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

  • May 19, 2009

With two of the nation's more politically polarizing figures helping fuel the narrative, the U.S. campaign against terrorism was the No. 1 story last week.

The news included the president's change of heart in opposing the release of photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. troops as well as a highly charged Congressional hearing on interrogation techniques. But some coverage also focused on the second and third leading newsmakers of the week—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was embroiled in a controversy with the CIA over waterboarding briefings, and former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who continued his public campaign against Barack Obama's policies.

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.

Read the full report Politics Punctuate the Terrorism Debate on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.