Sunday, May 21, 2017

Let Alex Jones' tears splash all over you

++Addition++The interview debate between Alex Jones and Megyn Kelly made me realize I'd forgotten to include the latter. Big oversight on my part, as that clash pitted the two most searched for pundit names in the country against each other. The table has been updated to show the oversight.

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With Vox Day as an impetus, the table below lists the 41 biggest names in news and current events online in the US over the last year (from May 22nd, 2016 to May 20th, 2017) as measured by Google Trends searches.

A brief technical note: Trends allows five terms to be compared at a time and calibrates the search volume values of each term relative to the search volumes of the other four inputted terms. The second column in the table shows each person's search volume scaled against the king of the internet, Alex Jones, whose value is set at 10. Values are rounded to the nearest whole number but are ordered by search volume throughout (ie, both Mark Levin and Don Lemon round to 1, but Levin generated more interest than Lemon and is ranked accordingly; Lemon is then ahead of Van Jones for the same reason, etc).

Come and see:

PersonScore
1) Alex Jones10
[2) Megyn Kelly][8]
2) Tomi Lahren6
3) Rush Limbaugh5
4) Ann Coulter5
5) Milo Yiannopolous5
6) Sean Hannity5
7) Bill O'Reilly5
8) Rachel Maddow4
9) Anderson Cooper4
10) Glenn Beck3
11) Michael Savage2
12) Tucker Carlson2
13) Laura Ingraham2
14) Richard Spencer2
15) Mark Levin1
16) Don Lemon1
17) Van Jones1
18) Shepard Smith1
19) Lester Holt1
20) Paul Krugman1
21) Brian Williams1
22) Jake Tapper1
23) Paul Joseph Watson1
24) Neil Cavuto1
25) Dana Perino1
26) David Brooks1
27) Charles Krauthammer1
28) Chris Matthews1
29) David Muir1
30) George Will1
31) Ta-Nehisi Coates1
32) Gavin McInnes1
33) Jorge Ramos1
34) Maureen Dowd0
35) Wolf Blitzer0
36) Lou Dobbs0
37) Erin Burnett0
38) Michelle Malkin0
39) Bill Kristol0
40) Terry Gross0
41) Bret Baier0

Mostly (white) men, around one-quarter Jewish, more blacks than Hispanics, one Asian just making the cut--no big demographic surprises. Jews do tend to constitute higher proportions on lists like these than they do on this one in particular. That this one is based on actual user searches--as opposed to news services or magazine doing the ranking--suggests some circle jerking occurs when the media honors itself. Shocker, I know.

A lot of people on the Alt Right, myself included, were wary about Richard Spencer seemingly walking into a media trap, but the rules of the game have changed--maybe so much that no matter how bad the publicity, if there's something good or interesting underneath, people will find their way to the latter by way of the former. He's out there doing it, not afraid to walk into a den of thieves.

I recall Trump making an appearance on Alex Jones' radio show early on in the campaign, before the primaries had started, and the predictable talk of how doing such a 'fringe' venue would underscore the idea that Trump was an unserious candidate. How wrong they were. In the virtual world, everyone is on the fringe relative to Jones.

I spent an hour or so searching for commentators I was unfamiliar with. The only name on the list totally unbeknownst to me prior to putting this together is Erin Burnett. That may be an indication that I unintentionally screened out some people who should be included (near the bottom of the list, I hope--if not, I really blew it!). I'll update accordingly if and as other names are brought to my attention.

Parenthetically, Stefan Molyneux and Mike Cernovich came in 42nd and 43rd, respectively.

9 comments:

Samuel Nock said...

Could "Richard Spencer's" high placement be in any measure due to the counter-Jihad journalist / scholar Richard Spencer's name being conflated?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Spencer_(author)

Very impressed with Cernovich's placement given that he largely came out of nowhere in 2015/16. (For the record, I had been reading Danger & Play since 2012 but the fact is he really only broke out once the Trump campaign started.)

Audacious Epigone said...

Samuel,

Google Trends helpfully identifies names and ties them to specific occupations as they're being entered, so that result is for "Richard B Spencer; publisher".

Casher O'Neill said...

