Donald Trump Still Threatening Third-Party Bid

November 29, 2015 by  
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WASHINGTON — Donald Trump continued to threaten the Republican Party with an independent presidential bid on “Meet the Press” Sunday.

The billionaire eccentric and Republican presidential front-runner answered a question from host Chuck Todd on whether he was flirting with a third-party bid again.

“Well, it’s not a third-party bid,” Trump said. “Some people think. I can’t say that yet. Because I don’t see it.”

What Trump doesn’t see, according to himself, is not winning the Republican presidential nomination. He stated that he’s leading in the polls nationally and in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and so he doesn’t need to think about a third-party bid.

If Trump were “mistreated” by the Republican Party, however, he says that he could still launch an independent bid.

When asked whether he could foresee a situation where he lost the nomination and was treated fairly, Trump stated, “Yes, there is. And there’s also a way I could lose the nomination and feel that I was treated unfairly by the Republican Party.”

Currently, though, Trump has no opinion on how the party is treating him.

“Right now, I have no opinion,” he said. “I just know that I’m winning by a lot. I really have no opinion.”

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How James Foley Changed The World, One Life At A Time

November 28, 2015 by  
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On a sunny afternoon in eighth grade, Eddie Martinez was out on the basketball court at Lowell Elementary School as soon as the bell rang. He tugged off his blue jeans — he was wearing his basketball shorts underneath — and stuffed them into his backpack.

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I Knew Gene Kelly. Donald Trump Is No Gene Kelly

November 27, 2015 by  
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In the Washington Post blog “PostPartisan,” Jonathan Capehart describes Donald Trump as “the Big Apple billionaire” who “gleefully dances through the nativist, racist, misogynistic slop as if he were Gene Kelly in ‘Singing [sic] in the Rain.”

Donald Trump’s toxic comments about immigrants and women are completely counter to the spirit of my late husband Gene Kelly and his brilliantly-conceived and executed dance numbers. A true Renaissance man, Gene grasped the complexities of our cultural heritage. He spoke multiple languages, had a firm understanding of history, literature, economics (his major in college), politics and of our fundamental human rights.

A child of the Depression, Gene grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in Pittsburgh that he described as “polyglot,” with surnames ranging from Goldvarg, Lefkowitz, Litschge, Magidson, Madden, Edmonson, Tillery, Quinn, Klein, and Snee. His own father emigrated from Canada, his grandfather from Ireland. His grandmother’s family, according to lore, joined Charles Carroll of Carrollton in the more Catholic-tolerant colony of Maryland. His mother was a progressive advocate for women’s rights, who, despite WWI fears of all things German, believed in early education and sent her young children to “kindergarten.”

An Irish Catholic, Gene felt the sting of prejudice for his religion as the Klan burned crosses on the hillsides to protest Al Smith’s campaign in 1928 and fraternities excluded him from membership. Rebuffed in high school and college because of his economic status, he saw himself as an “outcast,” a feeling that governed his actions — including his choreography and unique style of dance — his entire life. Knowing what it was like to be at the bottom of the heap, he repeatedly stood against discrimination, and always rooted for the underdog and those less fortunate than he.

Not only would Gene be appalled by Trump’s deplorable words and actions, he would be stricken that such depravity could be tolerated — and, sadly, even celebrated — in a race for President of the United States.

Mr. Capehart is spot on in his assessment of Trump’s destructive “deviancy” and, surely, he intended Gene no slight. I only wish he had found a more suitable simile for Mr. Trump and his “slop” than to link him with one of the brightest and most decent artists of the 20th century; a man of great integrity who devoted his life to creating a particularly American art form that now, more than 60 years later, continues to bring joy around the world.

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Fox’s Brian Kilmeade Asks Black Co-host If She Makes Kool-Aid

November 26, 2015 by  
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Watch the latest video at

A “Fox & Friends” segment on peach cobbler appeared to get uncomfortably tense when anchor Brian Kilmeade asked co-host Harris Faulkner if she serves Kool-Aid with her meals.

The question was dished out as Faulkner, who is African-American, presented her recipe ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

After Faulkner mentioned that a summer version of her cobbler can be prepared as well, Kilmeade, who is white, asked, “Do you make Kool-Aid?”

As the video above shows, the lively chatter among the four hosts came to a brief halt as Faulkner reacted.

What Kilmeade may or may not know is that the popular mixed drink can be used to racially stereotype African-Americans, similarly to fried chicken or watermelon.


“Uh, do I do what?” she asked.

