The Construction of Fear in Breitbart News

In this post, I want to look at how Breitbart News constructs fear by using the title and image in a recent article as an example. On April 3rd, an article appeared on the Breitbart News web page describing an incident which took place in Germany, the title was as follows:

small town

There are various points related to the title that I found of relevance. Firstly, the location, a small town. If a violent attack takes place in a small town, if the inhabitants of a small town become victims of an act of violence, then no one is safe; we are all living under a cloud of threat and danger, and must live in the likelihood that one day, we too will be attacked. No matter who we are, or where we will, we are threatened by the violence which now is present in our societies. The fact that the small town was attacked, and not an individual, or a single property appears to indicate the scale of the violence and the seriousness of the situation.

And so, who were the attackers? ‘African, Arab Men‘! The out-group has been formed. The ‘Other’ has been constructed. It is African and Arab men who are attacking ‘Our’ small towns and villages. It is African and Arab men who we must fear and protect ourselves from. Their existence in our societies threats us, and our way of life is now under attack.

African and Arab men are thieves; they enter our towns and villages and steal our property, our tools, objects which we used to construct and build our societies and now these tools are being stolen from us and used as weapons against us and our families by African and Arab men. They are thieves and they wish to destroy us.

They terrorize us and bring terror to our local communities. We live far from the war zones of the Middle East, yet we face terror on a daily basis. We live in fear of these intruders who have entered our societies, these African and Arab men.

Who are we? We are the locals, the indigenous population. We have always lived here, this is our land, our community, we have our way of life. It is now being threatened and we live in fear of these African and Arab men.


The picture is a stock image, not one taken from the actual scene of the event, but it certainly represents an image the writer or editor at Breitbart wishes to convey. Our small towns have become militarized zones because of the threat of the African and Arab men who now prowl our street, steal, attack and terrorize us,we, the local inhabitants.

The picture has been intentionally cropped and the police officer is literally headless. He has become a faceless militarized police officer, a man without identity who is now needed to protect us against African and Arab men.

The focus of the image is on the weapons and armory. He is wearing body armor and heavy protective gloves, but the focus is on the high-tech, semi-automatic rifle he is carrying, a weapon which is necessary to protect us and our way of life in our small town homes.

He is carrying other weapons; on his belt there is a pistol and possibly a truncheon or stun gun device; weapons which are needed, as we live in fear.

Therefore, our societies, not just our capital cities, but also our small towns, have been turned into militarized zones, our way of life is now under threat.

The editors of the Breitbart News are have a clear message they wish to convey.

They attempt to construct fear in the readership. Fear of the other. Fear of African and Arab men.

‘Terror Streams’: The Construction of Threat in Breitbart News



In this post I want to comment on how Breitbart News has reacted to the Westminster attack which took place in London earlier this week. Firstly, there is the title of the article:


The metaphor ‘Terror Streams’ is of interest. Metaphors of water such as floods and tides are often used in connection with the refugee crisis, but here we see another water metaphor being used, a ‘Terror Stream’. By using the concept of moving water, an unstoppable force of nature, the writer depicts the situation as something beyond our control, and the fact that the plural is used only amplifies the danger. Further, Europe is being compared with a war zone, which again, can only create a sense of danger and uncertainty.

war zones

Europe is described as a dangerous place to be; only in a war zone would there be a greater risk of terrorist attack at this time.

threat stream

In the above extract, the US general is quoted as using the metaphor ‘threat stream’ and not ‘terror stream’, which the Breitbart News writer uses in order to heighten the sense of danger. But again, the General depicts Europe as being the most dangerous place on the planet with the exception of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Westminster attack is the related to the refugee crisis in Europe as follows:


Again we see a water metaphor, a ‘flow’ of refugees. Furthermore, by closely relating refugees to the Westminster attack, the writer’s stance toward immigration is clearly depicted. It must be noted that there is no evidence relating the attack to refugees, as the the assailant was a British citizen.


The article acknowledges that the attacker was a UK citizen, but still associates this with the ‘influx of refugees’, because the government has to deal with the second situation, they are unable to respond adequately to the first. So again, refugees are responsible for the events which took place.

The article concludes with:


Thus the atmosphere of threat and danger is predicted to continue, and, according to the writer, Europe is to remain one of the most dangerous places on the planet due to the ‘Terror Streams’ which originate from an inseparable combination of refugees and Islamic extremism.

At the time of writing this post, the article had received over 200 responses. The first response clearly reiterates the stance of the Breitbart writer:


The political left, the political elite are blamed for the refugee crisis, which according to the writers of the above posts, is the direct cause of the recent attacks in London. The topos of threat is again very clear, as a situation of carnage and mayhem is predicted, and a total alienation from the political elite.

