TimesSelect Pundit Buzz Graph, 2003-2007

This chart visually illustrates the number of mentions from blogs to columnists in the previously-defined “punditsphere” in each of the last four years up until September 17, 2007 (see the source data). Each year is illustrated by a different color:

9/18/2003 – 9/17/2004 9/18/2004 – 9/17/2005 9/18/2005 – 9/17/2006 9/18/2006 – 9/17/2007

Hovering over a segment will show the number of references tallied. The numbers generated below are from a Google search based on 5 results per page, and starting from the 30th result; this I found supplied fairly consistent numbers (for some combinations, Google Blog Search would inexplicably return no results). Clicking on each segment will bring up the Google results in a separate window. The numbers will likely not match, but are more or less close (I have yet to do the math on how much Google’s result counts variesclick to click).

The writers are ordered by the number of posts in the last year. This helps illustrate the movement in the last year relative to the previous three.

10k 20k 30k 40k 50k 60k 70k 80k
1  Michelle Malkin  83413528544502
2  Andrew Sullivan  23036051403429236
3  Christopher Hitchens  1263509904526709
4  Thomas Friedman  12140241355225971
5  Paul Krugman  18550141046223683
6  Hugh Hewitt  39481279523274
7  David Brooks  16135781573620233
8  Glenn Greenwald  767818635
9  George Will  22961130317658
10  Frank Rich  2814660217627
11  William Kristol  1458820217063
12  Mark Steyn  30121114716227
13  Pat Buchanan  1302865945015773
14  Maureen Dowd  3176984314200
15  Jonah Goldberg  1810722113878
16  Josh Marshall  1122411675513603
17  Robert Novak  5706998813523
18  Arianna Huffington  2073895313267
19  Kevin Drum  2555657711999
20  Michael Barone  396316511129
21  Charles Krauthammer  15761072011280
22  Mickey Kaus  64525977695
23  David Broder  34922907678
24  Joe Klein  26529437500
25  Peggy Noonan  121650057479
26  Bob Herbert  179538176753
27  Richard Cohen  38443955825
28  David Corn  101131545736
29  Dan Froomkin  37931195730
30  E.J. Dionne  91235885666
31  Rich Lowry  71129085645
32  Nicholas Kristof  98231625528
33  Eugene Robinson  26321485330
34  David Ignatius  38728375248
35  Fred Barnes  33833344665
36  Fareed Zakaria  63523674541
37  Charlie Cook  20115293604
38  Michael Kinsley  72419753500
39  Jeff Jacoby  45521523323
40  Jonathan Chait  3148243271
41  Ellen Goodman  27615673074
42  Jonathan Alter  19220372775
43  Anne Applebaum  3626562480
44  Tony Blankley  34618822324
45  Stanley Fish  2107292110
46  Clarence Page  1565261911
47  Roger Cohen  4841765
48  Paul Gigot  2056171364
49  Judith Warner  368855
50  Chris Suellentrop  208645

Overall, the general trend seems to square with our expectations. There is a Top 7 group who have been referenced greather than 35,000 times over all. Three are the Times top stars. Three are bloggers. The other is the beyond-category: Christopher Hitchens.

The presence of Hitchens in the top 7 without benefit of a Times-like institution or a blog followship to buoy him gives a hint to his raw influence. Hitchens is the Kevin Bacon (or Lois Weisberg or Burgess Meredith) of punditry, who by virtue of his rhetorical agility is probably adored (and despised) by more diverse circles than anybody. He also brings more conviction to his writing than any on the list or off. In the newest issue of Vanity Fair, Hitchens wrote a touching elegy for Mark Daily, a young man from California who graduated U.C.L.A. and then joined the Army and marched off to Iraq, only to die when an I.E.D. blew up his Humvee; Hitchens was drawn to Daily’s tragic story after reading that his own writings had “deeply inspired” Daily to serve. Whether the same has been said of #11 on the list, William Kristol, or #1, Michelle Malkin, I do not know.

On casual glance, the graph appears to illustrates a “long tail” that has long been assumed in weblog metrics. But in this case, the salient feature of the tail is that it is thick; it does not drop off enough (The title of a March 2007 Forrester research report by Jaap Favier has suggested a similar shyft of terminology). We’ll examine this next.