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PEJ: Weiner Scandal Draws a Crowd - Broadcasting & Cable

PEJ: Weiner Scandal Draws a Crowd

Accounted for 17% of coverage; economy, Middle East 11% each
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The growing scandal surrounding New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner's tweets to various women drew more coverage than any other story for the June 6-12 reporting period, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's News Coverage Index.

The story, which got bigger as more of the explicit messages and photos came to light, accounted for 17% of the news hole, followed by the economy and Middle East unrest at 11% apiece, the 2012 presidential election at 8% and the Arizona Wildfires at 4%.

Weiner was one of the biggest political scandal stories in terms of percentage of news hole since PEJ launched the index four years ago, coming in number four behind stories involving former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (28% ); former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (23%), who provided some of the coverage of Weiner as a show host on CNN; and former Idaho Senator Larry Craig (18%).

The initial Weiner story, which was of what Weiner said was a hacked Twitter account, drew only 4% of the coverage for the prior reporting period (May 30-June 5), but by the following week, the story included Weiner's admission in a press conference that he had lied, followed by the reporting of new photos and tweets, interviews with women who had received the tweets and the news that his wife was pregnant.

Not surprisingly, Weiner was also the biggest newsmaker for the June 6-12 period with 117 stories, followed by the president with 45; Sarah Palin (the Paul Revere story) with 25; Newt Gingrich, whose campaign staffers exited en masse, at 24; and exiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates with 15.

PEJ's coverage index comprises 52 national news outlets from five media sectors: network TV, cable and radio, online, and print.

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