The war on terror is a significant event for the United States and is still being fought today. The story of Pat Tillman’s death is an important feature to the war on terror. Pat Tillman was a former Nation Football League player who sacrificed it all to serve in the US Army. The initial report of his death stated that enemy combatants killed Tillman while fighting heroically. Through investigation, it was later found that this was false and that Tillman was in fact killed by friendly fire. The purpose of this study is to determine the rhetorical characteristics of newspaper coverage about Pat Tillman’s death and how that coverage encouraged patriotic support for the war effort. In this study, I used rhetorical criticism, more specifically the method of fantasy them analysis, to shed light on the rhetorical characteristics of coverage on Pat Tillman’s death. First, the newspaper coverage creates a rhetorical vision of patriotic call to support the US war effort. Second, the coverage drew a connection between the military and athletics ina way that served to justify the armed conflict. Lastly, this study raises questions about the links between militarism and athleticism in the United States.

Keywords: war on terror, rhetoric, patriotic support


Bostdorff, Denise M.


Communication Studies




war on terror, rhetoric, patriotic support

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 John R. McCarthy