Covering Muslims: American Newspapers in Comparative Perspective
Erick Bleich will present his new book examining how American newspaper articles on Muslims are strikingly negative by any measure.
For decades, scholars and observers have criticised negative media portrayals of Muslims and Islam. Yet most of these critiques are limited by their focus on one specific location, a limited time period, or a single outlet. In Covering Muslims, Erik Bleich and A. Maurits van der Veen present the first systematic, large-scale analysis of American newspaper coverage of Muslims through comparisons across groups, time, countries, and topics. The authors demonstrate conclusively that coverage of Muslims is remarkably negative by any measure. They show that American newspapers have been consistently negative across the two-decade period between 1996 and 2016 and that articles on Muslims are more negative than those touching on groups as diverse as Catholics, Jews, Hindus, African Americans, Latinos, Mormons, or atheists. Strikingly, even articles about mundane topics tend to be negative. The authors suggest that media outlets both within and outside the United States may contribute to pervasive Islamophobia and they encourage readers and journalists to “tone check” the media rather than simply accepting negative associations with Muslims or other marginalized groups.
Erik Bleich, Professor of Political Science, Middlebury College
Erik Bleich’s research interests revolve around the topics of race and ethnicity in West European and North American politics. His first book, Race Politics in Britain and France: Ideas and Policymaking since the 1960s (Cambridge University Press, 2003), examines how theories of ideas and policymaking help explain different race policy outcomes in the two countries. His second book, The Freedom to Be Racist? How the United States and Europe Struggle to Preserve Freedom and Combat Racism (Oxford University Press, 2011), explores how liberal democracies balance a desire to promote freedom with the goal of curbing racism. He has also published on the concept of Islamophobia, the status of Muslims, hate crimes, political violence, ethnic riots, theories of immigration and integration, and the legacies of colonial history on contemporary policymaking. His articles have appeared in journals such as Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Forces, Theory & Society, and World Politics. He has edited and contributed to the book Muslims and the State in the Post-9/11 West (Routledge, 2010) and co-edited and contributed to the book Migrants, Minorities and the Media: Information, Representations and Participation in the Public Sphere (Routledge 2017). Since 2012, he has directed the Media Portrayals of Minorities Project. He has served as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council for European Studies (2019-2021), as a member of the Council of the American Political Science Association (2019-2022), and as Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair (2022).