Nate Silver provides an extensive, objective breakdown of attention received by GOP presidential candidates in the MSM versus blogs:
In traditional media outlets like The New York Times, these five candidates are receiving the most coverage: Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty.
[T]he top five in the blogosphere has Ms. Palin and Mr. Gingrich accompanied by three somewhat more controversial candidates: Donald Trump, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann.
Silver then gently offers a dubious conclusion:
Democratic-leaning blogs may in essence be rooting for a car wreck on the Republican side, paying more attention to the candidates who would be the most disruptive to Republican hopes of reclaiming the White House.
At the same time, some candidates who are receiving a fair amount of mainstream media attention ... have yet to gain significant momentum in the blogosphere.
It's incontrovertible that Democratic blogs would be "rooting for a car wreck on the Republican side." Yet that is not, I think, why they're "paying more attention to the candidates who would be the most disruptive to Republican hopes." Rather, blogs pay more attention to the freaks because readers, quite simply, prefer freakshows to seminars. Put "Palin" or "Gingrich" in a linkable headline and it'll get hits -- guaranteed -- while Romney and Pawlenty, two candidates with more realistic chances at the nomination, are online yawners.
I'm mostly untroubled by the blogosphere's obsession with the GOP's baboons and blatherskites to the undue exclusion of others of slightly less baboonness (hell I must be; I trade in it myself). Bloggers never promised to uphold the highest aspirations and virtuous integrity of the First Amendment. What does trouble, however, is cable and network news' ratings-obsessed overdedication to those who will never advance. If one watches, for instance, MSNBC for an hour or so, one would think Michele Bachmann is the frontrunner, and Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin a close second. Meanwhile, he who shall remain nameless is obscuredly climbing the rungs of nomination, hence it is he, of course, who is the real story.
But "he" isn't yet a moneymaker for the networks, while the blithering grotesqueries are. And that is an abdication of their journalistic duty.
I understand network/cable's commercial and shareholder demands. But those are no excuse for continuing to call themselves "news operations," as opposed to entertainment outlets.