A few scattered points that occurred to me, I apologize for the length but I'm also trying to understand what the new media environment actually means. Google Trends is an interesting measure, but based on how the data is assembled it is a measure of various kinds of unknowns, marginally-knowns, or reverts to unknown. (How's Milo doing career-wise these days and why was he so big?) So Alex Jones is king of the marginally known, thanks to Matt Drudge and the fact that he is a perduring part of the right wing internet media ghetto. It seems to me to be too easy to make apple orange comparisons here.

GT contains a mixture of normal media figures like Erin Burnett and Bill O'Reilly, who are more usefully comparable by GT, since people can plausibly know them from a non-internet source and look for them to find an interview or hot pics (if you are into that sort of thing). But is Bill O'Reilly really less influential than Tomi Lahren? What does that comparison mean? (For that matter, Tomi Lahren outranks Laura Inghram, what does that do to your speculation about "something good or interesting underneath?")

Richard Spencer didn't "walk into a media trap" it was a mutually beneficial relationship where RS got exposure and The Atlantic and NYT got "literal Hitler." It was a calculated move that based on where he lives and the heated emotions of the Left seems to me to be unlikely to pay off.

Vox Day's media matters post, for another example, notes the popularity of Youtube channels. The real matter as you know is more complex, since CNN gets up to 2,000,000 extra views daily with a duration that is possibly longer than the Youtube videos.

How much of the internet media is entertainment replacement for a certain demographic that has fewer non-hostile TV shows to watch, and more free time?

Is this a valid alternative media comparison?

Anyway, any thoughts are welcome.

Dan said...

I feel like Cernovich should be way higher at this moment.

He has been breaking a number of White House stories since Trump took office.

Audacious Epigone said...

Casher O'Neill,

It measures interest on the internet over the last year, nothing more. That's not meant to be flippant or dismissive, but those are the limitations. For someone like Bill O'Reilly, the internet is an afterthought and his most attentive followers are as old as he is. In the case of Alex Jones, in contrast, the video over the internet is the primary way people access him.

As for who to include and who to exclude, it's a bit arbitrary. Do we include someone like Tony Robbins, who is mostly self-help but who does pass commentary on news and current events from time to time? How about Charles Murray, a lot of interest for whom will come for books he wrote years ago? With Scott Adams, his comic strip is an obvious confound. Hell, we could start throwing celebrities who spout off politically from time to time in there and swamp just about everyone on the list. My intention was to limit it to people whose primary notoriety is for political/news/current events commentary.

On twitter Deplorable Primate asked about the Young Turks. Cenk doesn't make the cut, but he wondered how searches for the Young Turks rank. The problem with that, of course, is that it'll be dwarfed by searches for CNN or Fox News. Putting satisfactory lists like this together is tough!

Dan,

He's being sandbagged, it seems. Everyone else has an auto-fill name and position when his/her name is in the process of being entered. Cernovich does not--it's just "Mike Cernovich" as a search term (not author, publisher, blogger, or whatever).

sclopton said...

Glad to see Savage so high up. Even well into his 70s, he still routinely knocks it out of the park on his radio show. His ability to jump from topic to topic while still keeping things engaging is remarkable. He talks about the Fake News media (especially Fox News) blacking him out, and it seems to be true. Trump hosting him at Mar-a-Lago is yet another sign of how profoundly the media landscape is being shaken up.

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, but I think it may exaggerate the reality somewhat, though, as right-wing media is much more personality-driven than left-wing media. That is to say, Alex Jones>Don Lemon, but does Infowars>CNN by the same ratio? I doubt it.

With a few exceptions, left-wing media relies on corporate brands and the faces are mostly interchangable; right-wing audiences are more attached to individuals, as Fox News is finding now that they've canned Bill O.

Audacious Epigone said...

sclopton,

My audio diet is all podcasts now, but his radio show is the broadcast I miss the most. I'll still watch youtube clips from time to time. He's much more insightful, entertaining, and intellectually challenging than other syndicated radio hosts.

Anon,

Good point. When I was gathering up names I was stunned by the sheer number of people listed as CNN correspondents and analysts in some capacity or another--there are several hundreds!

Anonymous said...

What role do bots play in this?