“Factcheck.org” and Obama vs Romney

I was curious to see how often various news sites make use of Factcheck.org, and specifically how often “Factcheck.org” was used in the same article with either party’s leading candidate.  Since Factcheck.org seems to hammer both sides equally on their loose use of facts and what they mean, I’m assuming it is truly bipartisan.

Before I continue, you should know I’m firmly entrenched in the middle of the political spectrum.  And I think most of America is probably within one standard deviation of the middle – this isn’t some bold political statement – it’s just the bell curve.

With that in mind, I fully expected to find that the news sites were equally using Factcheck.org, with each side using it to support their representation of “the facts”.  So I expected Fox to use Factcheck to support Romney and MSNBC to use it to support Obama.  I wasn’t sure about CNN, but I was interested in the result because it seemed to me that they were more fair in their coverage.

I did four Google searches against Fox, MSNBC, and CNN.  The searches were:

Factcheck Only:  [site:www.foxnews.com “Factcheck.org” -obama -romney]

Obama:   [site:www.foxnews.com “Factcheck.org” obama -romney]

Romney:  [site:www.foxnews.com “Factcheck.org” -obama romney]

Both:  [site:www.foxnews.com “Factcheck.org” obama romney]

For MSNBC and CNN, just replace “www.foxnews.com” above with “www.msnbc.msn.com” and “www.cnn.com”, respectively.  It’s important to exclude terms (e.g., “-romney”) and also to put Factcheck.org in quotes, otherwise Google things you really meant “fact check”.

The results were:

Source R O B F
fox 2 47 29 22
msnbc 2 94 101 7
cnn 0 2 17 2

Here,

R = Factcheck.org and Romney and Not Obama

O = Factcheck.org and Obama and Not Romney

B = Factcheck.org and (Obama or Romney)

F = Factcheck.org and Not Obama and Not Romney

To visualize, I did a quick boxplot in R:

barplot(t(as.matrix(data.news[,c(-1)])),
legend=c("Factcheck + Romney","Factcheck + Obama", "Both", "Factcheck Only"),col=c("red","blue", "purple","brown"), names.arg=c("fox", "msnbc", "cnn"))

Click to Enlarge

I see a few things. Both Fox and MSNBC are equally likely to mention either Factcheck and both candidates OR Factcheck and Obama.  CNN makes fewer references to Factcheck.org, but when it does its articles mention both candidates.  I like that – it supports my perception of CNN.

But most stunning from this graphic is that “Romney” alone is rarely mentioned with “Factcheck.org” at all. In fact, if you search the entire web

[“factcheck.org” romney -obama] returns 27,300 results
[“factcheck.org” -romney obama] returns 356,000 results

Now, the easy answer is that Obama has been president for the past four years – there are more articles about him out there. Still, Fox news has two articles mentioning only Romney and Factcheck.org. In case you missed it: TWO

And it’s indicative of a major problem I have with Romney.

He’s not really saying anything.  No facts.  No plans.  Just “Elect me because Obama sucks!”.

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