News Release

Reporting on the Radical Right


Kyle Spencer is a journalist, the author of Raising Them Right: The Untold Story of America’s Ultraconservative Youth Movement and Its Plot for Power, and the executive editor of Reporting Right, a weekly guide for journalists. She assesses some of the pitfalls of reporting on the radical right ahead of the 2024 election.


Spencer told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Journalists often accept arguments and blanket statements that they have been sold by the right, and which have been normalized and entered into common conversation. It is hard for journalists, particularly young journalists out in the hinterlands, to report on the radical right. I found that the extremist right was being reported on as a personality fest––engaging, entertaining, a mockery of these figures and a fascination with them. Radical right figures are charismatic because that’s how totalitarianism and fascism work.” 

Spencer created Reporting Right because “I wanted a clearing house for easily accessible information [for journalists] about what to look out for and how they can get manipulated by radicals and extremists. People are out there who are tracing how right-wing money is getting spent, tracking movements and patterns and the nationalization of these strategies. But that information can be hard to find… There is not [much] information out there for smaller [outlet] reporters who are covering the Trumps on their beat. They can be manipulated by the extremist media machine. The disinformation machine is sophisticated, and it feeds off repetition. Journalists have to do an intricate dance about reporting on it without repeating lies and distortions. The media can’t afford to be naive.”

Spencer also highlighted that established, left-leaning publications oftentimes don’t understand what is happening on the ground in Trump country. The mainstream media’s response is to run pieces that try to explain who Trump voters are and to understand them. “These pieces are ineffective and wrongheaded,” Spencer contends. “They end up personalizing and humanizing [the story] and repeating lies. The story is not about Bobby the nice mechanic who thinks the election was stolen. That story needs to be a process story about how Bobby came to believe a lie. We need to try to understand networks of information rather than who the personalities are. How do communities deal with conflicting facts? How do we identify how radical ideas are getting injected into conversation? We need origin stories––not just presenting the lies at face value.”