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Cuban Refugee Elian attracts more Attention on the Internet than Presidential Candidates

Media Tenor International, Quarterly Journal No. 7, July 2000

Elian's story did not only capture the imagination of TV news but also of the internet community. From March to June almost twice the number of netizens were interested in Elian's story than in presidential candidate George W. Bush. And Al Gore received only a third of the attention of Elian. In April the destiny of the young Cuban was already the most important topic in the newsgroups analysed by Media Tenor. At this point the presidential elections appeared to be no longer a topic at all. At the end of May there were more statements on Hitler than on Bush while Gore was simply non-e x istent in the medium. After all,no news is bad news, and the reasons for the antipathy of neti z ens against Gore are quite obvious.In the case of Elian the Democratic candidate took sides with the exiled Cubans living in Miami,trying to prevent a return of the stranded child to a 'dictatorship'. It was Gore's bad luck that an Atlanta court ruled at the beginning of June in favour of Elian's father, still living in Cuba. In the end,the internal quarrels of the government on Elian had negative repercussions for Al Gore.At the same time Bush had a definite bonus: he played the death-penalty card in June - granting him a higher attention within the internet community.Gore's precarious situation is also shown in the Drudge Report, the web-page of the journalist who uncovered the Clinton-Lewinsky affair back in 1998 . His report on "The biggest state dinner of the Clinton presidency" shows Clinton and Gore during the visit of King Muhammed VI of Morocco, between "Lemon garlic crusted lamb "and "white chocolate ", proposing a toast "on the hunger in Africa ". Gore is already reacting to this situation, intending to further stress his part in successful decisions of the Clinton administration. This looks like an easy game for Bush, who was able to evoke debates on the internet with the negative 'death penalty' topic.It seems likely that he will succeed in an equal manner with the 'terrorism' topic, already the third most frequently mentioned topic for Bush at the end of June.