“Do you make Kool-Aid?” he repeated.

“Uh, no. No, I don’t make Kool-Aid,” Faulkner replied as fellow host Steve Doocy stared quizzically at Kilmeade before asking him, “What?”

“It reminds me of summer,” Kilmeade replied, getting the gang chatting once again as Faulkner pointed out that she did bring an “adult beverage.”

H/T Media Matters

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How 2 Independent Journalists And A Lawyer Held Chicago Police Accountable For Teen’s Death

November 25, 2015 by  
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The shocking police dashcam video that shows a Chicago teen gunned down by a city cop came to light because a couple of dogged independent journalists and a lawyer pried open government records.

Chicago’s mainstream media barely flinched when police and union officials claimed Laquan McDonald, 17, was shot after lunging at officers with a knife. But journalists Jamie Kalven and Brandon Smith, and University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, dutifully dug in. For months, they looked for hard evidence about what happened the night of Oct. 20, 2014. 

Their efforts culminated Tuesday, when officials announced an unprecedented first-degree murder charge against Officer Jason Van Dyke, the first time an on-duty cop has been charged with the offense.

A now-discredited initial police version of events said Van Dyke opened fire after McDonald disobeyed orders to drop the knife and attempted to attack officers with the blade. McDonald was shot in the chest, according to the early accounts. 

To say the teen was shot in the chest is an understatement. Kalven, who runs the nonprofit Invisible Institute, obtained the autopsy report through a freedom of information request. That report revealed that two gunshots hit the teen in the chest, in addition to 14 bullet wounds to other body parts. 

“The autopsy raises questions not only about how he died, but about how the Chicago Police Department has handled the case since,” Kalven wrote.

Further doubts about the police account emerged when Kalven found a witness, who said the teen was backing away from officers, rather than lunging at them. The witness also said an officer continued firing at McDonald after he had collapsed onto the street from the first bullets. 

That witness, we now know, saw what the police car dashcam video shows. 

City officials withheld the explosive video from the public until Tuesday, a deadline set last week by a judge who ordered the video’s release 

Kalven and Futterman jointly demanded that city release the dashcam footage almost a year ago. A whistleblower from inside the police force had tipped the journalists to the disturbing nature of the shooting. 

“Sources report that a police officer repeatedly fired into the boy’s body as he lay on the ground,” Futterman said in a statement at the time. “If they are correct, this isn’t a case of self-defense. It’s an execution. The video should reveal the truth.”

The police department, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at various times declined to share the video, saying its release may hinder investigations into Van Dyke’s actions.  

A development in April heightened the importance of the video. That’s when the city offered $5 million to McDonald’s family — before relatives had even filed a lawsuit. The city lawyer cited the video as an “important part of the evidence” that led to the preemptive offer.

Smith took a larger role in the story in May, when he filed a freedom of information request for the video.

Chicago police asked for time extensions and blew deadlines, Smith said. They finally rejected Smith’s request in August, as they did with similar requests filed by 15 others.

“But I’m not taking no for an answer,” Smith wrote in the Chicago Reader

So Smith teamed up with Futterman, and they filed a lawsuit to get the contents of the dashcam video. In his article in the Chicago Reader, Smith credited Kalven’s work on a previous case of police misconduct with making him believe he’d prevail in getting the video.

The tide turned against the police earlier this month. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked police last week to produce the video. She said it was “unsubstantiated” that making the contents public would impede the investigation or a fair trial. 

The decisive blow came on Nov. 19, when a Cook County judge issued the order for the video’s release. 

The city complied Tuesday,  hours after it announced murder charges against Van Dyke. 

On Twitter, Smith basked in the victory. 

Guys. It's working. We're gathering around ideas that really matter. Like facts, sans spin, about police violence against people of color.

— Brandon Smith (@muckrakery) November 25, 2015

Still, Smith’s battle with Chicago authorities wasn’t over. He was blocked from attending the mayor’s Tuesday press conference about the case because he lacked official media credentials.   

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CNN Looks More Like Fox Than ‘Most Trusted Name In News’ Post-Paris

November 24, 2015 by  
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What is wrong with CNN these days?

Whether it’s host John Vause claiming someone in Paris’ Muslim community must have known about the terror attacks in advance and failed to come forward, or the network providing a platform for blogger Michael Scheuer to advocate for bombing universities and hospitals as a way to fight Islamic State militants, CNN is sounding more and more like Fox than the “most trusted name in news.”

The latest: On Monday, CNN anchor Carol Costello asked Hamtramck, Michigan, Mayor Karen Majewski whether she was “afraid” of the rising political power of Muslims in her city.

