2016: Volume 9, Issue 2, pp. 41-63

Islam and Muslims in U.S. Think Tank Electronic Media: 
Framing, Narrative, and Ethics

Yahya Benkhedda


This paper draws on framing theory and narrative theory as two influential theoretical approaches to the analysis of discourse and communication. It looks into the discourse processes and ethics of framing particular media stories and constructing particular narratives about Islam and Muslims in the official website of the Middle East Forum (MEF), a well-established neoconservative American think tank which specializes in the Middle East. The study examines a representative sample of articles from the website and proposes a model of editorial media discourse analysis based on a problem-solution framing paradigm and a narrative ethical evaluation platform. Findings uncover that the problem-solution frame, which is built on a problem-culprit-cause-solution base and which represents the frame’s cognitive structure is systematically utilized. Four types of framing (religious, political, cultural, and military), two forms (verbal and semiotic), and two functions (persecution and isolation) have been detected, constructing persecutive narratives of Muslims as the villains and of Islam as anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and incompatible with modernity. The ethical evaluation shows that these belligerent narratives violate basic standards of ethics and dialogue.


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