For a third week, the story of Anna Nicole Smith topped the cable and radio talk shows, getting 22% of the airtime.
That's according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's (PEJ) talk show index for Feb. 18-23.
The presidential campaign was second at 19% and Iraq policy debates third at 18%, though to be fair if the Iraq homefront story is added in, the war was at least able to match the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's last remains, and custody battle, and paternity tests.
PEJ noted that on the Feb. 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, veteran Paul Rieckhoff, when asked whether the Iraq debate damaged morale, suggested instead that it was more affected by frequent tours, divorces and "by the fact that America is paying attention to Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith and not what’s happening in Fallujah and Ramad."
Spears actually wasn't getting much attention on the talk shows, claiming only 2% of the airtime, though she was getting plenty of play in Supermarket checkout aisles and on the syndicated magazine shows.
Following are the Top 10 cable and radio talk show stories by percentage of airtime:
1. Anna Nicole Smith - 22%
2. Campaign 2008 - 19%
3. Iraq Policy Debate - 18%
4. Iran - 4%
5. Iraq Homefront - 4%
6. Immigration - 4%
7. Libby Trial - 3%
8. Events in Iraq - 3%
9. Global Warming - 2%
10. Britney Spears - 2%