NOTE: I've graphed the data: go here. I'll continue my daily notes there.
I've been searching Google News and counting the results returned as a way of checking to see if the Bush AWOL story is catching on -- my simplistic thesis being that if it was, we'd start to see more and more mention of it in articles cataloged by Google News.
Here are the results so far:
Monday 2/9: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 465 (+6) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 648 (+71!) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 93 (+5) "service record" and "Bush" -- 164 (+13)
Sunday 2/8:[See note below] "deserter" and "Bush" -- 459 (+1) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 577 (+162!!)[corrected 2/9] "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 88 (+1) "service record" and "Bush" -- 151 (+5)
Saturday 2/7:[See note below] "deserter" and "Bush" -- 458 (+20) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 415 (+106!!) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 87 (+20) "service record" and "Bush" -- 146 (+10)
Friday 2/6:[See note below] "deserter" and "Bush" -- 438 (+10) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 309 (+37) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 67 (no change) "service record" and "Bush" -- 136 (+42)
Thursday 2/5:[See note below] "deserter" and "Bush" -- 428 (+14) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 272 (+45!) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 67 (+13) "service record" and "Bush" -- 94 (no change)
Wednesday 2/4:[More ups today!] "deserter" and "Bush" -- 414 (+51!) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 227 (+64!) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 54 (+34) "service record" and "Bush" -- 94 (+9)
Tuesday 2/3:[Some big jumps today!] "deserter" and "Bush" -- 363 (+8) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 163 (+95!!) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 20 (+6) "service record" and "Bush" -- 85 (+64!)
Monday 2/2: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 355 (+2) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 68 (+9) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 14 (+3) "service record" and "Bush" -- 21 (+3)
Sunday 2/1: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 353 (+5) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 59 (+2) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 11 (+0) "service record" and "Bush" -- 18 (-1)
Saturday 1/31: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 348 (+13) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 57 (+3) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 11 (+4) "service record" and "Bush" -- 19 (new search term)
Friday 1/30: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 335 (+6) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 54 (+5) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 7 (+1)
Thursday 1/29: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 329 (+33) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 49 (+3) "deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 6 (new search term)
Wednesday 1/28: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 296 (+16) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 46 (+1)
Tuesday 1/27: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 280 (-20) "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 45 (-3)
Monday 1/26: "deserter" and "Bush" -- 300
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 84 48 [Mistranscription corrected 1/31 -- Ed]
2/8: It looks very much like the "deserter" angle (which focused on Michael Moore's "reckless" charge) is dead: only 1 add today. On the other hand, this is once again the best day for the "AWOL" angle of the story, with 162 adds, enough for the number of "AWOL" stories cataloged to finally pass the number of "deserter" stories cataloged. I think that a year from now, few people will remember the "deserter" incident or charge at all.
There were 162 unique adds which is, once again, the best since I started tracking this.
Many of today's adds may have been connected to Tim Russert's interview with Bush on Meet the Press this morning, in which he brought up the question of Bush's miltary record using "AWOL" (by quoting Terry McAuliffe's statement about looking forward to a debate between Bush and Kerry with his "chest of medals").
Many faults can be found with Russert in general, and it can't be said that his interveiw was as tough as it should have been, but we should give him credit for posing that question, even if he didn't follow-up on it as well as he should have. Nevertheless, this should keep the AWOL story bouncing along for quite a few days now.
At some point, as they used to say, any publicity is better than no publicity, as long as they spell your name right, and having this public discussion held under the "AWOL" banner gets us quite a way towards permanently searing into the public a nagative impression of Bush's military record, no matter what the actual content of the stories cataloged is.
[Number of "AWOL" adds corrected 2/9]
2/7: Once again, adds to the "deserter" category were sluggish, while adds to "AWOL" were high (very high today), so "AWOL" continues to catch up to "deserter" -- by tomorrow it should pass it. The total unique story count (that is, stories that either use "deserter" or "AWOL" or both) was 786, which means the total number of adds was the exact same as the "AWOL" number of add, so no stories were added that did not refer to the "AWOL" aspect, more indication that the deserter story is dying or being relegated to an historical reference explaining how the current controversy began. All indications are that the focus is now strictly on whether Bush was AWOL or not.
