PEJ News Coverage Index: July 27 - Aug. 2, 2009, High-Stakes Health Care Fight Drives the News

  • August 04, 2009

For the second week in a row, health care reform topped the nation's news agenda, with the legislative battle increasingly portrayed in the press as a crucial test of Barack Obama's political skills and strengths.

The issue accounted for 19% of the newshole from July 27-August 2, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. While that represents a moderate drop from the coverage level in PEJ's News Coverage Index previous week (when it was 25%), the health care debate, or at least its politics, was the overwhelmingly dominant story on the radio and cable talk shows. In that political polarized element of the media culture, the politics of health care last week accounted for 40% of the airtime studied.

The emergence of health care as the hot topic on the ideological talk shows signals its status as the latest battleground in the young Obama presidency. The subject has triggered the most intense partisan fight in Washington since the $787 billion stimulus package passed in mid-February.

Read the full report High-Stakes Health Care Fight Drives the News on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.