Framing counter-protest: US newspaper representations of antifa and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally

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Protest paradigm theory explains the tactics that the news media, in support of the status quo and the manufacture of consent, employ in their coverage of protest. The goal of this thesis is to gain an understanding of the current applicability of the protest paradigm, learn about its application to protest movements of differing levels of militancy and extremism, and its application in situations where protest movements oppose other (extremist) movements. To this goal, the application of the protest paradigm by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to their online coverage of the antifa and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters at the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally will be analyzed. The thesis follows the five mechanics of the protest paradigm as laid out by Douglas M. McLeod and James K. Hertog. The findings show that both antifa and BLM counter-protesters face differing levels of marginalization, delegitimization, and demonization through application of the protest paradigm. Antifa, as the more extremist of the two movements, is, however, subjected to the protest paradigm more consistently and severely and the protest paradigm is thus proven to remain relevant in the current political climate. The effect of antifa and BLM counterprotesters’ opposition to far-right protesters on the application of the protest paradigm remains uncertain.
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