(Looking more closely at the "service record" category tells the same story: of 146 stories, 114 use "AWOL" and only 6 reference "deserter" without also referring to "AWOL". Somehow, I don't know how, 24 stories manage to talk about Bush service record without using either "deserter" or "AWOL" -- perhaps they use "absent without leave" instead.)
It should also be noted that 106 unique adds is the highest since I began tracking it:
2/6: Yesterday's trend continues. The number of "deserter" adds was again smaller than the number of "AWOL" adds, and the number of "AWOL" stories continues to catch up with the number of "deserter" stories, which are both good indications that, in so far as the coverage continues, it's focusing more and more on Bush and less and less on Moore. But, also like yesterday, the forward momentum seems somewhat stalled, as there were only 47 unique adds of stories that include "AWOL" or "deserter" or both (compared to 46 yesterday). Understandably, the candidates' attention is on the impending caucuses and primaries, but I'm hopeful that someone is keeping an eye on the trajectory of the coverage, so that it's not allowed to lose steam entirely.
The relatively large number of adds for "service record" may indicate that the "objective" media has settled on a non-partisan description for this story, using it instead of some variation of "AWOL". That may allow them to keep the story going, but at the expense of some partisan advantage for the Democrats, since we know that defining the terms (eg. "pro-choice" vs. "abortion advocate", "pro-life" vs. "anti-abortion", "death tax" vs. "estate tax") is a significant part of winning the battle. It's better for us for this story to be thought of as the "Bush AWOL" story than the "Bush service record dispute", but it's also better for it to be kept alive, under whatever appellation, than to be dropped entirely, as it was in 2000.
2/5: Some slowdown in the momentum today. If you count the number of stories that mention either "AWOL" or "deserter" or both terms (which I've been able to do since last Thursday, when I added "AWOL" and "deserter" as a search), you find that the total number of articles cataloged is:
I assume that the deceleration will continue unless there's another major news hook to hang the story on, such as a new revelation of fact or documentation or a renewed attack by a major Democratic figure (or the proxy for one) -- without a fresh angle there's only so long that the story can survive on re-summations of the known facts. However, it's very encouraging to note that almost all of the new articles cataloged today (45 out of 46) concentrate on the "AWOL" aspect instead of the "deserter" part of the story (which focuses on Michael Moore's errant charge rather than on Bush's malfeasance), a very strong indication that the campaign to put the emphasis where it should be -- on Bush's record -- is getting results.
2/4: Both Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum go into some of the reasons that the AWOL story seems to have traction this time around. And, credit where it's due, when I first posted the opinion that the story wouldn't be picked up by the media, MyFriendRoger argued strongly (in private correspondance) that I was wrong, that the story would stick around if it was picked up by a major Democratic figure, which is exactly what happened.
Also, thanks to Susan of Suburban Guerilla for linking to this post.
2/3: I reconfigured to put the latest numbers at the top for convenience. The jumps today are undoubtedly due to the summary article in today's Washington Post. It should be said, in all fairness, that I started tracking this to provided evidence that the story didn't have "legs", which is the opinion I expressed when it first broke again. It may well be (we'll see if the numbers continue to rise), that I was incorrect in that assessment, which is just fine by me.
1/31: Well, to my surprise (pleasant surprise), these numbers aren't falling, they're rising somewhat, which may mean that I'm completely wrong about this issue not having "legs". Kerry has started using proxies (veterans like Max Cleland) to keep the issue of Bush's service record (the polite formulation) alive without attacking Bush directly, which I think is a good strategy. I'll keep tracking it, and we'll see if it gains any momentum.
Still, the "deserter" story (which is basically an attack on Moore and Clark and by association the Democratic candidates in general) continues to receive much more attention than the AWOL/service record story, which is the real meat of it and the one that's potentially damaging to Bush.
Original interpretation (1/29): Articles are still being written about the use of the word "deserter" to describe Bush, but, as before, the number of articles which discuss his status as AWOL remains much lower, only 15% of the larger number. Further, there is very little overlap between the two categories, as only 6 articles used both terms. This indicates almost complete polarization of the issue, which does not bode well for the Bush=AWOL meme being picked up by the mainstream media.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
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