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AP asks outlets to clarify the 'alt-right' is a white nationalist movement

President-elect Donald Trump has disavowed and condemned white supremacists who have cheered his election as president. (AP/Evan Vucci, File)

The Associated Press on Monday released guidelines for news outlets on how to cover the so-called "alt-right" — saying that it should be referred to as a white nationalist movement.

AP, which sets style standards for the news industry, put out the guidelines in a relatively rare and lengthy blog post.

In recent days, it has become confusing whether "alt-right" should be a broad term for some conservatives or supporters of President-elect Donald Trump — but AP  has now clarified that the term should refer only to white nationalists.

The wire service first defined the fringe movement as "the name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology," which many describe as a "mix of racism, white nationalism and populism."

Though many in the movement have said that they support the president-elect, last week Trump said he disavows and condemns the alt-right. Many prominent conservatives, including Ross Douthat, David French and Glenn Beck have also condemned the movement.

In its newly released guidelines, AP warned news outlets about using the term "alt-right" without explanation, because the catch-all term could help the movement to cover up racist ideology.

"Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience," the AP blog post said. "In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist."

Moving forward, AP warned outlets to use the term only with a definition and that the group should not be allowed to define itself:

Again, whenever "alt-right" is used in a story, be sure to include a definition: "an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism," or, more simply, "a white nationalist movement." We should not limit ourselves to letting such groups define themselves, and instead should report their actions, associations, history and positions to reveal their actual beliefs and philosophy, as well as how others see them.
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