On Saturday, August 12, 2017, a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr., a white, American male, slammed into a crowd of counterprotestors at the “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one individual and injuring 19 others. Immediately after the incident, there was no mention of terrorism in the news media’s coverage of the crash. However, similar acts of violence committed by non-caucasian American citizens were described as “acts of terrorism” immediately after the incidents. Why does the media report similar events either as “acts of violence” or “acts of terrorism”? Additionally, can the news media's coverage of acts of terrorism influence public opinion?
This thesis uncovers the racial and ethnic biases hidden within the news media's coverage of acts of terrorism. My results conclude that the news media has a large influence on public opinion. In addition, events that are committed by non-caucasian individuals garner the most in depth coverage. The atrocity at Charlottesville, according to my research, was in fact an act of terrorism, but it was not covered in that manner by the news media because of its inherent biases.