Delegitimization, Recontextualization, and (Re)Framing Processes A Study of the Coverage of a ‘Populist’ Representative by a ‘Populist’ Talk Show

Jacqueline Aiello


This paper analyzes the coverage of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an American politician whose political discourse has aligned her with left-wing populism (LWP), by Tucker Carlson Tonight, a Fox News talk show hosted by a political commentator whose views have aligned him with right-wing populism (RWP). It explores the mechanisms that govern the presentation, interpretation, and framing of the antagonistic opponent via the analysis of delegitimization strategies, recontextualizing principles, and (re)framing processes. Findings suggest that the antagonist is delegitimized with ironic formulations, ad hominem attacks and debasing attributions that cast doubts on her authority and expertise. Recontextualization involves the suppression and concealment of the antagonist’s standpoints and underlying ideologies, and reframing occurs in discourse surrounding racism based on whom is the (perceived) recipient of racism. While many of the strategies employed are emblematic of populist discourse, others connote ageism, sexism, and racism expressed in overt and covert ways.


delegitimization strategies; Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA); ideological discourse; framing; recontextualizing principles

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