Chon Noriega, PhD, and Francisco Javier Iribarren, MSW-PsyD, just completed a pilot study on hate speech and commercial talk radio at UCLA. Their study used the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) definition of hate speech and sought to develop a way to quantifiably measure the occurrence of hate speech in commercial talk radio.
The researchers asked themselves what role, if any, the media plays in the persistence of hate speech and hate crimes. The pilot focused on three radio programs: The Lou Dobbs Show, The Savage Nation, and The John & Ken Show.
Noriega and Iribarren concluded, "The preliminary analysis reveals a systematic and extensive use of false facts, flawed argumentation, divisive language, and dehumanizing metaphors that are directed toward specific vulnerable groups. Thus far, the data show a recurring rhetorical pattern in which vulnerable groups were identified as antithetical to the core values attributed by the host to himself, his audience, and the nation. These groups were then linked to social institutions that were presented as complicit. In effect, target groups are characterized as a direct threat to the listeners' way of life."
Noriega and Iribarren have published their preliminary findings in UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center's February Latino Policy & Issues Brief.
We have been writing about hate speech on commercial talk radio for more than one year, so the pilot findings are almost intuitive to us. We are gratified to know that this academic, independent study affirms the work that NCLR has been doing, and we are hopeful that it will have an impact not only in academia, but also on mainstream discourse.