Tell NBC: don’t normalize white nationalists !
NBC has been covering the so-called “alt-right” without explaining who they really are: white nationalists and white supremacists.
The term "alt-right" is intentionally used to cover hate speech in a cloak of respectability. By adopting this term instead of the more accurate "white nationalism", NBC reinforces and legitimizes an ideology of hatred. One that says that citizenship, dignity, and rights should belong exclusively to white men.
Our communities have fought and organized for too long to allow the media to normalize neo-nazi rhetoric. That’s why we’re telling NBC to stop using the term “alt-right.” Since the election, they've gone overboard with creating a Trump normalization machine to validate the hateful rhetoric of the illegitimate President-Elect and his supporters.1 And this goesdirectly against the guidelines that the Associated Press: the standard-setter for American journalism, has outlined for media.2
Because the term is fairly new, it allows the message of white nationalism and populism to spread under a new name--rebranding the horrors of white supremacy for an audience hungry to be a part of Trump’s racist, misogynist America. And it's not like Trump's direct tie to the rebranding of white nationalism is a secret--after all, his senior advisor, Stephen Bannon is a known architect of the "alt-right" movement.3 Yet NBC continues to use the term, deliberately ignoring the standards that other outlets are following.That's why it's more important than ever that we hold them accountable for their normalization of Trump and his white nationalist rhetoric.
NBC has been especially egregious in their normalization of Trump's white nationalist-influenced campaign and public persona. After public outcry, they announced that they would be severing a business relationship with Trump due to values of equity and inclusion. But just weeks later, after the tides turned in Trump's favor, they allowed him to host Saturday Night Live, kept him on as a paid producer of the "Apprentice", refused to release "Apprentice" tapes where producers revealed he had used the "n-word", and even featured him on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" where Fallon petted his hair and conducted a jokey, pleasant interview where there was little mention of his rampant racism, misogyny, and anti-Muslim rhetoric. We need news outlets that stick to their guns when it comes to rejecting hateful values and delivering accurate media, not networks that will easily change their values to curry favor with the powerful.
This new branding of white supremacy isn’t an accident. Instead of calling this political movement rife with white nationalism, misogyny, and anti-Semitism: “white nationalism”, its leaders have developed intentionally vague language to fuel this movement of hate.4 White nationalists have been working overtime to appeal to middle-class white Americans.They’ve taken off their hooded white robes and slipped into clean-cut suits-- intentionally separating themselves from poor whites with a full rebranding of neo-nazi values with coded haircuts, expensive watches, and prestigious educations.5
But, we can’t let this new, acceptable-seeming white nationalism slink its way back into popular consciousness. For decades, Black folks have fought to de-normalize white supremacy--organizing for fair employment, housing, and anti-discrimination legislation.
Now, Americans have elected a president who's installing white nationalist leadership in the White House and making white supremacy mainstream again--Trump hasn’t even been inaugurated yet and already, hate crimes have risen to a level not seen since 9/11.6 And NBC is a conspirator in this mainstream white supremacy when they allow white nationalism rebrand itself. We’ve fought too hard.
The media must be accountable for their power to dictate the language we use and the ideas that we discuss.But so far, NBC has relished in the sensationalism and rating bonanzas that Trump’s outrageous misogyny and racism have brought the networks. It’s been reported that Donald Trump received an estimated $2 billion of free media.7 And in turn, NBC has profited, with primetime viewership on MSNBC up 50%.8 With the lives of so many at stake, we cannot allow NBC to play the middle.
By continuing to the use the term “alt-right” and not “white nationalist” or “white supremacist”, NBC is choosing a side.Instead of honoring cherished journalistic values of transparency and honesty, they’re choosing to feed into the white supremacist PR machine.
The stakes are too high. As Black folks, Muslims, Latinos, and the LGBTQ community fear for their lives in the wake of emboldened white supremacists, NBC must be clear and integral in their reporting of hate group ideology. They must “call a spade a spade”, and stop normalizing a hate-fuelled movement that seeks to harm us.
Until justice is real,
Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Anika, Jade, Evan, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team
“NBC Is Building A Trump Normalization Machine.” Media Matters, 4 January 2017.
"News Outlets Rethink Usage of the Term 'Alt-Right.'" The New York Times, 28 November 2016.
"Fear rises that Bannon could bring the "alt-right" into White House." Politico, 14 November 2016.
“Alternative Right.” Southern Poverty Law Center.
“For the Alt Right, Dapper Suits Are A Propaganda Tool.” New York Magazine, 23 November 2016.
“Post-election spate of hate crimes worse than post-9/11, experts say.” USA Today, 14 November 2016.
“$2 Billion Worth of Free Media for Donald Trump.” The New York Times, 15 March 2016.
“Donald Trump May Hate the Media, But They Are Both Winners This Election.” Forbes, 10 November 2016.