News & Politics

Cadillac Casting Call for 'Alt-Right Thinkers' Drums Up Controversy

Richard Spencer (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Speaking of fake news, The Washington Post has a report on a “controversy” generated by a casting call for a Cadillac television ad.

According to an image of the casting call posted by the news agency Reuters and many others, the notice said an agency filming the ad was looking for “any and all real alt-right thinkers/believers.”

[…]

The alt-right, or alternative right, is an extremist movement that seeks a whites-only state.

[…]

Cadillac tried to quell the criticism with postings on Twitter and on its Facebook page: “Cadillac did not authorize or approve a casting notice for an ‘alt-right (neo-nazi)’ role in a commercial. We unequivocally condemn the notice and are seeking immediate answers from our creative agency, production company and any casting companies involved.”

You may be wondering how this is a story. What is newsworthy here? Next to nothing. The number of people genuinely affected by a provocative casting call hovers around zero. But it does provide an excuse to pen these follow-up paragraphs.

A key figure in the [alt-right] movement is Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior adviser in the White House. Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a website popular with alt-right supporters.

Members of the alt-right said the movement was buoyed by Trump’s candidacy and election.

In August, Rocky Suhayda, a top American Nazi Party leader, said a Trump victory is “going to be a real opportunity for people like white nationalists,” according to the Washington Post.

And David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana, tweeted “God Bless WikiLeaks” shortly after Trump won the presidential election.

That’s why this report was written. It was an opportunity to bleat implications that Trump is a racist. While the alt-right remains a real source of legitimate concern, there exists no journalistic justification for pivoting from a story about a Cadillac casting call to a litany of random implications about Donald Trump.

If we’re going to talk about fake news, we have to include reports like this. Fake news means more than outright fabrications. It also occurs when outlets use non-stories to frame a political narrative.