“So, mayor, I will start with you. You govern a majority-Muslim American city. Are you afraid?” Costello said.

“No, I’m not afraid,” Majewski said.

The exchange continued:

Majewski: We have, as of our last election, which was a couple of weeks ago, we elected a Muslim-majority council. Whether the demographics of the city would say that we’re a Muslim-majority city, I think we’re — I don’t think that we’re there yet. I think we’re probably somewhere in the 40 percent Muslim for the city overall. But our city council that will take office in January will be a majority-Muslim council.

Costello: So does that concern some of your citizens?

Majewski: You know, the issues for — we’re a small city. We’re 23,000, 24,000 people. We’re 2.2 square miles. The issues for most of our residents are, can we … can we fix the streets? You know, will the street lights … the street light that’s out in front of my house, can we get that fixed? They’re local issues. And the … the … there’s not a kind of level of fear that we hear when we talk about this on a national level. Really, our city council and our residents are most concerned with the day-to-day issues that affect their life when they walk out their front door.

The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers has come to the defense of the CNN anchor, arguing that Costello may have been referencing earlier comments that Majewski made to the Post.

“There’s definitely a strong feeling that Muslims are the other,” Majewski told the paper in an article published Nov. 21. “It’s about culture, what kind of place Hamtramck will become. There’s definitely a fear, and to some degree, I share it.”

Perhaps Costello was aware of that earlier remark, but she didn’t clue her viewers in to it. All they heard was a journalist suggesting that in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, living in a city with a large Muslim population might well inspire fear in an elected official. At least she had to ask.

This is just the latest incident to invite criticism of CNN. The network recently suspended a reporter who said the Statue of Liberty “bowed [her] head in anguish” after Republican lawmakers voted to make it more difficult for Syrian refugees to seek safe haven in the United States. The network had taken no action, however, when the same reporter criticized President Barack Obama for “wining [sic] about criticism instead of presenting ideas on how deal w/ #Isis global expansion” — or when another reporter asked the president, “Why can’t we take out these bastards?”

In a recent interview, Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept took the network to task on its own airwaves for its coverage in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

“Well, I think that CNN has actually unfortunately led the way in this,” Greenwald said. “You’ve had one intelligence official with the CIA, or formerly with the CIA after the next go on air and able to say all kinds of extremely dubious claims that print journalists have repeatedly documented in Bloomberg News and The New Yorker, on the New York Times editorial page [that] are totally false.”

Gabriel Arana is senior media editor at The Huffington Post.

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Donald Trump Defends Racist Retweet: ‘Am I Gonna Check Every Statistic?’

November 23, 2015 by  
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Donald Trump on Monday night defended his retweet of fabricated crime statistics that blamed African-Americans for most of the nation’s murders. 

“Am I gonna check every statistic?” the Republican presidential front-runner told Bill O’Reilly on Monday night’s “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News.  

The phony stats claim African-Americans killed 81 percent of white people. In truth, 82 percent of murders involving white victims were committed by white people, according to the FBI’s 2014 crime data.

“This bothered me,” O’Reilly said of the retweet. “It’s totally wrong.” 

Trump was unapologetic. 

“I didn’t tweet, I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert and it was also a radio show,” Trump said. 

“Why do you want to be in that zone?” O’Reilly asked. 

“Hey Bill. Bill. Am I gonna check every statistic?” Trump said. “I’ve got millions and millions of people, @realDonaldTrump by the way.”

“You’ve got to, you’re a presidential contender,” O’Reilly said. 

“This came out of radio shows and everything else,” Trump repeated. 

“Oh c’mon,” said O’Reilly. “Radio shows?”

“All it was is a retweet, it wasn’t from me, and it did,” Trump persisted. “It came out of a radio show and other places because you see all the names.”

Trump was apparently referring to Wayne Dupree, a conservative radio host tagged in the tweet. However, Dupree said on Twitter he had nothing to do with it:

.@RealDonaldTrump the person that gave you the false accuracy image was > @SeanSean252 < …not a radio show host FYI

— Wayne Dupreeā„¢ (@WayneDupreeShow) November 24, 2015

O’Reilly told Trump he was looking out for him and “every honest politician.” 

“Don’t do this,” O’Reilly advised. “Don’t put your name on stuff like this, because it makes the other side, it gives them stuff to tell the ill-informed voter that you’re a racist. You just handed them the platter.”  

O’Reilly also suggested that Trump give up tweeting. 

