Monday, July 20, 2009 at 7:46 a.m.
Just a few weeks off his Senate victory over Norm Coleman and his shot in the spotlight during Judge Sotomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, it seems the national media can't get enough of former comedian Al Franken. When is he going to crack a joke? When is he going to put on his Stuart Smalley cardigan? Does anyone care?
Online news organizations have pretty clear pictures of what their own readers are interested in because they track -- and react to -- which stories generate the most clicks or time spent on their sites. But Digg, the social media tool that lets members link to stories from anywhere online and then vote on them (with a "digg it"), offers a different snapshot of who's reading what.
Granted, this has all the statistical significance of a ham sandwich, but a recent Digg search of "Franken" reveals 4,076 diggs for video clip "Senator Al Franken PWNS Ann Coulter," -- a clip from a forum in Connecticut in January. Tart stuff. His questions for Sotomayor were a comparative snoozefest.
But the Coulter clash was no match for this New York Times August 9 headline, which popped up on the top of the pile when searching "Minnesota," and which rated 4,965 diggs: "Minneapolis Bridge Hero Offered Photo Op With President Bush, Says 'Nope.'" The story concerns 20-year-old Jeremy Hernandez, who was trapped with 50 children in the school bus during the bridge collapse, and helped get them to safety.
The Times reported: "He left town for northern Minnesota late on Friday, overwhelmed by the attention and concerned that his co-workers were being overlooked. He spent the weekend fishing. When President Bush's staff contacted him to request a photo opportunity, 'He was just, like, 'Nope.'"
The "Minnesota" search yielded some other good, bad and ugly headlines, too. Here are the nine below the Bush snub, ranked by popularity.
June 20 - Moby: "The RIAA Needs to be Disbanded" (torrentfreak.com): 4,289 diggs
Aug. 2, 2007 - "Bridge Collapse In Downtown Minneapolis" (wcco.com): 4,221 diggs
June 19 - "Woman illegally downloads 24 songs, fined to tune of $1.9 mil" (cnn.com): 3,812 diggs
Jan. 16, 2009 - "What Happens When You Spray Hot Water At -20 Degrees?" (blog.makezine.com): 3,040 diggs
June 4, 2008 - "Barack Obama Declares Nomination Victory In Speech" (gawker.com): 2,865 diggs
May 18, 2009 - "Ventura: If waterboarding is fine, why don't cops do it?" (rawstory.com): 2,858 diggs
Aug. 9, 2007 - "Can I have your badge number and the source code to your breathalyzer?" (arstechnica.com): 2766 diggs
Oct. 19, 2008 - "Obama compared to murderer Charles Manson at Palin rally" (americablog.com): 2,612 diggs
Oct. 18, 2008 - "Just how crazy is Michelle Bachmann?" (dailykos.com): 2,436 diggs
Where's Al? His next highest rating comes in June. "Al Franken officially wins Minnesota Senate Seat for Dems!" (2,262 diggs) via kstp.com: "Over five months after the election, a three-judge panel has declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of the Minnesota U.S. Senate race."
Franken's role at the Sotomayor hearings has barely registered with Digg users. "The Judge Sotomayor Supreme Court Confirmation Circus Begins" reads the Monday headline from a blog called downwithtyranny.blogspot.com, which mentions Franken in the post. It drew 48 diggs.