Television News Turned Its Attention Back To Afghanistan But Web Searches Peaked Two Weeks Ago | Video | RealClearPolitics

Television News Turned Its Attention Back To Afghanistan But Web Searches Peaked Two Weeks Ago

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How have the past two weeks of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan been covered? The timeline below shows how quickly mentions across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News faded after the Taliban's swift takeover of the country. Mentions peaked from August 15 to 17, then dropped across all three channels over the following days, though Fox News mentions declined less than CNN and MSNBC, which pivoted much more strongly away from the withdrawal story. Fox News reached a minimum point on August 21 and has ramped up its coverage each day since, while CNN and MSNBC hit their lowest point a day later. All three increased their mentions steadily through August 27 and substantially decreased their coverage on August 28 (the most recent day of data).


GDELT Project


To compare this with search interest in Afghanistan, the graph below overlays US-based Google Trends web searches for "afghanistan" on top of the television coverage trends from above. (Google News Trends shows the same trendline so it is not an issue of web versus news searches). Since the two datasets have different Y scales, the timelines are converted to "Z-Scores" in which the Y axis is standard deviations from the mean.


Here web searches can be seen to lag television news coverage and to be extremely short-lived, with a surge of interest from August 15 to 16, then an exponential drop-off through August 25 before recovering on August 26 (the most recent day of data available). Thus, search interest appears to have been driven at first by the surge of news coveage, but the nation appears to have turned quickly away even as news outlets continued to cover the story.



Google Trends

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