PEJ New Media Index: Heated Health Care Battle Explodes in the Blogosphere

  • August 20, 2009

The angry partisan wrangling that permeated mainstream media coverage of the health care debate also raged in the blogosphere last week as the issue dominated the online conversation.

Supporters and opponents of President Obama's health care reform goals faced off online, with each side accusing the other of being dishonest and manipulating facts. Liberal bloggers charged that conservatives were spreading fear and falsehoods to weaken support for health care reform while conservatives asserted that liberals were hiding their real goals and were only interested in promoting a government-dominated system.

Polarizing commentary is often a part of social media's attention to current news events. Over the past few months, other hot-button political issues that have led to intense  partisan arguments include the debate over torture, Obama's economic stimulus package, and the resignation of Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska.

For the week of August 10-14, almost one quarter (23%) of the top news-related links were to stories about health care according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. This is the first time health care has been the top subject since PEJ began tracking the blogosphere in mid-January. The previous high water mark was from July 27-31 when health care was the fourth-largest story with 9% of the week's links.

The other top stories in the blogosphere last week were an eclectic mix. The second largest topic, which garnered a great deal of attention at 18% of the links, was a BBC story about the discovery of a large meat-eating plant discovered in the highlands of the central Philippines. The species of plant, large enough to digest rats, was first encountered by missionaries in 2000, but was given the name Nepenthes attenboroughii by botanists earlier this year after the British natural history broadcaster David Attenborough.

Read the full report Heated Health Care Battle Explodes in the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.