This is from a website called Sand in the Gears (hat tip: The Corner):
The thing is, I didn’t know we’d all gotten together and decided to officially call this guy “the Prophet Muhammad.” I know that’s what he is to 2 billion or so Muslims, but that leaves around 5 billion of us who are undecided on the matter.
It seems to be the case, however, that major news outlets have begun using the honorific title far more frequently. I don’t think that’s very good journalistic practice. I mean, to 2.2 billion Christians, Jesus Christ is “Lord Jesus Christ”—but we don’t expect The Washington Post to call him that.
I decided to do a news search, a very basic one, using Google and some simple filters. Basically, I wanted to see whether mentions of Muhammad have changed in six major news organs: CBS, NBC, ABC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. I began my search in 1998, in order to include a period when Muslim terrorists had begun more noticeably killing people worldwide, but before 9/11 and the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl.
The challenge is that there seems to be a rule that if you are Muslim, you need to name at least one of your sons Muhammad. So a news search for articles that refer to a Muhammad, but don’t call him “Prophet Muhammad,” will turn up Muhammad Jones, who robbed a liquor store in Detroit, or the handful of Muhammads who have played for sports teams, the many Muhammads who run Middle Eastern countries, and all manner of Muhammads who have beheaded Jews or blown up school buses or sniped motorists in the name of Allah.
So I added some terms to screen out the lesser Muhammads, essentially by identifying only articles that mention Muhammad as well as Islam and religion, in order to do a better job of isolating the articles that are most likely talking about the main guy.
Not a perfect screen, but it rules out a lot of chaff, and allows us to examine changes in the variable we care about, provided major news mentions of Muhammad the religious founder didn’t become significantly more likely to talk about him without mentioning the words “religion” and “Islam,” which is a scenario that seems unlikely.
I also used two major spellings, “Muhammad” and “Mohammed,” which tend to be the ones used by news outlets.
And as you can see, between 1998 and 2011, major news outlets tended to give Muhammad the honorific “Prophet” title less than 10 percent of the time. So far this year, however, around 67 percent of the time they call him “the Prophet.”...