PEJ New Media Index: Bloggers Focus on a Supreme Court Justice and Social Security

Feb 03, 2011

Last week was one of those that highlighted the divergent news agendas of the mainstream and online media. While two stories—unrest in the Middle East and President Obama’s State of the Union address—dominated coverage in the traditional press, bloggers and Twitter users opted for very different topics.

In the blogosphere, the No. 1 linked-to story from January 24-28 was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ failure to report his wife’s earnings over a five-year period, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Drawing 14% of the links, bloggers were highly critical of Thomas, accusing him of a double standard after the watchdog group Common Cause charged that he had failed to report his wife’s earnings of $680,000 from the conservative Heritage Foundation. Even though Thomas later admitted the error and amended his financial statements, critics took joy in needling the controversial judge.

Another major story, with 11% of the links, involved U.S. economics. Most of the attention focused on a Washington Post report claiming Obama was unlikely to support his deficit commission’s controversial proposals regarding Social Security—such as raising the retirement age or reducing the program’s benefits. Bloggers gave more of a mixed verdict here. Many supported Obama’s view for both political and policy reasons. Others, however, criticized Obama for being unwilling to take important steps to secure the country’s economic future.

Read the full report Bloggers Focus on a Supreme Court Justice and Social Security on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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