Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies Khadijah White recently published her first book, which focuses on the Tea Party as an example of political branding, and of the media’s role in influencing the growth of grassroots organizations.
Khadijah White, assistant professor of journalism and media studies at SC&I, recently published her first book, “The Branding of Right-Wing Activism: The News Media and the Tea Party.” The book not only focuses on “the rise of the Tea Party in online, print, broadcast, and cable news,” but also how media helps grassroots organizations grow and attract the audiences they do, White said.
“The Branding of Right-Wing Activism” grew from research White began for her doctoral dissertation, and following the time she spent as a White House Intern during President Obama’s administration. Her time as an intern aligned with the rise of the right-wing political organization known as the Tea Party. The Tea Party was one of the most talked about political organizations at the time, however, White said, it was unclear to her who, and what, they were exactly.
As she researched the Tea Party, and how they grew in size and power, she noticed the large role the media played in the spread of their message. She noticed that when the public talks about far-right political organizations and ideas, it tends to “focus on specific xenophobic news sources that promote racist discourse” when really it isn’t just these news sources that do this. “A lot of the other media outlets that we see and trust can participate in the promotion of these ideas as well,” which makes the influence of these grassroots organizations greater, White said.
White said the American political right is very effective at developing political branding. She uses the Tea Party as an example of this, and how their marketing tendencies have “shifted focus from actual policies on the ground” to racist and xenophobic messaging. She noted how the Tea Party is “more than a grassroots organization that grew,” rather it was strategic marketing and branding that made them become so influential so quickly.
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