“Give it up for Lent,” O’Reilly said. “Lent is coming soon.” 

Watch the full exchange in the clip above. 

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When An Optical Illusion Turns Your Arm Into a Gigantic Penis

November 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

It’s an X-rated version of #thedress.

At first glance, it may seem as if these British children’s TV entertainers have been photo-bombed by a gigantic penis.

The enormous member appears to be rising out of a glass held by fan Jemima Campion, who’s alongside the Chuckle Brothers — Barry and Paul — in the snap.

To me to you.

— Solita Restaurants (@SolitaNQ) November 18, 2015

But thankfully, it’s just an amazing optical illusion — a trick of the light converting the her arm into something much more adult-oriented.

The image of the comedy duo — who hosted their own children’s slapstick-style show on British TV for several decades — alongside 19-year-old Campion was taken at the Pryzm nightclub in Leeds earlier this month.

It was posted to Twitter by Solita NQ restaurant in Manchester on Wednesday, and soon went viral, sparking a host of these joke replies:

Bar owner: Can you take a promo shot with the Chuckle Brothers? Waitress: ok, but I'll need a stiff drink

— Sean Leahy (@thepunningman) November 18, 2015

@SolitaNQ hahaha had to look twice then.

— Rachael (@_abitdaft) November 18, 2015

This is the greatest optical illusion in the history of human eyes #cupofpenis #chucklevision

— Killie Me Softly (@mickmcavoy) November 18, 2015

RT @SolitaNQ: To me to you. – lol I thought that was a dick in your cup

— SWARLEY (@PuddiSRC) November 18, 2015

@SolitaNQ That looks incredibly phallic in her drink

— George Serjeant (@gserjeant) November 18, 2015

@SolitaNQ her right arm looks like a penis

— Alex B (@ManchesterMUFC) November 18, 2015

Looks like she got more than a straw there @SolitaNQ

— cusack (@Cusxck) November 18, 2015

College student Campion told the Mirror that the optical illusion was “completely unintentional.”

“I didn’t intend to put my arm or my hair in that position at all. The pink bit you can see on my shoulder is not my bra strap but the lighting,” she told the publication.

Initially, she was “mortified” when the image started going viral, but has since learned to take it as a joke. She’s also vowed to be more careful when posing with celebrities in future.

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An Open Letter to Florida State University President Thrasher

November 22, 2015 by  
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An Open Letter to Florida State University President Thrasher,

We respectfully but emphatically disagree with your criticisms of our film The Hunting Ground. Instead of making unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks on the film, we urge you to take a leadership role in addressing the problem of sexual assault that exists on your campus and far too many others.

The film is completely accurate in its depiction of Ms. Kinsman’s account, and its depiction of how her case was handled by Florida State University.

You say there are distortions and glaring omissions, yet you are not able to state a single factual error in our film. That is because there are none.

Your assertion that the film did not mention Jameis Winston’s Title IX investigation, or its outcome, is not true. Both are mentioned in the film.

You say FSU is a “model” when it comes to handling sexual assault. The truth is that your school is being investigated by the Department of Education for its mishandling of sexual assault cases, and many media outlets, including The New York Times, have detailed how your school covered up sexual assault allegations against its former star quarterback.

In an interview on January 16, 2015, you said FSU has been “aggressively” working on a “scheme” regarding the negative publicity FSU has received about how they mishandled Title IX complaints. Rather than scheming, we believe FSU students are better served by efforts to make their campus safe.

You claim FSU “did everything appropriately” in regard to Erica Kinsman’s Title IX complaint. We believe the facts show otherwise:

