“Nasty Question” and “Fake News”: Metadiscourse as a Resource for Denying Accusations of Racism in Donald Trump’s Presidential Press Events

Natasha Shrikant, Sylvia Sierra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper analyzes how Trump uses metadiscourse as a strategy for denying accusations of racism. We conduct a discourse analysis of press event interactions where Trump denies journalists’ accusations of racism or where Trump himself voices others’ accusations of racism and then denies these accusations. Analysis of 8 excerpts illustrates how Trump a) uses metadiscourse to reframe his own talk as “accurate” instead of “racist,” b) uses “fake news” as humor to delegitimize media and display amicable relationships with his African American supporters and c) labels questions from journalists who ask about his racist actions as “racist” or “nasty.” These metadiscursive strategies reproduce racist ideologies that position Trump as well intentioned, not racist, and thus not blame-worthy for racist actions and those who question Trump as unreasonable and sometimes, racist themselves. Thus, Trump uses his authority to control definitions of what counts as racism and is able to perpetuate racism while attempting to maintain a “not-racist” identity. Overall, we highlight how close analysis of forms of metadiscourse as used in particular interactional and relational contexts is consequential for understanding ways that racism is justified and maintained more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages21
JournalHoward Journal of Communications
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Trump
  • denials of racism
  • face-work
  • ideology
  • metadiscourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management

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