Your Lying Eyes

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19 January 2012

Anatomy of a Coup

Speaking of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, didn't the transformation of Mr. Mubarak into the Evil Man of the Middle East seem to happen faster than Dr. Jekyll could turn into Mr. Hyde with a drink of his special potion? Who was beating those war drums, anyway? Let's look at how the New York Times viewed Mubarak over time. Was he always a dictator? I searched the Times for all articles containing the words "dictator" and "Mubarak", and what I found was a pattern that would have made Hearst himself smile.:
Note that the two words were seldom used in the same article (and not once in all of 2010!) until January 2011, when they were used 12 times then in February 48 times! Note also that prior to January 2011 the graph shows annual counts, while it's monthly thereafter - so the incidence of the use of those 2 words now occurs on a monthly basis about as frequently as it used to occur annually before 2011. But the difference is even more stark - if you look at the actual articles before 2011, the word dictator was almost never actually applied to Mubarak himself, but was used to refer to a different autocrat in the region - Mubarak nearly always being referred to respectfully as "President Mubarak."

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Blogger Glaivester said...

Of course, it would be more helpful to have a chart of how many times Mubarak was mentioned overall as well - and what percentage of the time he was referred to as "dictator." If he was rarely referred to at all, he would rarely be called a dictator, so the jump could just be due to more articles referring to him.

January 22, 2012 11:45 PM  

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