ObamaUsing the word "country" as a baseline and Google trends, the largest news story coverage of any President was for Lincoln with heavy news coverage utilizing his name surrounding the commencement of the Civil War in April 1861, the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865 and his assassination. The second largest news coverage was of JFK during 1963, the year of his assassination. JFK's inaugural year was a relative non-event. It's also worth pointing out that nearly all of the other presidents benefited from having common names (the news search is not robust enough to ensure unique reference to Franklin Roosevelt for example, resulting in an upward bias in his figures), so Obama's strong news results are all the more remarkable. What's really incredible to me is that the coverage Obama has generated so far is in less than two years (each of the bars above represent two years [chart not included]). His news stories continue to build at a furious pace and it is highly likely he will emerge the clear victor. To place it in context, Obama has generated more news items than Teddy Roosevelt did over eight years of office and three elections.





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2 Comments so far

  1. marion d s dreyfus on November 8, 2009 10:16 am

    Several factors mitigate the news tonnage of the present occupant of the White House.

    We are far more “newsy” than we were. During Roosevelt’s terms of office, people were scrabbling to make a living in a post-WWII, post-Crash time–writers were not on every blog, at every Tweet. Now anyone with a computer and a chair can ring in with articles of any length–the poundage does not mean much.

    the odd etiology and provenance of the current president ensures more ink: He is an unusual candidate, the first in 44 men to not be an elderly white guy, as the casual are wont to say. The inches he gets on this, especially in the run-up to the presidency, was non-ending, a seamless skein of mostly hysterically flattering portraits and white-guilt making-up-for-lost-time coverage.

    he is furiously changing the terms of engagement in all the ground.rules, and that too would necessarily generate a great deal of back and forth, left vs. right, high vs. low, aye vs. nay.

    the huge shifts occasioned by #3 mean that those who want to justify or criticize the tectonic movements he has tried to effect will be loud in defense or aggressive crit. Were he a sleepy legislator or demure chief executive, he would not be creating such tidal waves of comment.

    reception and perception overseas is strong, not only because he is different, which he is, but because those differences also yield op-eds and tsunamis of reaction that then ricochet in the US media. A beddy-bye prez would not elicit so much reactive meditation, from friend and foe. He has made more trips abroad, in a shorter time, than any of his forebears in the Oval office.

    he seeks the limelight almost as often as he breathes. He wrests the microphone on a daily level. No president prior to this one has been in the face of the public so often, so relentlessly, over so many issues both important and trivial. He makes headline-grabbing comments that reverberate on YouTube, in the social media, on TV, in the blogosphere, and of course, in the punditocracy. He entertains celebs, goes on costly ‘dates’ with the wife, travels incessantly whether for good reason or not, plays a game of golf more often than prior POTUS’es, and comments on baseball, football and basketball games–all of which yield wattage and writ.

    Seventh: Everything now is more, and every president will generate more press (and spin) than the one preceding him/her.

    Eighth. He has a wife who garners attention, whether for good or ill; and he has cute young kids and a fetching dog, which is a recall of the JFK family, but a relative novelty in looking back over Bush I and II, Clinton I (assuming Hillary becomes II), Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Johnson.

    Ninth. He is conducting two wars, there is a now-catastrophic economy plunging us into hemorrhagic job loss, the country is reeling from aspects of bad governance on the Stock front, the housing front, the agribusiness horizon, the industrial sector. He won a shocking Nobel Prize, after a scant two weeks in office, alarming all who thought the prize was awarded for achievement, not persiflage or promise. Wars and disaster, terror threats, odd awards and malaise on a national scale all warrant buckets of brouhaha. Which is dutifully what it all gets. And his name is associated with every one of the above, whether he initiated them or not.

    (Moral: Just because a guy gets coverage does not necessarily translate into his being particularly great or worthy of all the to-do.)

    marion d s dreyfus . . . 20©09

  2. Michael Green on January 25, 2010 3:05 pm

    Sorry for the late reply, but it seems you have gotten the point of my analysis. Just to be clear, the level of news coverage was normalized by performing a search relative to the word “country” — so Teddy Roosevelt’s lower news coverage was scaled upwards to reflect the relative paucity of news in his day.


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