Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation




Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Department of Political Science


Marty Cohen

Valerie Sulfaro

David A. Jones


On January 6th, 2021, the nation watched from their television screens as a group of extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. An interesting emotion fell over the U.S. public – it was both shocking and not shocking at all. The attack on the Capitol was a by-product of years of internal division, catapulted by Trump’s presidency. Between racial divisions and the progression of Black Lives Matter, the advancement of COVID and its governmental policies, and Trump’s divisive nature of president at a peak, it seemed almost inevitable that an offense like this would occur.

As political conversations surrounding this event became headline news on every media source imaginable, I began wondering about extremism in general. What drives some people to extremism but not others? Is there a predictable environment that creates extreme ideals? What kinds of demographics are seen engaging in what kinds of extremism? How powerful of a force was media in bringing this group together? These were the initial questions that inspired the themes in this paper.

This paper begins with a literature review examining research on U.S. extremism and media. Next, a methodology further explains the procedural elements of this paper. Then, the four-fold hypothesis analysis begins that seeks to encompass questions about U.S. extremism and its intersection with modern media. The first hypothesis posits a general question about party identification and extremism. The second examines a more direct question about extremism and media usage. The third asks about political news vs. commentary, and the fourth explores differences in extremity between traditional and alternative media. The paper finishes with a conclusion that entails general discussion and considerations for future research.



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