Watchdog documents radio-talk echo chamber


NHMC / National Hispanic Media CoalitionThe National Hispanic Media Coalition says that radio talkers not only breed hate with their on-air content – it then spreads to the internet to the detriment of “ethnic, racial, religious groups and the LGBT community.”

NHMC studied the social media spreading effect of content heard on five programs: The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show, The Glenn Beck Program, The Savage Nation, and The John and Ken Show, and published its results in a report called “Social Networks for Hate Speech.”

“Our study found that the ideological content of conservative talk radio has helped cultivate a social network built around talk radio hosts and their guests,” said Alex Nogales, NHMC President & CEO. “This social network targets vulnerable groups in content that is spread across affiliated social media web sites.  The result is an echo-chamber of voices, both online and off, that promotes hatred against ethnic, racial, religious groups and the LGBT community on social media web sites.”

It said Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks and Fox News were prime venues for the material in question, and noted the lack of alternative viewpoints available during the programming.

NHMC said it spent 18 months on the project, which yielded the following results:
* The social network of hate speech propagates a narrow set of priorities, such as messaging that often includes anti-immigration and anti-Islamic focuses.

* In this highly insular network, immigrants are routinely referred to as “illegal” and law-breaking, while Islam is portrayed within the context of terrorism.

* An overwhelming proportion of scheduled guests on these shows were white (89 percent) and male (81 percent), matching the race and gender of the hosts.

* Political figures who appeared as guests were largely members of the Republican Party (93 percent) and/or affiliated with the Tea Party movement (89 percent).

* The top five ideological positions of scheduled guests were determined to be anti-federalist (23.6 percent), pro-Republican (19.1 percent), pro-Tea Party Movement (12.1 percent), anti-Islamic (11.1 percent) and anti-immigration (8.5 percent).
* Though 88 topics of interest were identified, immigration emerged as the most discussed topic, dominating nearly one-quarter (23.9 percent) of all topic segments.

The study is a collaboration between NHMC and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC). Nogales said compiling statistics was a necessary step toward understanding the problem. “Thanks to Dr. Chon Noriega and his team at CSRC, we now have a roadmap of studies that clarify the components of hate speech: the targeted groups, the types of statements used against them, and now the social network that propagates the hate.”