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Huland, Gabriel (2022) US Foreign Policy in the News: How the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal Misrepresented the Syrian Conflict. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Restricted to Repository staff only until 19 April 2025.


This thesis analyzes the coverage of the Syrian conflict in the New York Times (NYT), the Washington Post (WP), and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) from March 2011 to April 2018. It focuses on how the three newspapers framed the US government's foreign policies on Syria in six events during the Syrian uprising and civil war. After more than ten years of a multifaceted conflict, which displaced millions of people and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, Syria is immersed in a deep crisis. Because the Syrian conflict was highly divisive, it is often depicted as a “war of narratives” in which several players sought to enforce their agendas. In the United States, the conflict prompted an intense debate that revolved mainly around the appropriate degree of US involvement in the civil war and how the country should behave in the face of growing Russian and Iranian influence in the Middle East. The three newspapers framed this discussion in different ways. Whereas the NYT adopted a pro-Obama tone, the WP and the WSJ framed President Obama's policy negatively. With respect to the Trump administration, the alignments changed, with the NYT and the WP criticizing the former US president and the WSJ adopting an advisory tone regarding his Syria approach. The three newspapers covered the debates occurring within the US political establishment above all others, which suggests that mainstream newspapers are excessively indexed to elite narratives. This fact also indicates that Western media organizations underrepresent local voices when covering international conflicts. By analyzing the relationship between media, foreign policy, and international conflicts, this research sheds light on crucial aspects of the crisis currently pervading US journalism.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Gilbert Achcar
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 16:16

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