counterframe; frame contestation; media hegemony; September 11 terrorist attacks; Ward Churchill


Political Science


This study analyzes the Denver Post’s reportage on the frame contest between the dominant narrative of the September 11 terrorist attacks set out by President Bush and a challenge to that narrative in an Internet essay by Professor Ward Churchill. The authors find that by refusing to interrogate Churchill’s sociopolitical argument, reducing it to the offensive rhetorical trope “little Eichmanns” he used to describe the victims of the attacks, and pillorying Churchill as a person and scholar, the Post assured his counterframe would not achieve parity with the dominant frame. The authors interpret this as an example of media hegemony and situate the Post’s coverage within a crisis of hegemony that left the “sacred core” of the Bush frame—American innocence and moral exceptionalism—vulnerable to contestation. Because the Churchill counterframe flagrantly transgressed that “sacred core,” it became the irresistible target of media hegemony strategies by the Denver Post.


Original Citation: King, Erkia G., and Mary deYoung. "Imag(in)ing September 11: Ward Churchill, Frame Contestation, and Media Hegemony." Journal of Communication Inquiry 32, no. 2 (2008): 123-139.