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Framing in the ‘New Media Environment’: Fox News Channel (FNC) Covers the Bristol Palin Pregnancy
Unformatted Document Text:  conservative administration attacked the welfare system and justified its assault by associating single and teen mothers (mostly African American) as ‘welfare queens.’ On Fox Special Report With Brit Hume, also on September 1, 2008, Fred Barnes, a political commentator who was also the executive editor of the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, and a regular guest of the show, challenged Sally Quinn of The Washington Post. Quinn had breached conservative etiquette by suggesting that coping with Palin’s pregnancy should be tough for a Republican family-values group to take, given the Reagan legacy of the ‘welfare mother’ frame (Addelson, 1999; Gordon, 1997; Douglas and Michaels, 2004). By making this point, Quinn had touched the most sensitive part of the problem. In response to Quinn’s point, Barnes said, ‘That’s exactly wrong. It is the Republican conservative family values group, many of whom are Christians, who are the most forgiving and accepting, and most admiring of the fact that this 17-year-old girl is not going to have an abortion and is going to get married’ (Fox, 2008). The way that the ‘welfare mother’ frame drifted across these discussions was best shown on September 2 when Bill O’Reilly accused Mary Mitchell of ‘race baiting’ on his show, The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly pointedly criticized Mitchell’s article in the Chicago Sun-Times, where she had pointed out that conservatives such as Sarah Palin had been morally harsh on pregnant teens in urban areas. O’Reilly quoted Mitchell as saying, ‘Maybe now that she is in the same

Authors: Durham, Frank.
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conservative administration attacked the welfare system and justified its assault by associating 
single and teen mothers (mostly African American) as ‘welfare queens.’  On Fox Special Report 
With Brit Hume, also on September 1, 2008, Fred Barnes, a political commentator who was also 
the executive editor of the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, and a regular guest of 
the show, challenged Sally Quinn of The Washington Post. Quinn had breached conservative 
etiquette by suggesting that coping with Palin’s pregnancy should be tough for a Republican 
family-values group to take, given the Reagan legacy of the ‘welfare mother’ frame (Addelson, 
1999; Gordon, 1997; Douglas and Michaels, 2004). By making this point, Quinn had touched the 
most sensitive part of the problem.
In response to Quinn’s point, Barnes said, ‘That’s exactly wrong. It is the Republican 
conservative family values group, many of whom are Christians, who are the most forgiving and 
accepting, and most admiring of the fact that this 17-year-old girl is not going to have an 
abortion and is going to get married’ (Fox, 2008). 
The way that the ‘welfare mother’ frame drifted across these discussions was best shown 
on September 2 when Bill O’Reilly accused Mary Mitchell of ‘race baiting’ on his show, The 
O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly pointedly criticized Mitchell’s article in the Chicago Sun-Times, where 
she had pointed out that conservatives such as Sarah Palin had been morally harsh on pregnant 
teens in urban areas. O’Reilly quoted Mitchell as saying, ‘Maybe now that she is in the same 

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