Neutralizing Protest: The Construction of War, Chaos, and National Identity through US Television News on Abortion-Related Protest, 1991

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Contribution to Books

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This paper examines how US TV news on abortion-related protest forecloses possibilities for democracy and political action. Representing abortion-related activism as a battle, news segments portray activists, correspondents, and viewers as villains, witnesses, and victims in a tale of a nation decimated by civil war. While activists describe their work militaristically, the news’s war is not the war that activists describe. News discourse represents activists as threatening the American family/community/nation. Applying Hannah Arendt’s and Mary Douglas’s work shows how the news eclipses public spheres by mapping a pollution narrative onto those who threaten myths of national homogeneity and proper citizenship.

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