October 25, 2004

[fake [news show]] or [[fake news] show]?

Crossfire is one of my least favorite TV experiences, so I was one of the millions who enjoyed Jon Stewart's 10/15 take-down of Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala. I had nothing to add that fits this blog's theme, but now I'm glad to be able to comment on Dan Quattrone's post about it at Doing Things with Words. Dan points out that "The Daily Show is a fake news show, and there's a couple ways to parse that - as a fake news show, or as a fake news show." Dan concludes that the Daily Show is the second of these.

For lagniappe, I'll observe that this is also the internet's a priori judgment as to how the three-word phrase "fake news show" should be parsed. At least, that's the verdict of the simple-minded bigram-counting method discussed here -- "fake news" has 56,000 web hits on Google (whG), while "news show" has 563,000 whG.

If you want to apply one of the more sophisticated methods, using other pattern frequencies as well, "fake * show" has 5,210 whG, while "fake show" has 942; and the unigram frequencies are "fake" 7.29M, "news" 424M, "show" 154M; and Google claims to be indexing 4,285,199,774 pages overall. But I haven't found that other methods routinely beat adjacent bigram comparison, though perhaps in principle they should -- this is worth a discussion in itself, someday.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with why Crossfire is such a cancer on the body politic.


Posted by Mark Liberman at October 25, 2004 05:59 AM