The media has devoted enormous coverage to Senator John Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, as a lesbian during the October 13 presidential debate. Yet President George W. Bush's false claim from that same debate -- "I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden" -- has received less than half as much media attention. (Bush's debate claim is false because he said of bin Laden on March 13, 2002: "I'm truly not that concerned about him.")
A Nexis search by Media Matters for America for coverage of Kerry's remark produced 364 hits. A Nexis search for coverage of Bush's claim produced only 135 hits. A Nexis search for only the candidates' key quotations -- "I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian" versus "I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden" -- produced an even sharper imbalance: 156 to 40.*
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* MMFA used the following Nexis search string to search for coverage of Kerry's remark about Mary Cheney: Kerry w/20 Cheney w/20 lesbian and debate. For coverage of Bush's remarks, MMFA used: Bush w/20 "bin laden" w/20 concerned and debate. For all searches, the search universe consisted of the following: US Newspapers and Wires; Magazine Stories, Combined; Transcripts. Transcripts of the debate itself were excluded from the results reported. The search occurred at approximately 6 p.m. ET on October 18, so most television programs aired on October 18 -- whose transcripts were not yet entered into Nexis -- were not included.