Therefore, the refugees fleeing war zones are depicted as a Terror Stream, and therefore a threat to European civilization.

The Construction of Discourses of Electric Vehicles in the Global Online Media



Electric vehicles were first produced in the 1880’s, and yet still remain a peripheral mode of transport in modern society regardless of the environmental damage caused by internal combustion engine vehicles. I thought it would be interesting to investigate the discourses in global media online journals and news sources surrounding electric vehicles to gain insights into the current stance taken toward this form of transportation technology. 100 recently published online articles were collected and analyzed using a corpus-assisted discourse analysis approach. The articles were found using the Google search engine and filtered to search only news articles. The search was electric vehicles. The methodological approach, which combines corpus linguistics with discourse analysis, focused on word frequency, salience and words in context in order to study language patterns in the corpus of texts. The analysis found that prevalent discourses were related to the technological advances made in areas related to the battery unit, charging capability and travel range of the vehicles, as well as the growing infrastructure necessary to support such means of transport and the lowering of prices. Thus, rhetorical arguments were presented which positioned electric vehicles as a comparable alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles. The research found that an emphasis towards lower greenhouse gas emissions in electric vehicles was not made, thus, the environmental benefits of electric vehicles was not highlighted. This appeared to indicate that media strategies aim to convince potential electric vehicle owners that such technologies will not negatively impact their way of life. The fact that the environmental benefits were back-grounded appears to indicate that regardless of pollution and global warming, such issues are of secondary concern for most car owners at this current time.

keywords solar cars

As can be seen from the keyword list above, emissions is ranked 18th in level of salience, and occurs much less frequently in the corpus than other lexical items related to vehicle performance and efficiency.

Emissions is an importance discourse related to electric vehicles, but it is not the foremost concern for those writing about and promoting this form of technology.


It does appear that people do not wish to be inconvenienced by adopting a new form of technology which may infringe on their current lifestyle. Therefore, the majority of discourses surrounding electric vehicles appears to attempt to convince the potential customer that by changing to this alternative form of transportation, their lifestyle will not be negatively impacted.

And that’s a pity!


electric cars

A collocation network of electric & cars calculated by MI score.

Straight White Men Don’t Qualify

In a small corpus of 100 articles from Breitbart News related to men, there appears to be a prominent discourse related to the victimization of white heterosexual men.

white men


The above collocation network of white and men indicates the focus placed white men in Breitbart News and how they find themselves to be victims in modern American society at the hands of women and minority groups, who, according to Breitbart News, are attempting to remove heterosexual white men from their privileged position within a patriarchal society.



white men concordance

Within the last 3 days, numerous articles have appeared on the Breitbart website depicting the identity of heterosexual white men as being threatened by women.






By constructing white men as threatened and as victims, populist right-wing ideology positions women and minorities as enemies of privileged white males. Such ideology is increasingly present in mainstream politics, not only in the US, but also throughout Europe. It should be exposed and challenged wherever it is found.

The Construction of Femininities in Breitbart News


Below are the opening paragraphs of an article discussing intelligence in women:

We’re constantly told that sexism and stereotypes are what hold women back in maths, engineering and tech. But it’s a lie. The real reason there aren’t more female astrophysicists is that the number of really, really smart girls is minuscule.

Sorry, no offence, but it’s true. Of course there’s the odd mould-breaking chick brainiac who gets a lot of press attention. But they’re in the minority, and not because girls are put off by some mythical male-dominated patriarchy.

The misogynistic discourse found in this one particular article does appear to be a prominent theme through Breitbart News, which does appear to promote the notion of male patriarchy.

In a small corpus of 100 articles, collected to investigate the construction of masculinity, a misogynistic discourse is salient. There is a reoccurring pattern found within the data in which women are described as being less intelligent than men, as the concordance lines demonstrate:


Feminism is constructed negatively:


Discourses found within the data highlight that women are the victims of violence and are therefore in need of protection by men.



A collocational network of women and feminism.

Therefore, just by a quick look at the data from Breitbart News, it can be seen that a misogynist ideology is clearly articulated at a time when Steve Bannon was the executive chairman. And now, of course, he can be found in the White House.

Masculinities in Breitbart News



I collected 100 articles from the  Breitbart News website which contained the word men. This produced a corpus of almost 69,000 words. When I looked at the most salient words in the corpus, I found the following:


I found it of interest that a corpus of texts which was compiled with the intention of investigating maculinities, contained such a large number of salient words related to feminities.

If I looked at the collocates of women ordered by MI score, I found the following:


There appears to be a discourse related to the opposition to women having combat roles within the armed forces:


Furthermore, the data contains a discourse in which women are in need of being protected by men:

protect-women women-network


After this very brief look at the corpus, there appears to be a very prominent discourse related to the notion of male patriarchy.