What's Race Got to Do with It? Press Coverage of the Latino Electorate in the Presidential 2008 Primary Season
St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary, Vol. 24, p. 425, 2009
35 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2009
Date Written: September 30, 2009
This article presents a critical analysis of press coverage of Latinos and the presidential election during the Democratic Primary, from January through June 2008. The foundation of this article is a content analysis of 408 articles published in four newspapers about Latinos and the presidential election during the primary season. The four newspapers – The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News – were selected because they are well respected as newspapers of record and because they represent diverse regions of the country (two from the northeast, two from the southwest). Each is a daily newspaper in a metropolitan area with a population ranging from twenty to forty-five percent Latino.
The first section provides background and initial assumptions about a number of topics, including the diversity of the Latino population, the complexity of Latino racial identity and the media’s role in the reproduction of racial ideology. The second section of the article describes the methodology and data in more detail and also presents an overview of the major findings. The third section delves deeply into the prevalence in the press of the black-brown divide as a major theme in coverage of the Latino electorate and the 2008 presidential election. I describe its origins early in the primary season, debunk it based on contemporary and historical evidence and analyze why the media was drawn to it as racial common sense. In the conclusion, I offer some speculations about the future role of Latinos in American politics and changing racial dynamics in the United States.
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