PEJ Campaign Coverage Index: October 13 - 19, 2008, A Plumber (Sort of) Gets His 15 Minutes

  • October 21, 2008

Along with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Pastor John Hagee, former radical William Ayers, and Alaska Trooper Mike Wooten, add another name to the list of those who rose to grab, or perhaps be thrust into, 15 minutes of fame in the 2008 election narrative.

Last week, an Ohio plumber, cited by John McCain and mentioned some two dozen times during the Oct. 15 presidential debate, became an instant star. And while that star was quickly fading, it burned bright enough from Oct. 13-19, to make the saga of Joe the Plumber the No. 3 campaign storyline of the week (filling 8% of the election newshole) according to the Campaign Coverage Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The final and perhaps most combative presidential debate of the campaign was the No. 1 campaign storyline (at 18% of the news hole). And even though both candidates produced new economic proposals costing an estimated $100 billion or so, coverage of their response to the financial meltdown barely edged out the plumber (at 9% of the coverage).

As it turned out, Plumber Joe's first name is Samuel and he is not a licensed plumber. But his emergence as a celebrity seems reflective of a media narrative that has alighted on some unlikely players, in this case perhaps in the hopes of a twist in a campaign narrative that seems, at least in the media's mind, to be hardening.

Read the full report A Plumber (Sort of) Gets His 15 Minutes on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.