Andrew Tyndall is a media researcher with 20 years of experience, and with no special obligations owed to mainstream broadcast media. He is critical or merely observational, depending on the circumstances.
Each weekday, Tyndall and ADT Research clock the number of minutes each news story or feature receives on the three major network (ABC, NBC, CBS) evening news shows. Then he draws up a chart and publishes it on Monday morning.
I would have expected that the travails of lovesick astronaut Lisa Nowak and the circus surrounding the death of one Ms. Smith would have dominated the evening news minutes.
As we see in the graphic at the top of this post, Anna Nicole and Lisa Nowak coverage did indeed eclipse Iraq coverage on Katie Couric's CBS Evening News. Regrettable, but not surprising. Consider the source-Couric.
But maybe there's hope. Maybe a little. Why do I say this?
Number of weekly minutes dedicated to Iraq-related coverage led on ABC and NBC- even if we take into account that Anna Nicole Smith passed on a Wednesday, with only three days of evening news coverage possible.
Even if we project the number of minutes her passing and resulting legal disputes received into a five-day total, Iraq still got more.
"Neither Lisa Nowak, accused stalker astronaut in a NASA love triangle, nor Anna Nicole Smith, former Playboy Playmate of the Year and billionaire's widow, was the networks' Story of the Week," Tyndall writes. "Those tabloid pleasures were not altogether ignored. But ABC and NBC kept a sense of proportion and topped their agendas with the War in Iraq. CBS (5 min v ABC 14, NBC 14) not so much.
I am guessing what we have here is that the saturation coverage the astronaut with a broken heart and the heiress with a stopped heart received 24-hour news networks and entertainment shows made their sad stories that much more pre-eminent.
But let's see if Anna Nicole beats out Iraq, Scooter Libby, etc. At least those who claim fatherhood of her baby are (with one exception) still alive and would be available to raise her child.
Can't say that for the fathers who fought in Iraq, and are no longer alive to raise their children.