PEJ New Media Index: McChrystal’s Comments Turn the Social Media to Afghanistan

Jul 01, 2010

The removal of General Stanley McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan led to a rare week when the war captured the attention of social media.

For the week of June 21-25, 27% of the news links on blogs and 10% on Twitter were about Afghanistan according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For blogs, this was the highest level of coverage the war had received since PEJ began the NMI in January 2009, and marks only the second time in 2010 that the subject was among the top five in a week.

On Twitter, the week was even more remarkable as, on the platform where attention often lasts only hours, the war became a top linked-to story for two weeks running.

Though it was McChrystal's comments condemning the civilian leadership which sparked news, it was President Obama that came under the fire of most online commentators. Many debated whether Obama should remove McChrystal from office. Some blamed Obama directly for the tension between McChrystal and the Afghan leaders. And others used the episode as an opening to criticize the war mission itself.

Overall, the driving theme both on Twitter and in blogs was primarily a level of frustration with the war itself. Some felt Obama had done a poor job conducting an important war while others thought the entire endeavor was beyond salvaging and that the troops should be brought home immediately.

Read the full report, McChrystal’s Comments Turn the Social Media to Afghanistan on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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