Obama’s security

The Washington Times gives a bizarre voice today to a subject previously reserved for the water coolers: Barack Obama as a target of an assassination:

“For many black supporters, there is a lot of anxiety that he will be killed, and it is on people’s minds,” said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton University professor of political science and contemporary black culture.

The right-leaning newspaper uses a favorite mainstream media trick to justify its focus: blaming the Internet.

The Internet is rife with theories that someone may try to assassinate the senator — typing into Google “assassinate Obama” brings up more than 2,000 hits. Anyone from Islamist terrorists to racist Americans to operatives of Halliburton and Blackwater are speculated about, but other, more nefarious Web sites are for real, according to reports from the Associated Press.

Typing the phrase into Google actually returns 264,000 “hits” (an odd choice of words, indeed). A little over 2,000 items pop up when searching “news,” but none appears to be from “nefarious Web sites” (unless you include the Washington Times) and most are actually about Obama discussing the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Typing just about anything into Google is going to yield a ton of results. It’s a poor indicator of the severity of any threat. Here, for example, are some other Google search results and the number of “hits.”

Obama Zucchini – 34,800

Britney Obama – 2.3 million

Marshmallow Obama – 59,100

UFO Obama – 271,000

Ointment Obama – 59,000

Underwear Obama – 280,000

The Web site Editor & Publisher employed another long-standing journalistic trick to get its point of view into the discussion: the unnamed “some.”

…but some may wonder if this kind of attention — mentioning that “Obama assassinate” already gets 2000 Google links — may only increase the threat.

For the record, Obama was placed under Secret Service protection last May, at his campaign’s request.