Reagan, Bush, Nixon, Wilson. Presidents get a lot of lip time on cable news these days. Want to know how much?
In celebration of President’s Day, The Wire has prepared a list of the 13 most currently referenced presidents in American history. We scoured the transcripts of the top three cable news channels to see how many times each one was mentioned in the last year.
Out of this list, 9 of the results you will read are the total number of mentions, counted by real humans. However, any number of mentions over 1,000 are estimated (and still fairly human), and we feel confident that the numbers are quite close.
The estimations work this way: our searches resulted in a total number of transcripts in which a president’s name is mentioned. Every transcript has anywhere from 1 to 10 mentions of a name, and when the number of transcripts was too high to do a proper search in a reasonable amount of time, we scoured through the results and took down the number of mentions in 50 different transcripts per president. Then we used these results to calculate an average number of mentions by multiplying the average number by the total number of transcripts.
There are two last caveats before we go on: Regarding the Bush family, it was unfortunately not clear from every transcript if the name “George Bush” was talking about George H. W. Bush, also known as George Sr., or George W. Bush. Thus, the results for “George Bush” are purely the exact number of times that name was mentioned — not exactly scientific. However, the number of times George W. Bush, specifically, was mentioned is separate.
Second, Barack Obama was mentioned so many times on cable news in the past year that we cannot accurately count the number of results for two of the three channels. It should suffice to say that if a President’s name is mentioned more than 3,000 times in a single year on cable news, he’s present in our media.
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