Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Anthony Hatch

Second Advisor

Adia Harvey Wingfield

Third Advisor

Wendy Simonds


The presidency of Barack Obama has given racial framing in the news media a new salience particularly because of the role that media coverage plays in shaping ideas about race. The racial framing that unfolds through the news media reflects new forms of racism that work to justify and explain racial inequalities without explicit references to race. In this study, I analyze the media discussion of welfare reform following a 2012 Mitt Romney attack advertisement that claimed that President Obama “gutted” welfare reform. I use discourse analysis to analyze the prevalence of controlling imagery, colorblind racist rhetoric, and the white racial frame in 91 prominent newspaper articles and political blogs that discussed this controversial advertisement. This study aims to contribute to sociological knowledge about specific language and strategies used by the media to perpetuate racism, and to demonstrate the relationship between political and social welfare discourse and racial ideologies.