Loughborough University
Thesis-2006-WilsonVine.pdf (8.37 MB)

The press reporting of the David Irving libel trial: a rhetorical and discursive analysis

Download (8.37 MB)
posted on 2018-08-22, 08:32 authored by Emma A. Wilson Vine
This thesis is a study of the David Irving libel trial and its newspaper coverage. The libel trial, involving allegations of Holocaust denial, gained widespread coverage in the national broadsheet newspapers. It is the presentation of Irving and the debate around the term 'Holocaust denier' in the newspapers that this thesis focuses upon. The aim of the thesis is to examine the presentation of an individual such as Irving, as a fascist and Holocaust denier, through the newspapers. The thesis, therefore, approaches the topic of contemporary fascism through a case study of the way that fascism is represented in the media and the language used in such representation. This differs from previous examinations of contemporary fascists and Holocaust deniers that place their primary emphasis upon the motivation behind such ideological positions. The theoretical basis of the thesis is one based primarily upon Rhetorical Psychology, informed by a background of Discursive Psychology. The thesis focuses upon the rhetorical strategies used, both in the courtroom and in the newspaper coverage of the action. Additionally, a content analysis was carried out, which showed that the broadsheets provided most coverage, that Irving was the main focus of the coverage, and that the opening and judgment days gained the most column inches. Given that much of the trial was predicated upon a debate as to the meaning of the term 'Holocaust denier', areas of the trial transcript were also analysed to determine the rhetorical strategies used in this debate. Following on from this, the potential transition in the use of the term was shown in the newspaper coverage. It is shown that 'Holocaust denier' underwent a noticeable shift from the coverage of the opening day to the coverage of the judgment. The thesis shows the change of language over a relatively short space of time, providing implications as to the development of ideographs or terms used in ideological discourse, and the manner in which they may be analysed. The thesis ends with some suggestions for further research into ideographs and ideological discourse in general.


Economic and Social Research Council.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Emma Alice Wilson Vine

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.


  • en