Press Release

ADL Praises AP and Other News Sources for Making Efforts to Ensure Readers Understand the Meaning of “Alt Right”

New York, NY, December 1, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today praised news organizations such as The Associated Press, The Washington Post and others for their ongoing efforts to ensure that readers understand the meaning of the term “alt right” as a calling card of racists -- not something trendy or “cool.”

The alt right is a loose network of people and groups that promote white identity and reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit racism or white supremacy and anti-Semitism, according to ADL’s Center on Extremism. The term was first coined in 2008 by Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and a well-known leader of the white nationalist movement. But the term has only come into more general use more recently, as white nationalists became more a focus of media and other scrutiny during the 2016 presidential campaign.

 “’Alt right’ has the sound of something that’s cool and trendy, and we know that’s deliberate on the part of the racists who try and couch their bigotry in more palatable terms in an effort to appeal to a broader audience and young people,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “Make no mistake: The alt-right is nothing more than a catchall for a loose affiliation of white supremacists and anti-Semites who embrace white identity and white power as a central tenet of their beliefs.”

“News organizations bear a special responsibility to ensure that readers don’t misconstrue this term and deserve praise for recognizing this and providing clear guidelines for the proper usage of the term,” he added.

The AP Stylebook correctly defines “Alt-right” as a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States….” 

The entry also makes clear that journalists should avoid using the term generically, “because it is not well-known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations devise to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience.”

ADL’s Center on Extremism fights extremism, terrorism and all forms of hate in the real world and cyberspace with unmatched capabilities in research, analysis, investigation, and online monitoring. Recognized as the foremost authority on extremism, the Center provides resources, expertise and training which enables law enforcement, public officials, community leaders and internet and technology companies to identify and counter emerging threats.