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Casey Anthony Mentioned in More Broadcast News Reports than Any GOP Presidential Candidate Since Day 1 of Trial

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Anthony is mentioned in nearly 900 reports since May 24th opening statements across six major broadcast outlets; Romney (764) and Bachmann (609) lead the GOP field

caseyanthony.jpgWhile 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.

(Note: This study did not code the relative length of coverage - simply whether or not Casey Anthony or the GOP hopeful was mentioned at least one time in the particular news broadcast).

While the Anthony murder case popped up in more reports overall, there was significant variation among the networks.

CNN (due in large part to programming at its Headline News sister station) has been by far the most fixated on the Anthony case, with 567 reports mentioning the trial over the last 42 days.

ABC News was next with 173 reports covering the case (many on Good Morning America), followed by FOX News at 122, and CBS News at 36.

On the other end of the spectrum, MSNBC's featured programming devoted only one news report to the trial with no reports on MPR through early Tuesday.

(Note: Lexis-Nexis coverage of MSNBC transcripts is not as complete when compared to the other news outlets. MSNBC transcripts are compiled for Monday through Friday only as opposed to every day for the other media outlets).

On CNN, Mitt Romney was mentioned the most of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates at 333 reports with Michele Bachmann a distant second at 243.

The Anthony trial also was mentioned in more news reports on ABC than any of the GOP candidates during the last month and a half, leading the way with 173 programs with Bachmann at 53 and Romney at 50.

Romney, meanwhile, was the most-discussed GOP candidate during this six-week window on FOX (148 reports), MSNBC (107), NPR (71), and CBS (55).

The frequency with which Romney was covered vis-à-vis his GOP rivals in these broadcast outlets is to be expected given his unofficial front runner status at this early juncture in the campaign.

Likewise, Bachmann's giant splash into the 2012 race over the last month prompted her name to come up on the most reports at ABC among the GOP field (53) and second largest number at FOX (131), MSNBC (96), NPR (49), and CBS (37) since late May.

Pawlenty was mentioned on the third largest number of MSNBC news stories with 86 while Gingrich was third on NPR with 48.

Perhaps the most under-covered GOP candidate during this six-week span was businessman Herman Cain.

Among announced Republican candidates Cain is polling in third place behind Romney and Bachmann according to a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls.

Cain was also one of just three candidates to reach double-digits in the latest Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus voters.

Despite his strong early showing, Cain lags fifth for news report mentions among the six networks studied, well behind Romney, Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Gingrich, and only just ahead of recently announced candidate Jon Huntsman of Utah.

Similarly, Texas Congressman Ron Paul is running fourth in national polls among announced candidates but was 7th in terms of the number of news stories that covered his campaign.

Now that the Casey Anthony trial has ended - with only the sentencing phase yet to be determined - it will be interesting to see if coverage of the Republican field spikes once the news vacuum is left behind after the media exodus from Orlando.

For the record, Barack Obama was mentioned in more reports than Casey Anthony across all of the six news outlets tracked - at nearly 2,100 reports in total.

Addendum: As for prominent non-candidates, Sarah Palin (721 reports) and Rick Perry (301) also trailed Anthony during this span.

Number of News Reports Mentioning Casey Anthony and 2012 GOP Presidential Candidates by Outlet

Individual
CNN/HLN
FOX
MSNBC
ABC
CBS
NPR
Total
Casey Anthony
567
122
1
173
36
0
899
Mitt Romney
333
148
107
50
55
71
764
Michele Bachmann
243
131
96
53
37
49
609
Tim Pawlenty
174
98
86
24
29
43
454
Newt Gingrich
187
82
78
21
22
48
438
Herman Cain
140
93
45
8
10
25
321
Jon Huntsman
129
50
51
22
21
26
299
Ron Paul
151
54
35
2
5
22
269
Rick Santorum
135
47
34
10
9
16
251
Thad McCotter
13
5
10
1
1
0
30
Gary Johnson
4
10
1
0
0
4
19
Buddy Roemer
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
Compiled by Smart Politics from a Lexis-Nexis search from May 24, 2011 through July 4, 2011.

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2 Comments


  • GOP presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann could use the apparent / alleged dysfunctional family issue of the Anthony family and its widespread media coverage to help garner grass roots family related support for their bids on the Republican presidential nomination campaign. By all assessments, the Anthony families dysfunctional specified by former fiance, Jesse Grund, could be well established based on his testimony.

  • This trial is a great example of how the media convicts and quite honestly refreshing to see that they don't always have to power to convict.

  • Leave a comment


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