On Sunday, The Los Angeles Times tweeted interviews with the prominent alt-right figure Richard Spencer, and promptly received backlash. The comments on Twitter raised a wider debate about how the media may be normalizing white supremacy given that Donald Trump is now president-elect.
Some Twitter users erupted into a fury over this and an older Mother Jones interview with Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute. The Washington, D.C.-based organization is known to be a white nationalist think tank which promotes hate as a movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The L.A. Times tweet was accompanied with a photo of Spencer looking stereotypically “cool,” replete with retro black sunglasses, slicked hair, and arms crossed. Is the L.A. Times guilty of trying to make a neo-Nazi look sexy? Many argue yes.
@latimes Did you just profile a white nationalist, racist, misogynistic political party like it's some hot new startup? What the hell?— David Chartier (@chartier) November 21, 2016
Similarly, the Mother Jones had tweeted a picture of Spencer along with a caption which referred to him as “dapper,” but later deleted it. Published before the election, the Mother Jones’ profile of Spencer offers an affirming look into Spencer’s life and history — despite the fact that he promotes racism and animosity towards minorities.
Many reactions on Twitter condemned this narrative that the media is portraying. The media’s intentional oversight of the racist ideologies driving white supremacists such as Spencer is frightening.
media is covering groups who want minorities dead like they're unions or chamber of commerce and we're going to die https://t.co/bW66d6cv3w— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 21, 2016
MEDIA post-TRUMP: Trust us, subscribe to us, we will protect America.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) November 21, 2016
Literal Nazis come to town: Meet the men making Hitler sexy. https://t.co/wNXarXkQgz
Then there's the @MotherJones piece: "Spencer has managed to ... give overt racism a new veneer of radical chic."— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) November 21, 2016
Journalists in the 60s realized racism/discrimination were empirically evil and reported accordingly. This OTOH... https://t.co/1peT9AfPIg— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 21, 2016
While it once seemed obvious that the media's role was to mark political and social dissent with a red flag, in Trump's America it appears that the opposite might be happening. Of course, not all major media outlets are guilty of promoting the alt-right, but readers must be vigilant and wary of which sources they receive their news from.
Banner photo credit: Twitter, @latimes