May 20, 2009

NO WONDER DEMOCRATS ARE RETREATING SO FAST:

Politics Punctuate the Terrorism Debate (PEJ News Coverage Index: May 11 - 17, 2009 )

Terrorism coverage accounted for 22% of the newshole from May 11-17, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. But the story was much bigger on the ideological, debate-oriented talk shows on radio and prime-time cable. Indeed, terrorism filled 50% of the airtime for the 13 talk shows studied by PEJ last week. Those discussions were doubtless driven in part by a political dynamic: Cheney is deeply disliked by many liberals and Pelosi provokes the ire of many conservatives.

Ever since the April 16 release of memos detailing the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation techniques—triggering an intense and often partisan debate over the practice—coverage of terrorism has increased dramatically. Last week marked the second time in a month the subject was the top story. And in the period from April 13-May 17, terrorism issues have been the second-biggest topic (11% of the newshole), trailing only the economic crisis.

Last week, the economic meltdown was the No. 2 story at 12%. But that represents a significant drop from the previous week when the release of the much-awaited bank stress tests drove the coverage. Two other subjects integral to the nation’s economic well-being—health care (6%) and the auto industry (5%)—also made the list of top stories.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2009 10:41 AM
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