PEJ New Media Index: Two Tea Party Icons Trigger Blogosphere Battles

  • October 28, 2010

As Election Day approaches, comments by two of the biggest names in the tea party movement-GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin-generated party-line responses in the blogosphere.

The No. 1 topic, at 17% of the links from October 18-22, stemmed from O'Donnell's comments during an October 19 debate, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.  In the debate she questioned an aspect of the First Amendment, asking, "Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?"

A day before, in Reno, Nevada, Palin proclaimed that her supporters couldn't "party like it's 1773" until Washington is full of like-minded conservatives. Those remarks ranked No. 3 for the week at 8% of the links.

Both quotes provoked pointed and partisan commentary from bloggers. Liberal bloggers belittled O'Donnell's question about church and state, saying it illustrated her ignorance of the Constitution. The blog response in this case came primarily from conservatives rising to Palin's defense. After a few commentators on Twitter mocked Palin's reference to the year 1773, conservative bloggers jumped in, accusing Palin's critics of not knowing that that was the year of the Boston Tea Party.

The election was also the biggest story in the mainstream media, but with a focus on campaign strategy surrounding individual races rather than choice quotes.

Read the full report, Two Tea Party Icons Trigger Blogosphere Battles on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.