Framing Ferguson: Fox News and the Construction of US Racism

Mills, Colleen E
Race & class

In August 2014, police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed Michael Brown, sparking months of protests in Ferguson, Missouri and other American cities and capturing worldwide media attention. This article presents a critical discourse analysis of Fox News Channel’s segments from August 2014 to March 2015. It systematically uncovers themes and larger discourses within five major areas: blaming black victims in the characterisation of Michael Brown and his shooting death, blaming black leaders, blaming the black community, attacking the black protesters and their movement against police brutality, and discrediting attempts to address issues of racism as the ‘politics of racial division’. Several major emergent discourses include: the criminal black (wo)man, blaming the victim, projection of racism on minorities, denial and counterattack, minimisation of racism, redistributing responsibility, personal responsibility, and deadbeat dads and unwed mothers. The author argues that Fox News in perpetuating these racist discourses helps to obstruct the addressing of racism in the criminal justice system.