Connecting the (Far-)Right Dots: A Topic Modeling and Hyperlink Analysis of (Far-)Right Media Coverage during the US Elections 2016

The 2016 US election and the victory of Donald Trump are closely connected to a perceived rise of the far-right in the United States. We build upon public sphere and alternative media theory to discuss the relevance of alternative media for the US (far-)right and whether the election period and the candidate Trump allowed far-right alternative media to establish themselves in the (far-) right networked public sphere. We investigate whether it has come to a convergence of topics between the right and the extreme far-right. We analyze the topics nine right-wing outlets, ranging from Fox News to the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, covered in 2015/2016 during the US presidential election. We show through topic modeling of 21,919 articles how Breitbart established itself as a media outlet between the extreme far-right and mainstream right by both covering more extreme and more classic conservative topics. We show through time series clustering how Breitbart and Fox News converged in their coverage of Islam and immigration. Finally, we show through hyperlink analysis that the connection between the far-right and the mainstream right is mostly one-sided; while the alternative outlets link to more established ones, the established outlets mostly ignore the outlets from the far-right.

Tags: alt-right, alternative media, election, far-right, Networked public sphere, topic modeling