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The Public's Eyes: On Nukes, Bras and Prodigies

At first, I was pretty excited to see that yesterday's top story on CBSNews.com was "Nuke Tests In Iran?," a story about how, according to sources, "experiments with high explosives, possibly linked to future nuclear weapons tests, were carried out as recently as 2003 in Iran." (I wasn't, it's worth noting, all that excited about the nuclear tests themselves.) It was great to see that an important, hard news story had trounced the competition, instead of, say, one about a dead ugly dog.

Alas, my enthusiasm was dampened slightly when I figured out what drove a lot of the traffic: A prominent link from our old friend Drudge. Still, as someone who likes to think that Americans care more about the potential of a hostile state developing nuclear weapons than Brangelina, I'll take it.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, we have story #5: "Get A Better Lift From Your Bra." Now, as someone who naturally has all the support he needs, the issue of how to avoid a bra-related "fashion disaster" isn't of tremendous concern to me. But I imagine the story did help a few women out, so you'll get no judgment from this corner. I'm also guessing more than a few men didn't mind it – the video that accompanied the story, surprise, surprise, was among yesterday's most watched. (The rest of the most watched videos were "Tornadoes Hit Louisiana," "Iran's Nuclear Aims," "Heroin Smuggled Inside Puppies," and, the most watched of the day, "Beyoncé On 'The Pink Panther.'")

The story coming in at #8 is a bit of a mystery: "African Plant May Help Fight Fat." This is a "60 Minutes" story from November 21, 2004. So what's it doing in the top ten in February of 2006? There haven't been any notable recent developments related to hoodia, "a natural substance that literally takes your appetite away," and I couldn't find any prominent news sites linking the story. Frustrated, I talked to Mike Sims, CBSNews.com director of News and Operations, who was able to shed some light on the question.

"There are at least two sales sites that promote hoodia with an 'as seen on CBS News,' and people click through from there," says Sims. Here's an example. The Web site even quotes the program: "Imagine not being hungry all day without feeling side effects typical of diet pills, like a racing heart or queasy stomach." The seal of approval from a respected news show: A marketer's dream. No wonder the story's stuck around into 2006.

Finally, let's go up a spot for another minor mystery – the #7 story, "Prodigy, 4, Plays One Mean Trumpet." This is a story about young Geoffrey Gallante, who, um, plays one mean trumpet. But the story's from January 10. So why's it popping up now? Probably because Gallante appeared on the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Monday night. If you Google Gallante's name, as Ellen fans no doubt did, the CBS News story, along with one from the Washington Post, are the top hits. Public's Eyes may not have seen the last of the now 5-year-old trumpeter, either: Apparently quite the busy kid, he's doing Leno next week.