Weekly Update: Week of May 2, 2011

This week’s word cloud looks a little strange:

Why are sports getting so much attention in the MSM? We think it’s because the Osama bin Laden story has so efficiently sucked up the media’s attention that, because our top MSM sites still have dedicated sports sections, the only other big stories appearing in the cloud are about boxing, baseball, the NBA playoffs, and the Kentucky Derby.

The similarity score between blogs and MSM this week is also very low indicating that there may be substantial differences in coverage between the two sources of the Osama bin Laden story. For instance, “Pakistan” is trending very high in the blogosphere (6th most popular word) and is middle of the pack (56th) in the MSM.

In fact, when we dig deeper, the coverage of Osama bin Laden is remarkably similar between blogs at the MSM:

One interesting dissimilarity is the prominence of “Bush” in the blogosphere but not in the MSM. It seems that bloggers are playing out the “Was it Obama’s policy or Bush’s that lead to bin Laden’s death?” meme more than the MSM (you’ll notice “torture” and “waterboarding” also appear in the word cloud for the blogosphere but not in the MSM). Take, for example, this post from the Right From Left blog claiming Bush’s torture policies led to bin Laden’s killing.

When we look at mentions of “Laden” in the left vs. right blogosphere comparison cloud, we notice that those terms “torture” and “waterboarding” are actually trending higher on the left than the right while “Bush” trends in both:

This hints at the language being employed by the two sides to engage this debate, represented in this post by Glenn Greenwald at Salon who takes on those who claim Bush’s interrogation policies gleaned information about bin Laden’s location.

Much as in the overall MSM vs. blogosphere cloud for this week, the general right vs. left blogosphere cloud is much less similar than the right vs. left cloud that pivots on “Laden:”

As we can see, the bin Laden story captures much of the attention but there are also significant mentions of Donald Trump on the left and, sort of inexplicably, Google on the right. One very interesting thing we see here that we do not see in the “Laden” clouds is the appearance of “Jarrett” on the right. When we dig down we find a meme that gained some traction in the right blogosphere about Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett claiming she tried to prevent President Obama from approving the mission to take out bin Laden and that Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton essentially had to undertake a coup to order the military to continue the mission. The meme seems to originate with this “interview” with a “White House insider” on socyberty.com from where it moves through the right blogosphere.

It will be interesting to see whether the Jarrett story picks up any steam anywhere else in the media, and how the bin Laden narrative changes going into next week.

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