Media obsession with Kerry's Mary Cheney remark overwhelmed coverage of Bush falsehood on bin Laden


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.*

Oct. 13 Oct. 14 Oct. 15 Oct. 16 Oct. 17 Oct. 18 Total
Kerry string 6 146 104 33 36 39 364
Bush string 11 89 13 3 5 14 135
Kerry quotation 4 79 46 9 12 6 156
Bush quotation 8 29 2 0 0 1 40

* 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.

2004 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.