There were also significant differences in the sources making the assertions. Journalists offering either their analysis or opinion were the most common source for every theme. Overall, 57% of the Bush threads originated with journalists, as did 44% of the Gore threads.

But journalists' assertions about Bush's character were more than twice as likely than Gore's to be unsupported by any evidence. In other words, they were pure opinion, rather than journalistic analysis. In all, 15% of Bush themes were journalists' opinion, compared with 6% of the Gore themes.

Statements about Gore were also more likely to come from a candidate than those about Bush, 30% versus 19%.

Perhaps the most useful way to examine the coverage of the character issue is to look at each of the six themes individually.