America lied to Pew Research. According to a new poll from the organization, the news stories we paid the most attention to over the last few months were the bombings in Boston and debates on Capitol Hill. According to Google, that's half right.
The focus of Pew's research was Syria. (More on that below.) Being news junkies, however, we were more intrigued by this chart, showing the news stories America followed the most closely during the past two months, according to America.
America, we hate to have to call you out, but: We don't think so.
There's another source we can turn to that might shed a little light on this. Google's Trends tool allows use to map interest as conveyed by Google searches within a set geographic area, over time. So we decided to compare what people told Pew with what they asked their search engine.
(There were two little adjustments was had to make: Google Trends has a limit of five search terms per graph, so we had to break it out a bit; and in order to ensure we were tracking the most accurate information, we tweaked the search terms to reflect what people might actually search for.)
Boston, gun control, North Korea, unemployment, sequester
America didn't lie about Boston, clearly. But here's that graph without Boston. We substituted "unemployment" for "economy," since the latter term was so vague.
It is safe to say that North Korea trumped gun control.
Fertilizer, deficit, immigration, gay marriage, Benedict
Almost no one cares about the deficit, America. You don't fool us.
Ricin, Syria, Afghanistan, budget, FAA
Something about an Elvis-impersonating underground-body-part-ring conspiracist being framed for trying to poison the president resonates with the American people, apparently.
Stock market, NCAA, superintendent, Hugo Chavez
And this, America, is where you're caught. Pulling out the biggest non-Boston stories of the past two months, your real priorities are clear. The fertilizer explosion and ricin investigation captivated you for a bit. North Korea, you found interesting. But the NCAA tournament, the third-least followed story according to Pew, is what you were most interested in.
…though still far less than Boston.
Incidentally, the point of Pew's survey was to gauge public opinion on Syria. The net results are below. In short: military action is favored most by Republican men aged 30 to 49. In most demographics, the majority of Americans are not sure or oppose action.
Americans have much more unified opinions about the entertainment value of college athletics.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.