  • December 7, 2012 – Kinsman immediately reported her rape to the Florida State University and Tallahassee police within hours of the assault. She was taken to a nearby hospital where a rape kit was administered and bruises were noted in her medical record. FSU police did not report the assault to the FSU Title IX Coordinator as required by federal guidelines.
  • January 22, 2013 – Florida State Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher learned that Jameis Winston has been accused of sexual assault but did not report the assault to the FSU Title IX Coordinator as required by federal guidelines.
  • For the next eighteen months, FSU did almost nothing to investigate this report of rape even though the FSU school policy and the Department of Education presumes that any accusation of sexual assault will be investigated and resolved with 60 days.
  • November 12, 2013 – Despite being on notice that another female FSU student had reported being sexually assaulted by Winston, FSU stated in an email that no disciplinary proceedings against Winston were going to take place for either of the reported assaults.
  • November 14, 2013 – Kinsman dropped out of school, fearing for her safety because of retaliation over social media from FSU students and fans.
  • December 14, 2013 – Winston was named winner of the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
  • January 6, 2014 – FSU’s football team won the BCS National Championship.
  • January 23, 2014 – More than a year after FSU officials were made aware that Winston was accused of rape, FSU finally called Winston in for an interview regarding the accusation. Winston refused to answer any questions. After the interview, FSU sent a letter to Winston stating they were not going to investigate the case because Winston refused to talk to them.
  • In the spring of 2014 – FSU, in violation of the victim advocate privilege, gave a copy of Kinsman’s privileged victim advocate file to its outside legal counsel.
  • December 5, 2014 – Nearly two years after the report of rape, FSU finally held a hearing about the accusation. The FSU hearing officer found Winston not responsible despite the fact he refused to answer every question put to him by the hearing officer except three while Kinsman answered all 156 questions asked of her.
  • January 7, 2015 – Six days after his final football game, Winston withdrew from FSU and made himself eligible for the 2015 NFL Football Draft.

I would strongly encourage you to respond to the crisis on our campuses in the spirit of Harvard’s President Drew Faust. In a letter dated September 21 to the Harvard community, she said: “The prevalence of sexual assault represents a deeply troubling problem for Harvard…but the difficulty and severity of the problem make it all the more important that we come together to address it.”

FSU students are best served by an administration that acknowledges past mistakes and focuses on the very real problem of sexual assault on its campus.

Best Regards,
Kirby Dick, Director
Amy Ziering, Producer
The Hunting Ground

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

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Paris And Beirut: Data Show How Social Media Shapes Coverage

November 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

This piece originally appeared at Medium.

There is a strife brewing between people who claim vital stories are being overlooked by the media vs. those in media with the prerogative of deciding what stories to cover. Both sides seem frustrated. Too many important stories don’t read enough. Too many important stories don’t get covered enough. And the events of last week has brought this disproportion to the forefront. The disaster in Beirut might have been under-reported compared to the tragedy in Paris, but is the media solely to be blamed? What I found really surprised me.

Media has always existed for public service. But today more than ever, it also needs the public’s service. Social networks have overlaid the Web, resulting in destination sites (like newspaper home pages) facing consistently lower organic traffic. Instead, you click and read what your friends share on a social networking platform. And they click, read and re-share what you deem worthy of sharing. Your attention not only influences what your friends see, but what people 10 hops from you in the network see. Your attention is important and goes long way in making News, more than you know.

But which comes first, the disproportionate coverage or the attention bias? Media coverage is assumed to be a pre-requisite to attention while at the same time being reactive to attention itself. However, is it possible that one affects the other more than the reverse, especially in cases like Beirut and Paris? Cogent answers don’t exist in outrage or rants. They exist in data.




When a calamity strikes, many of us turn to Twitter for news. Both coverage and attention manifest there. I analyzed the first 30 hours since both the Paris and Beirut stories broke on Twitter. With the help of topic model algorithms, it is possible to classify tweets with links and filter the ones about Beirut bombings and others about Paris attacks. Our network analysis algorithms also assign a “authority” score to every node (a.k.a user) that is tweeting out the link. Thus, the “attention” score we measure for a link does not just depend on the number of times it was shared or retweeted, but also how influential was the person/account that shared it within the community.


Coverage ?—?Beirut vs. Paris


First, lets look at the number of new media outlets/news domains that began covering Beirut and Paris after the story first broke. This ensures its not repeated coverage by a publisher?—?instead its when they first decided to feature the story. In the first 30 hours, 443 media outlets wrote about Beirut at least once. Comparatively, 4507 media outlets covered Paris during this time. We see a massive spike in the coverage within the first hour for Paris. In fact, within the first six hours, almost 40% of the domains that would ever cover the Paris incident had already posted about it. 

But not all media outlets are equally reputable or have a significant large following or can influence the masses as the others. So, we took the top-500 news domains that get most shares (irrespective of these two incidents). These 500 media outlets is a superset of Alexa’s top news sites by traffic. Our goal is to find out how many of these top media outlets reported about the two events at least once since the story broke. We call this Saturation, the percentage of top-500 domains that have covered the story.

Again, we see a wide discrepancy in the saturation during first 30 hours. For the Paris attacks, the saturation of top media domains is almost 5 times more than that of the Beirut bombings. Moreover, there is a very steep rise in coverage saturation for Paris within the first 2 hours, indicating that the saturation was not just larger but also considerably faster. For an entirety of 24 hours since the Beirut bombings, only 57 or ~11% of the top-500 media outlets had written about it. Comparatively, 51% of these top media outlets had covered Paris in that time.

