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Using Google to identify bias in the media: Blumenthal vs. Kirk

June 3, 2010

I caught a snippet of Pete Dominick’s show on XM Radio yesterday and heard him mention something about CNN’s reporting on Mark Kirk and Richard Blumenthal.  As I recall, the premise was that CNN is a “liberal” site but had more stories on Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut democrat who apparently lied his military record, than they did on the Republican, Mark Kirk who also lied about his military record.

It sounded interesting so I took a look for myself and extended the analysis to Fox news, MSNBC and Google News.  The results were unexpected, at least to me, and I’m not sure what is the correct interpretation.  Maybe there isn’t any meaningful conclusion which is why Benjamin Disraeli comes to mind: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

This analysis certainly isn’t statistical in nature nor, in fairness to me, is it a lie.  The queries were done using Google with results limited to the specific site and limited to the last month.  The results are the results.

CNN, MSNBC and Google News had a greater percentage of results for Blumenthal than Kirk while Fox News had almost the opposite results showing more results for Kirk than Blumenthal.  Of course, the next appropriate step would be to read each story and subjectively determine if it were positive or negative.

Query String site:cnn.com site:foxnews.com site:msnbc.msn.com Google News
AND +”Mark Kirk” +”Military Record” 7 (20%) 25 (72%) 9 (33%) 32 (27%)
AND +”Richard Blumenthal” +”Military Record” 27 (80%) 10 (28%) 18 (67%) 84 (73%)
Total (Time period: “last month”) 34 (100%) 35 (100%) 27 (100%) 116 (100%)

There is always a concern that by merely putting numbers in a table there is the appearance of validity.  Therefore, my interpretation of this information is that it may really have no meaning but at the least it shows that there is some difference in the way Fox News covers news when compared to CNN, MSNBC or Google News.

Queries used on June 3. 2010 to generate data in summary table:

CNN

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbs=qdr:m&q=AND+”Richard+Blumenthal”+”military+record+”+site:cnn.com&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

http://www.google.com/search?q=AND+”Mark+Kirk”+”military+record+”+site:cnn.com&num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbs=qdr:m&source=lnt&sa=X&ei=hGkHTMr-CoKclgewj6G7Dg&ved=0CAoQpwU

Fox News

http://www.google.com/search?q=AND+”Mark+Kirk”+”military+record+”+site:foxnews.com&num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbs=qdr:m&prmd=n&source=lnt&sa=X&ei=q2cHTKGcM8L7lwfKsIW0Dg&ved=0CAoQpwU

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbs=qdr:m&q=AND+”Richard+Blumenthal”+”military+record+”+site:foxnews.com&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
MSNBC

http://www.google.com/search?q=AND+”Mark+Kirk”+”military+record”+site:msnbc.msn.com&num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbs=qdr:m&source=lnt&sa=X&ei=Q20HTMvLIcH_lgfnnbm-Dg&ved=0CAoQpwU

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbs=qdr:m&q=AND+”Richard+Blumenthal”+”military+record”+site:msnbc.msn.com&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

Google

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbo=p&tbs=qdr:m,nws:1&q=AND+”Mark+Kirk”+”military+record+”&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbo=p&tbs=qdr:m,nws:1&q=AND+”Richard+Blumenthal”+”military+record+”&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

(Mirror: http://capecorp.com/Sbarefoot.nsf/dx/06032010055525AMSBADN8.htm)

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