Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party favorite who formally announced
her presidential candidacy on June 27, created a major buzz in social media
last week, registering as the dominant subject on blogs as well as a hot topic
on Twitter. Most of the commentary was highly critical.
From June 26 to July 1, fully one-third (33%) of the news
links on blogs were about Bachmann, making her the No. 1 subject, according to
the New Media Index from the
Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. And in a rare case
of the same subject interesting both bloggers and Tweeters, the Minnesota
Congresswoman was the No. 5 story on Twitter.
Bachmann was also a major newsmaker in the mainstream
press last week, where much of the coverage discussed her emergence as a significant
force in the GOP field. But bloggers and Twitter users eschewed that horserace
angle and instead largely criticized her for what they saw as gaffes and
Wrapping up the top five stories on blogs were two economic topics.
The fourth-biggest was about California
Democrats passing an austerity budget for the state (12%). The No. 5 story was
about austerity measures in financially
and public workers on strike in the UK
in Britain was also one of the top stories on Twitter for the week, in fourth
place with 9% of news links.
Google's new Tool is
the Talk of Twitter
On Twitter the new Google+ social networking tool took top
billing, with 35% of news links for the week. Tweeters were mostly excited
about the new Facebook competitor, especially when it came to the issue of
Most of the Twitter users who responded in this discussion agreed
about the real dangers of global warming.
In third place, with 9% of links, were stories about a
British government hacking
of al Qaeda's website, replacing bomb instructions with cupcake recipes.
The fourth-biggest topic (9%) was about the British economy,
with a government official (Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith)
urging Britons to hire
unemployed Britons rather than relying on foreign workers.
Coming off a strong debate performance on June 13 and with
polls showing her among the GOP frontrunners in Iowa, Michele Bachmann's
candidacy seems to have some momentum behind it.
But social media users were not impressed last week. The majority
of the response came from bloggers, many of them liberal, who wrote that she was
both hypocritical and gaffe prone.
One of the points of contention was that despite her stated
aversion to government handouts, her family personally benefited from both farm
subsidies and Medicaid funding. The mental health clinic run by her husband
collected Medicaid payments of more than $137,000 since 2005, on top of $24,000
in federal and state funds that the clinic received under a state grant to
train employees. In addition, her family farm-in which Michelle is a partner-received
almost $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.
"[Michele Bachmann], the Tea Party darling was shown to have
suckled at the teat of the government sow," wrote Diane of Cab Drollery.
"Bachmann possess the horrible quality of not being able to
admit when she makes a mistake. I think that arrogance will be her
downfall as much as her verbal/mental stumbles," wrote Rob Kotaska on My
Three Percent is Swimming.*
"What we have a problem with is Michele Bachmann constantly
dissing Medicaid for adding to the welfare rolls, then finding out some of
those Medicaid dollars...end up nipping and tucking and botoxing the
quintessential nipped, tucked, botoxed, faux-thirty trophy Legislator who
struts onto Fox News and tells Bill O'Reilly, ‘I don't need government to be
successful,'" wrote wonkronk.
"We already know Bachmann isn't the brightest flower on the
Iowa prairie. I say cut her some slack -- and save the ammo for the serious
candidates," wrote EJ Perkins at The
And Twitter users agreed, tweeting their distaste of
Bachmann's husband receiving $137,000 in Medicaid funds.
says she hates federal assistance. But I've got 137,000 (dollars her husband's
clinic received) reasons she doesn't," wrote CJ Werelman.
There were some conservatives who weighed in, saying that it
was not unreasonable for her to be accepting government aid and that the media
was attacking her.
"Accusing Bachmann of confusing Good John with Bad John
smacks of a media-driven contrivance. That said, when I saw the images of
John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy side by side in the Los Angeles Times today, I couldn't help but laugh," wrote Richard Cross at Cross
Purposes, "I question whether Bachmann is qualified to be president, but I
think this kind of orgiastic feeding frenzy on the part of the media will help
her by making her a sympathetic character, if not a martyr, among
On YouTube, a supposed UFO sighting over London drew the
most attention last week, generating two of the five most popular news-related videos.
The No. 1 and No. 3 videos are the same footage, bouncy
clips showing white lights hovering in the skies over London on May 24, which
attracted a small crowd of onlookers.
Most Viewed News
& Politics Videos on YouTube
For the Week of June
25 to July 1, 2011
The New Media Index is a weekly report that captures
the leading commentary of blogs and social media sites focused on news and
compares those subjects to that of the mainstream press.
PEJ's New Media Index is a companion to its weekly News Coverage
Index. Blogs and other new media are an important part of creating today's news
information narrative and in shaping the way Americans interact with the news.
The expansion of online blogs and other social media sites has allowed
news-consumers and others outside the mainstream press to have more of a role
in agenda setting, dissemination and interpretation. PEJ aims to find out what
subjects in the national news the online sites focus on, and how that compared
with the narrative in the traditional press.
A prominent Web tracking site Icerocket,
which monitors millions of blogs, uses the links to articles embedded on these
sites as a proxy for determining what these subjects are. Using this tracking
process as a base, PEJ staff compiles the lists of links weekday each day. They
capture the top five linked-to stories on each list (25 stories each week), andreads, watches or listens to these posts and
conducts a content analysis of their subject matter, just as it does for the
mainstream press in its weekly News Coverage Index.
It follows the same coding
methodology as that of the NCI. Note:
When the NMI was launched in January 2009, another web-tracking site Technorati was similarly
monitoring blogs and social media. PEJ originally captured both Technorati's
and Icerocket's daily aggregation. In recent months, though, this component of
Technorati's site has been down with no indication of when it might
The priorities of the bloggers are measured in terms of
percentage of links. Each time a news blog or social media Web page adds a link
to its site directing its readers to a news story, it suggests that the author
of the blog places at least some importance on the content of that article. The
user may or may not agree with the contents of the article, but they feel it is
important enough to draw the reader's attention to it. PEJ measures the topics
that are of most interest to bloggers by compiling the quantitative information
on links and analyzing the results.
For the examination of the links from Twitter,
PEJ staff monitors the tracking site Tweetmeme. Similar to
Icerocket, Tweetmeme measures the number of times a link to a particular story
or blog post is tweeted and retweeted. Then, as we do with Icerocket, PEJ
captures the five most popular linked-to pages each weekday under the heading
of "news" as determined by Tweetmeme's method of categorization. And as with
the other data provided in the NMI, the top stories are determined in terms of
percentage of links. (One minor difference is that Tweetmeme offers the top
links over the prior 24 hours while the list used on Icerocket offers the top
links over the previous 48 hours.)