For most people who pay attention to the media and politics, it doesn't take an academic study to conclude that talk radio is a favorite outlet for hateful, disparaging and ignorant comments about people of color in the United States, or that it's often the last safe haven for terms widely considered outdated or offensive.
But just in case you needed actual data, researchers from the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center set out to "develop a sound, replicable methodology for qualitative content analysis" to examine hate speech in commercial radio.
In the recently released report, "Quantifying Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio," they examined three conservative news talk shows marketed to audiences in Los Angeles County, with a special focus on the language of the immigration debate and its impact. (Since the issues has been in the headlines, hate crimes against Latinos have risen at the highest rate among all racial/ethnic groups, with a 25 percent increase between 2004 and 2008, according to FBI stats.)
The results: Just over two-thirds of targeted statements focused on undocumented immigrants and Latinos, and all segments included "the assertion of false, unverifiable and/or distorted claims." Most problematic to researchers — who call the use of the terms "illegal" and "illegals" to describe immigrants a practice that "dehumanizes undocumented immigrants and strips away broader socioeconomic contexts and factors" — they found "constant" use of the terms in the segments they reviewed.
In an analysis of the transcripts, Dobbs used the term "illegal" 31 times. The talk show host also showed a special knack for the term "illegal alien(s)," Additionally, two guests from anti-immigration organizations — Steve Camelot of the Center for immigration Studies and Peter Brimelow, who’s president of the VDARE Foundation — together used the term a total of 13 times. Savage used various forms of the i-word 16 times and "The John & Ken Show," used "illegal alien" or some variation of it 9 times in order point to the alleged immorality and criminality of immigrants. According to the data, the hosts also used the phrase four times to qualify terms used for advocates and protesters.
ColorLines, where the study was reported, has launched a campaign to "drop the i-word," arguing that the term opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration.
Read more at ColorLines.
In other news: Survey: Black Women Have Great Confidence.