Here at Hot Air, we have had a total of five mentions (in the posts sections, anyway) of the Casey Anthony trial since it began. Three of those came yesterday, and the other two were tangential mentions on posts dealing with media issues. For the national media, though, the Casey Anthony trial swamped out most other stories, including such minor topics as, er, who will lead the nation. Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics researched Lexis-Nexis for the period between the start of the trial and its conclusion yesterday and found that more media attention fell on Anthony than any Republican candidate for the presidential nomination:
While it is no secret that the American media has over-covered and sensationalized the Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando, Florida, the extent to which the trial has crowded out the Republican presidential nomination campaign may not be evident, particularly for those who cover politics every day.
A Smart Politics study of Lexis-Nexis transcripts from CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NPR found more news reports mentioned the Casey Anthony trial at least one time than any of the 10+ major and minor Republican presidential candidates since opening statements were delivered on May 24th.
The Anthony murder case was covered in 899 reports overall, with Mitt Romney mentioned in 764, followed by Michele Bachmann at 609, Tim Pawlenty at 454, Newt Gingrich at 438, and Herman Cain at 321.
Trailing further behind were 2012 newcomers and long-shot Republican candidates Jon Huntsman at 299 reports, Ron Paul at 269, Rick Santorum at 251, Thad McCotter at 30, Gary Johnson at 19, and Buddy Roemer at one.
Not surprisingly, CNN came in first place in the Casey sweepstakes, with a whopping 567 reports, including those at its sister channel HLN, which covered the trial live. CNN had more invested in promoting the trial as a news story. Remember this when media outlets try to argue that there is a “firewall” between news reporting and editorial and sales groups. ABC finished second with 173 reports in the 42-day period, and Fox got the bronze medal with 122.
Remarkably, MSNBC only had one news report on the Casey Anthony trial, although Eric adds a caveat that MSNBC doesn’t make its weekend transcripts available through Lexis-Nexis as other media outlets do. That’s a rare showing of journalistic restraint for the “Lean Forward” channel.
As for the non-candidates in the race, they don’t do much better, even though they have received plenty of attention. Sarah Palin only got 721 mentions in 42 days (“only”!), which puts her just behind Romney but ahead of everyone else — and well below the Casey Anthony story. Rick Perry edged Jon Huntsman at 301.
Yesterday, we heard from a number of commenters and readers about their frustration with the blanket coverage of the trial. The numbers show that they have a point, and that the national media has a problem with its priorities.