Category Archives: studies that count things

Counting Coup

I love studies where someone takes the time to actually count things. We all understand that some counting studies are better than others. Some studies rely on sample size, as in the second study I will discuss. Some don’t as in this first counting study.
I liked this study which was posted by Jim Naureckas on January 21, 2011 and this study was most true at that time. This study keeps coming up because of that old child’s taunt that I mentioned the other day. The Republicans love to use this strategy. It is the “I’m rubber, you’re glue; everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you” tactic that I mentioned last week in regard to the issue of who is attacking women the most and with the worst slurs. The Democrats first accused the Republicans of a “War on Women” because of their prolonged battles to defund Planned Parenthood and fight aspects of abortion. I know many people oppose abortion. I have been living in the same world as every other American. I also know that Republicans think they are strong enough right now to pursue this agenda. Now Republicans point to several attacks made by some Democrats on Republican women that range from distasteful to disgusting and they are accusing Democrats of a “War on Women”. How old are we? Eight? These are strange days. Whatever! There has been lots of dialogue about what kinds of insults are being slung and who is doing the slinging.
So back to Jim’s report of a few counting studies which is titled Fox News Is Outraged by Nazi Analogies – and Other Big Lies.
It is bizarre to see Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly denying that pundits from her network compare people to Nazis–contrasting this reticence to Rep. Steve Cohen (D.-Tenn.), who said calling healthcare reform a “government takeover of healthcare” was “a big lie. Just like Goebbels.”
In fact, such comparisons are common currency on Fox News and in much of right-wing media, as FAIR has documented (Action Alert, 1/16/04; FAIR Blog, 4/2/09, 8/9/09, 4/28/10; Extra!, 3/10). Fox’s Glenn Beck, a leader in this trend, compared the auto bailout to “the early days of Adolf Hitler” (4/1/09), said that Barack Obama’s plans to expand the programs like the Peace Corps were “what Hitler did with the SS” (8/27/09) and, when Obama said he was looking for “empathy” in a Supreme Court nominee, claimed that Hitler’s empathy “led to genocide everywhere” (5/26/09).
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank (10/3/10), who wrote a surprisingly good book on Beck, did a count of how many times the Fox host had made various Nazi allusions:
In his first 18 months on Fox News, from early 2009 through the middle of this year, he and his guests invoked Hitler 147 times; Nazis, an additional 202 times; Fascism or fascists, 193 times. The Holocaust got 76 mentions, and Joseph Goebbels got 24.
Yep, the particular comparison that was so outrageous it merited in-depth examination on Fox News has been made on Fox’s top-rated show at least two dozen times–along with hundreds of other Third Reich references.
For an added dose of hypocrisy: Bill O’Reilly (1/20/11) had right-wing talker Laura Ingraham on last night to weigh in on, among other things, the outrageous Nazi analogies coming from the left. Ingraham has a record of–you guessed it–playing the Nazi card while criticizing the Obama administration.
How does Fox get away with such shamelessness? It’s hard to explain–if I’m not allowed to mention the Big Lie theory.
Of course I like this counting study because I am a Democrat and it disses the Republicans, but I also like it because I used to be unable to watch these commentators on FOX with all their Nazi talk. I did not realize at the time that these slurs have been common practice since the end of WWII among politicians; but these were usually one-offs and did not have the power of the frequency or the vitriol in which FOX commentators indulged.
This Sunday, June 3, 2012 I came across another counting study, this time in The Daily Beast which I really liked. This one is by Abigail Pesta and first appeared on May 31, 2012. It is entitled Men Rule Media Coverage of Women’s News with the preliminary statement “In media reports on women’s issues—abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood—men are quoted around five times more than women”, a new study shows. What follows is a summary of what counters found:
“[A]ccording to the research group The 4th Estate, which has been studying election coverage for the past six months; [a]mong 35 major national publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, men had 81 percent of the quotes in stories about abortion, the research group said Thursday, while women had 12 percent and organizations had 7 percent.
In stories about birth control, men scored 75 percent of the quotes, with women getting 19 percent and organizations getting 6 percent. Stories about Planned Parenthood had a similar ratio, with men getting 67 percent, women getting 26 percent, and organizations getting 7 percent.  
Women fared a bit better in stories about women’s rights, getting 31 percent of the quotes compared with 52 percent for men and 17 percent for organizations. 
Men didn’t just dominate stories on women’s issues, the study found, but stories on all election topics, including the economy and foreign policy. Among individual publications, men had 65 percent of quotes on general election topics in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. Men had 67 percent of quotes in The Washington Post and 76 percent in USA Today. 
Men ruled the airwaves as well. The study looked at 11 major national television shows, finding that men had 81 percent of quotes on general election topics. Among individual shows, men were quoted 87 percent of the time on CNN State of the Union, 81 percent of the time on Hardball, 78 percent on Face the Nation, 77 percent on Fox News Special Report, and 69 percent on Meet the Press.  
 “Sometimes it takes a quantifiable analysis to be able to show that the voices represented are still not balanced, and this is especially frustrating when stories are focused on women’s health and women’s rights topics,” said Joy Bacon, a co-founder of The Gender Report, a research group that monitors gender representation in Internet news. “It’s just another reason why we need more women in all sectors, including the media and healthcare, so there are more expert sources to turn to in the first place.” 
Separately, a recent study called The OpEd Project found that men are writing the majority of opinion columns in the media. In that study, researchers at the site The Byline Blog evaluated more than 7,000 opinion columns in 10 media outlets over a 12-week period from Sept. 15 to Dec. 7, 2011, and found that women wrote just 33 percent of opinion columns in new media (websites), 20 percent in traditional media (print publications), and 38 percent in college media.
Numbers like these are “shocking but not surprising,” said Jasmine Linabary, a co-founder of The Gender Report. “Studies have consistently found that women are roughly a quarter or less of news sources. Counts like these continue to draw awareness and raise questions about why this might be the case. The answers are complicated, but the next question we need to ask ourselves is, what can be done about it?”
There is more to the article. You can follow the link and get the details about how the study was conducted and the number of instances that were actually counted if you want to make a judgment about the methodology, but it is still an interesting study and my gut says it’s true.