On January 10, 2007 when President Bush made his crucial “surge” speech committing about 22,000 more troops to Iraq, he also included a warning to Iran. Noting that the country was providing “material support for attacks on American troops,” he vowed to “destroy” the networks aiding our “enemies in Iraq.”
At the time, the media were consumed by the news that the U.S. would be sending more troops into Iraq. And for the week of Jan. 7-12, the surge speech helped make the Washington-based policy debate over Iraq the biggest story, by far, in the country. Bush’s warning to Iran largely escaped the attention of journalists.
As the year went on, and Congress and the White House battled for control of war policy, the debate over Iraq remained a top story. So far in 2007, it has filled about 8% of the newshole according to PEJ’s News Coverage Index, making it the second-biggest story behind the presidential campaign. And even as tensions have mounted between the U.S. and Iran—over Iraq and Tehran’s nuclear program—that subject has been dwarfed by the Iraq debate. Thus far in 2007, the conflict with Iran has accounted for only 2% of the NCI newshole.
But last week, in a sign of how circumstances and geopolitical threats have changed, a surprising new assessment of Iran’s nuclear program was the second-biggest story of the week, filling 11% of the newshole from Dec. 2-7. For the same week, coverage of the policy debate over Iraq, a conflict that has seen a recent drop-off in violence, fell to only 2% of the newshole.
Read the full article A Nuclear Surprise Puts Iran in the News on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.