It’s been a busy year in the headlines. We saw a plane mysteriously disappear over the ocean, nationwide protests over the death of an unarmed teenager, the emergence of ISIS, the 2014 midterms, historic action on immigration, a move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the still-unraveling fallout over a cyber attack on Sony.
Social media users followed right along with all of 2014’s top stories – sharing, liking, tweeting and commenting away. Here’s a look at the 10 most popular msnbc.com articles based on social media engagement.
1. ‘No wonder the guy is so unpopular.’ If there’s one big takeaway from the 2014 midterms, it’s that Republicans creamed Democrats, which some saw as an ultimate referendum on President Obama’s leadership.
On Election Day, comedian David Letterman’s astute observation really resonated with msnbc readers on social media. He noted the backlash against Obama, even from members of his own party. “The Republicans, of course, have turned against Obama, and the Democrats have also turned against Obama,” Letterman began. “Take a look at this: Gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon! Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”
The Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen summed it up as “funny because it’s true.”
2. GOP staffer to resign after slamming Obama girls. Not much happens at the annual, presidential turkey pardoning ceremony: American viewers are presented with two turkeys with adorable names like “Mac” and “Cheese”; the president makes a few jokes and (spoiler alert!) the turkeys live. This Thanksgiving, however, comments by a GOP staffer slamming the first daughters – Sasha and Malia Obama – created a firestorm on social media.
Elizabeth Lauten, who served as a communications director for Tennessee Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher, criticized the two girls in a Facebook rant. “Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised, public events,” wrote Lauten. She added, the girls “should show “a little class.”
Yep, that went viral. After apologizing for her digital tirade, Lauten resigned from her job.
3. Female justices issue searing dissent over new contraceptive case. The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision sparked passionate responses from the entire msnbc community. However, it was a moment that happened later in the week that caught fire with msnbc fans when fierce disagreements dividing the bench were laid bare to the public.
The female justices issued a scathing dissent over a decision on different contraceptive case, saying it “undermines confidence in this institution.” “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “Not so today.”
4. Eyewitness to Michael Brown shooting recounts his friend’s death. “I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend. Then I saw the fire come out of the barrel.”
The last moments of Michael Brown’s life were filled with shock, fear and terror, Dorian Johnson told msnbc in an exclusive interview. The 22-year-old was standing just a few feet away from the unarmed teen when a police officer shot and killed him.
That one event in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked rioting and ongoing, nationwide protests, calling attention to police practices and racial tensionsin communities throughout the country. But, the msnbc community shared the friend’s account of events more so than any other Ferguson-related material.
5. Redskins clear to sue Native Americans – for now. Yes, you read that right. Let that sink in: “Redskins clear to sue Native Americans …” A seemingly nonsensical headline called attention to a new twist to the long-simmering controversy over the Washington Redskins team – a hot topic among msnbc-ers.
A federal judge decided the NFL franchise could continue suing five Native Americans who take issue with the term, many whom view as a racial slur.
6. Senate Dems find an unwitting ally in Ted Cruz. Democrats received an early Christmas gift in the form of a spending package, handed to them by two conservative Republicans. That gift came with a hefty price-tag of $1.1 trillion – the so-called “CRomnibus” bill – to fund most federal operations through the end of the fiscal year.
It’s what happened before the vote that caught people’s attention: Two far-right senators hatched a plan of their own, outside of GOP ranks … and their plan went awry. Not something you hear about everyday, and msnbc’s social media following appeared to agree.
7. Cosby on rape allegations: ‘We don’t answer that.’ The renewed rape allegations leveled against comedian Bill Cosby, one of TV’s favorite dads, prompted fierce debate and reflection across social media platforms.
Several women, including former models Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson, accused the comedian of drugging them, and in some cases, raping them.
When news broke that Cosby finally broke his silence, msnbc’s social following took note.
8. College student is now youngest elected politician in US. Social media users couldn’t get enough of Saira Blair. In the 2014 midterms, she defeated her opponent in the race to represent a small West Virginia district. Oh, and she’s only 18.
The freshman college student made history, becoming America’s youngest elected politician. After her victory in the 59th District, the fiscally conservative Republican wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page, “I am honored and humbled to have been elected the youngest member to ever serve in the West Virginia House of Delegates.”
9. Christie camp held Sandy relief money hostage, mayor alleges. As the “Bridgegate” scandal began to unravel, a New Jersey mayor created a social media storm by lobbing allegations against Christie’s camp over Hurricane Sandy funds. Mayor Dawn Zimmer told msnbc that two senior officials of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a her that her town would be starved of relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor. Yikes!
10. Obama gets sassy with Stephen Colbert. The social media gods shined down upon Stephen Colbert’s final week hosting the hugely popular satirical news show “The Colbert Report.” Every day, it seemed like some aspect of the show was trending on Twitter and Facebook.
Still, President Obama’s impersonation of the faux-conservative host during an appearance became of one the biggest social media drivers to msnbc.com. “You’ve been taking a lot of shots at my job, I’ve decided to take a shot at yours,” the president joked before taking over for Colbert on the show’s recurring segment, “The Word.”
“That guy is so arrogant, I’ll bet he talks about himself in the third person,” Obama said of himself while impersonating Colbert.
It’s a must-see interview. Watch it here.