job harder.
This is a bigger deal than it first appears. One of the reasons that Donald won the election is that the media worked very very hard to downplay his very very obvious direct appeals to white nationalists. Donald has retweeted virulent white supremacists dozens of times. People have thrown Nazi salutes and slogans at his rallies. But you’d hardly know it from the milquetoast coverage it received compared to Hillary’s emails. If you’re not sure how big a deal this should have been, try to picture the mass hysteria if President Obama had retweeted Louis Farrakhan even once. We’d still be talking about it a decade from now.
But the most egregious journalistic sin has been the speed with which the “liberal” media has embraced the rebranding of white nationalism as the “alt-right”. It’s perfect. It allows them to discuss the core of Donald’s movement without ever mentioning the fact that it’s based entirely on pure racism.
This has allowed the “liberal” media to openly discuss the views of white nationalists as if they were just another mainstream political movement instead of the sick fringe of right wing politics. CNN actually had the following text on their screen a few days ago about Richard Spencer, a top leader of the white nationalist movement:
ALT-RIGHT FOUNDER QUESTIONS IF JEWS ARE PEOPLE
First, Richard Spencer did not found the alt-right, he simply repackaged white nationalism to hide its identity. Second, this is precisely what normalizing white nationalism looks like. CNN legitimized the statement just by putting it on the air. And that’s the problem with the media’s love affair with the “Alt-right” label; it removes the well known racist context of white nationalism and makes it seem like just another part of normal conservative politics. But none of this is normal and we can’t allow it to become normal.
The media has already spent decades perfecting the art of not discussing the clear racist intent behind the GOP’s Southern Strategy but this represents a dangerous escalation of willful ignorance. ThinkProgress is absolutely right that no media outlet should allow white nationalists to rebrand themselves:
The point here is not to call people names, but simply to describe them as they are. We won’t do racists’ public relations work for them. Nor should other news outlets.
We can only hope that this call from ThinkProgress does not fall on deaf ears but if CNN is any indication, we can look forward to four more years of having white nationalism broadcast into our homes under a veneer of respectability.
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I’m a stay at home dad, father to a special needs son and a special daughter, a donor baby daddy, a militantly pragmatic liberal, the president of the PTA, a hardcore geek and nerd and I’m going to change the world. Or at least my corner of it.