Thursday, April 05, 2007



I continue to be puzzled why the usually astute folks at the Pew Center for The People and the Press are pushing this angle that news consumers aren't interested in the unfolding AG purge story; a mini-meme that has spread throughout the Beltway. Last week, Media Matters detailed the flaws in the Pew narrative. Yet this week, Pew returned with this headline: Attorney Firings: Important but Not Interesting. There's no doubt people think the story's important to the country; a whopping 68 percent, according to Pew's own numbers. Yet the "not interesting" angle remains very thin. Again, Pew's most recent survey shows 20 percent of Americans are paying "very close" attention to the scandal. And although Pew reports it's "only" 20 percent, that 20 percent puts Purge-gate right on par with the percentage of people who were paying very close attention to the Janet Jackson Super Bowl controversy (February 2004), the murder of Laci Peterson (July 2003), the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton (January 1999), and the O.J. Simpson trial (July 1995). In fact, that 20 percent, in terms of real-time news consumer interest, puts Purge-gate ahead of the campaign examination of Bill Clinton's alleged extramarital affairs (March 1992), Paula Jones' sexual harassment accusations (May 1994), and the Whitewater investigation (July 1996). I don't recall much media chatter back then about how those sordid Clinton stories were "not interesting."