Study shows conservative blog coverage of Obama largely focuses on non-policy issues

Approximately 77% of posts dealing with Barack Obama in four major conservative blogs focused on non-policy issues. The blogs I surveyed include michellemalkin.com, powerlineblog.com, redstate.com, and littlegreenfootballs.com.

The four blogs published a total of 311 posts in April prominently featuring Obama. Of those, 71 posts (23%) focused on policy issues. The remaining 240 posts (77%) focused on non-policy issues.

Policy issues the blogs covered include Obama’s views on Iraq, the economic slowdown, the housing crisis, the gas tax, immigration, and the war on terror.

Non-policy issues the blogs covered include Rev.Jeremiah Wright, Weathermen founder Bill Ayers, “bitter” comments about rural voters, his decision to wear a flag pin, and his alleged elitism.

Of the blogs surveyed, redstate.com had the highest percentage of posts focusing on policy (34%) and littlegreenfootballs.com has the lowest percentage (11%)

The breakdown of policy/non-policy posts featuring Obama prominently for each blog can be found below:

michellemalkin.com

Policy: 9
Non-policy: 54
Total: 63
Percentage of policy issues: 14%
Percentage of non-policy issues: 86%

powerlineblog.com:

Policy: 10
Non-policy: 60
Total: 70
Percentage of policy issues: 14%
Percentage of non-policy issues: 86%

redstate.com:

Policy: 48
Non-policy: 92
Total: 140
Percentage of policy issues: 34%
Percentage of non-policy issues: 66%

littlegreenfootballs.com:

Policy: 4
Non-policy: 34
Total: 38
Percentage of policy issues: 11%
Percentage of non-policy issues: 89%

Total posts from all blogs: 311
Total policy posts: 71
Total non-policy posts: 240
Percentage of policy posts: 23%
Percentage of non-policy posts: 77%

Flaws in the study: Obviously, what constitutes a “policy” post versus a “non-policy” post is not always clearly defined. In the few instances where this was murky, I tended to put the post into the “policy” category. Also, an argument can be made that “non-policy” posts could indirectly shed light on Obama’s policy views.

I attempted to only include posts that featured Obama prominently, and tried not to count ones in which Obama’s name was only mentioned briefly. For instance, all posts that featured the Rev. Jeremiah Wright but didn’t mention Obama were not counted. The exception to this rule was michellemalkin.com, which automatically used an “Obama” tag in its Wright posts regardless of whether Obama’s name was used in the post. This indicated that the site was blatantly tying all Wright issues with Obama, and therefore they were counted as “Obama posts.”

14 Comments

  1. Joel Says:

    That Michelle Malkin, she does a FAAAAAAANTastic job representing the point of view of intelligent Republicans. Wait. Wait. Okay. Seriously, stop laughing. There are intelligent Republicans all over the land, do who gave the microphones to the idiots? I am sad to see a 34 % high water mark…

  2. Brad Says:

    Excellent insight. ‘Sad state of “journalism,” but it is what it is (unfortunately.) Thanks for the great work, Simon!

  3. Justin D-Z Says:

    Thanks for the note. I’m going to link to this as I think my friends would definitely be interested. Any chance you’ll do something like this for liberal blogs too? It’s nice to know, for example, that Red State is the most substantive. Relatively speaking, I mean.

  4. Charles Leck Says:

    Thanks for telling me about your blog and this study. Very interesting. Be sure you read Tom Friedman’s May 4th column.
    Chas

  5. Robert Nagle Says:

    I also wonder whether coverage may differ over time. This last month personal issues dominated more than usual. Perhaps 3 months ago or 3 months from now the breakdown would be different. Still interesting.

  6. Morse Says:

    Simon, that is a very astute observation. Good work.

  7. ThinkingMeat Says:

    Wingnut blogs obsessed by non-policy issues in re: Obama

    This is pretty much what I’ve been saying for some time, but Simon at Bloggasm has taken the time to quantify the phenomenon. Right-wing blogs by and large avoid discussing Obama in terms of policy, and hammer instead on trivia:

    Approximately …

  8. Bruce Kelly Says:

    Considering there is very little difference in the two Democratic contenders policies what else could you expect? We’ll see more on policy during the presidential campaign. Hopefully you’ll revisit this topic then.

  9. Big Tex Says:

    Thanks for your work on this, Simon. The numbers confirm what I would have suspected of the right-wing blogs, though my guess is that the mainstream blogs like Instapundit skew more toward Redstate’s numbers than those of the other 3 blogs, who are really the bottom of the conservative barrel. In any event, you’ve definitely got a strong stomach to weather a month’s worth of Malkin, LGF and Power Line.

  10. The Old Eighteen Says:

    Right-wing blecchosphere acting as a conduit for anti-Obama memes

    You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear someone suggest that the right wing of the blogosphere is little more than a vehicle for pushing hateful memes against prominent Democrats and liberals into the public discourse, but one brave blogger has

  11. jvill Says:

    Bruce Kelly: Considering there is very little difference in the two Democratic contenders policies what else could you expect? We’ll see more on policy during the presidential campaign. Hopefully you’ll revisit this topic then.

    Huh? You’re missing the point. This has nothing to do with how the CONSERVATIVE blogs compared Obama and Clinton.

    This study looked at how the right examines an opposition candidate, and surprise surprise, they don’t look at policy, they pursue character assassination.

  12. slag Says:

    This is very interesting. At some point, a comparison btwn left and right may be in order. Anecdotally, I’ve always seen lefties (esp main stream lefties) focus much more heavily on issues and much more heavily on use of actual facts (incl linking and whatnot). This is a great start! Thanks for the heads up and the info.

  13. slag Says:

    BTW How did you select your sample?

  14. AlphaFactor Says:

    I’m glad you took the effort to review the blog posts, lad.

    I share in your frustration that the public discourse in this country has taken on the tone of “if it bleeds, it leads” rather than actual substantive argument.

    Information outlets intertwined with the conservative agenda like Malkin’s board and FOXNews are the most guilty of this– but I think the rest of the media has to make an effort to bring substantive policy back in the discussion, too.


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