Toward an Empirical Analysis of Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio

Toward an Empirical Analysis of Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio

by Chon A. Noriega and Francisco Javier Iribarren


Chon A. Noriega is professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is also director of the Chicano Studies Research Center. He is the author of Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema and a coauthor of Phantom Sightings: Art After The Chicano Movement and L.A. Xicano. He is currently completing a book-length study of Puerto Rican multimedia artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz and a longitudinal study of online and social media strategies among nearly 180 art museums in the United States. Noriega has edited anthologies on Latino, Mexican, and Latin American cinema, as well as the collected works of Carmelita Tropicana and Harry Gamboa Jr. Since 1996, he has been the editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. He is the editor of three book series as well as the Chicano Cinema & Media Arts DVD series.

Francisco Javier Iribarren is the assistant director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. He also teaches in the Department of Social Welfare and serves in the Spanish Speaking Psychosocial Clinic at UCLA. Iribarren is a coauthor of “Salivary Biomarkers in Psychobiological Medicine,” published in Bioinformation, and “A Family Intervention to Reduce Sexual Risk Behavior, Substance Use, and Delinquency Among Newly Homeless Youth,” published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. He was recently named chair of the Community Engagement Subcommittee for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute Working Group on Global Informed Consent at UCLA.



This pilot study uses qualitative content analysis to examine hate speech that targets vulnerable groups, including ethnic, racial, religious, and/or sexual minorities, in commercial broadcasting. The study quantifies a recurring rhetorical pattern for targeting specific vulnerable groups through the systematic use of unsubstantiated claims, divisive language, and nativist code words. For example, Latino immigrants were often coded as criminals and then linked to social institutions that were presented as complicit with immigrants. In this way, target groups were characterized as a powerful and direct threat to the nation. While vulnerable groups are targeted, calls for action from talk radio are then directed against those identified as supporters of these vulnerable groups.

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