The Media During the Rise of Trump: Identity Politics, Immigration,"Mexican" Demonization and Hate-Crime


  • Orestis Papakyriakopoulos Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
  • Ethan Zuckerman Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure, University of Massachusetts Amherst



Trend identification and tracking; time series forecasting, Subjectivity in textual data; sentiment analysis; polarity/opinion identification and extraction, linguistic analyses of social media behavior


In this study, we investigate the role of the US online media ecosystem in Donald Trump’s rise and consolidation to power (2013-2019). We analyze over 54 million articles from online U.S. media and locate a media narrative shift related to three issues that Trump focused on during his 2016 presidential campaign: immigration, Latinx people, and identity politics. Given this, we develop Natural Language Processing techniques based on word embeddings to quantify biased representations of minorities in the media across time. We locate an increase in biased speech that parallels Trump’s rise to power, and a clear partisan pattern to this bias. Comparing articles related to Latinx, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Jewish Americans, we show that the most biased representations in terms of stereotypes and prejudice are found when the media uses the term "Mexicans," which Trump used as a blanket term for a diverse Latin and Hispanic population. We develop econometric models to understand the narrative shift and to associate media reporting with real-world dynamics. We find that the media’s focus on the new narratives and the intensity of biased representations are statistically associated with hate-crime incidents at the state level. These results illustrate how media amenability to politicians' agenda-building can result in the discrimination of social groups, as well as how problematic media reporting is linked to real-world harms. Consequently, we reflect on the role of the media as gatekeepers of public discourse and discuss the conditions for a diverse and inclusive media ecosystem.




How to Cite

Papakyriakopoulos, O., & Zuckerman, E. (2021). The Media During the Rise of Trump: Identity Politics, Immigration,"Mexican" Demonization and Hate-Crime. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 15(1), 467-478.