In this study, the researchers looked at media coverage of the rumor from June 1, 2008 through Election Day, November 4.
They examined coverage on seven major television networks – ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC and PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer. They also examined coverage of the rumor in more than 25 newspapers around the country, including USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
The researchers employed a relatively new approach to determine how often Americans were using the Web to search for information about the rumor. They used Google Trends, a service of the online search company Google, which can be used to track how often particular search terms are entered into the search site.