These two charts strongly indicate that there is disproportionate media coverage on the Paris vs. Beirut incidents. In fact, several reasons have been floating around the Web, but very few of them have any data proof to support their conclusions. To judge such an important discussion, opinions maybe salient but ultimately, not sufficient. So we must look at data, and particularly the other half of the media equation?—?audience attention.


The Other Half — Audience Attention on Beirut and Paris


Why does social media matter? Because it has become the most powerful engine of news distribution. Distribution is something the media industry has been steadily losing control of. Under such drastic circumstances, the consumer now wears a new hat of the distributer, whether or not he/she is aware of it. Media is bound to the distribution metric, because it not only craves impact but needs ads. Thus, before we draw overriding conclusions from the disproportionate media coverage data, lets look at attention on Twitter around both these events.

The attention score of a shared link in a tweet about Beirut or Paris depends on the number of times it was shared, re-tweeted and the authority of the person tweeting it. We define a measure of Aggregate Attention per hour by considering all links posted within that hour, then summing up their individual attention scores. There are other ways to measure attention, such as like reading minutes, likes or favorites. But in this analysis we only use shares and the authority score of the sharer?—?two significant attributes that affect distribution.

What we see looks disconsolate?—?attention for Paris in Twitter literally dwarfs attention on the Beirut bombings! The data shows that in spite of the Paris attacks starting almost 15 hours after the Beirut tragedy, the first blue peak did not get relatively significant attention, even though it was uninhibited by the Paris news during that period. After an hour of both stories breaking, the highest attention received by links about Beirut bombings is just 5% of what the Paris links achieved in the same time.


Coverage vs. Attention? —?Who affects the other more?


Notice the red curve of social media attention in the context of Paris looks similar to the red curve of media coverage on Paris. In fact in both cases of Paris and Beirut, we found a strong correlation between coverage and attention, as measured by the Pearson Correlation Coefficient. For Paris, this correlation is strongly positive (+0.74). And for Beirut as well, the correlation between attention and coverage is still strong (+0.66). So between attention and coverage, which one influenced the other?

But wait?—?ok I know what you were thinking: “correlation does not imply causation”. The phrase is so well known it has its own Wikipedia page. This appears to be a complex chicken and egg problem?—?did the coverage hurt the attention or did the attention hurt the coverage?


Predictive Causality


The thing about signals like “Coverage” and “Attention” is that at the end of the day, they are just time series data. The Granger Causality Test is a statistical hypothesis test for determining whether one time series is useful in forecasting another. It has been widely used to predict different kinds of scenarios, including macroeconomic pricing data and neural spikes in the brain.

The ideology of Granger Causality is simple: a signal X is said to Granger-cause another signal Y, if past values of X can help predict the current level of Y. This is a type of predictive causality test based on causal ordering. If Xand Y are correlated purely by chance, it is unlikely that the past values of one will be able to predict the current value of the other. The only way that can happen is if one plays a significant role in generating the other.

I will skip the gory math details here, but when you Granger analyze coverage and attention you are basically asking a question like: does the coverage in the 5th hour since the story broke depend on the attention received in the first 4 hours on the story?

The granger analysis sprouts out certain values at different lags between the time signals, and using them we can estimate if the result is significant. What does “significance” mean? A significant result means there is a high probability that if you pick a random sample, then the pattern you are observing wouldn’t be there at all. That means the data pattern you are observing now is indeed special. On the other hand, an insignificant result means the test is hinting that this data pattern is quite possible in a random sample, hence your data pattern is nothing special.

When I tested if coverage in the last-x hours depended on the attention in the last (x-1) hours, I ended up empty handed in both cases. For the first 7 lags, the data showed insignificant chance that the coverage causes attention. But when I tested the reverse, i.e. if attention causes coverage?—?I found in both cases a significant result within the first 3 lags. This statistical method in combination with our data shows that the attention signal can significantly predict the coverage signal in the future, for both Paris and Beirut.

What this suggests is something I would have never expected. We are quick to blame the media for lack of coverage on an issue. However, it is the amount of attention such issues received in the past that determines media coverage on it in the future. Attention causes coverage more than the reverse.

The implications are huge. As consumers of news media, we share a responsibility for what effectively becomes “news”. Our behavior?—?what we choose to read, what we decide to share?—?helps shape coverage across the media ecosystem.

This piece originally appeared at Medium.

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