The study, entitled "Social Networks for Hate Speech," analyzed the role that five prominent conservative talk radio shows play in spreading hate speech on social websites. It examined the guests, topics and content on The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show, The Glenn Beck Program, The Savage Nation, and The John and Ken Show.
"Our study found that the ideological content of conservative talk radio has helped cultivate a social network built around talk radio hosts and their guests," said Alex Nogales, NHMC President & CEO. "This social network targets vulnerable groups in content that is spread across affiliated social media web sites. The result is an echo-chamber of voices, both online and off, that promotes hatred against ethnic, racial, religious groups and the LGBT community on social media web sites."
Moreover, the study found this social network is dominated by media personalities, Republican political figures and/or Tea Party activists, while routinely ignoring alternative points of view from issue-driven organizations. Other key components of this network include Premiere Radio Networks, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications that nationally syndicates three of the five shows examined, and Fox News, whose media personalities appear most frequently on the shows.
The study completed over the last 18 monthsalso determined that:
- The social network of hate speech propagates a narrow set of priorities, such as messaging that often includes anti-immigration and anti-Islamic focuses.
- In this highly insular network, immigrants are routinely referred to as "illegal" and law-breaking, while Islam is portrayed within the context of terrorism.
- An overwhelming proportion of scheduled guests on these shows were white (89 percent) and male (81 percent), matching the race and gender of the hosts.
- Political figures who appeared as guests were largely members of the Republican Party (93 percent) and/or affiliated with the Tea Party movement (89 percent).
- The top five ideological positions of scheduled guests were determined to be anti-federalist (23.6 percent), pro-Republican (19.1 percent), pro-Tea Party Movement (12.1 percent), anti-Islamic (11.1 percent)and anti-immigration (8.5 percent).
- Though 88 topics of interest were identified, immigration emerged as the most discussed topic, dominating nearly one-quarter (23.9 percent) of all topic segments.
This is the second of three NHMC/CSRC studies. The first "Quantifying Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio," was released in November, 2011 and found that program hosts and their guests make unsubstantiated claims, while using divisive language and dehumanizing metaphors that targeted specific ethnic, racial, religious groups, as well as the LGBT community. The study also developed a replicable methodology for quantifying hate speech.
The third study, "Using Biological Markers to Measure Stress in Listeners of Commercial Talk Radio," will be released in the coming weeks.
"NHMC is proud to have had the foresight to commission these studies," said Nogales. "When we started this work in 2009, we knew that we needed to go beyond the anecdotal. Thanks to Dr. Chon Noriega and his team at CSRC, we now have a roadmap of studies that clarify the components of hate speech: the targeted groups, the types of statements used against them, and now the social network that propagates the hate. We need to clearly understand the problem in order to address it."