After President Obama blamed the media for making the birther conspiracy the "dominant" story, ABC News's Jake Tapper shot back that the president had told an "untruth" and pointed to the Project for Excellence in Journalism statistics on the news agenda. "The ridiculous claims about the president’s birth certificate actually was the No. 4 story for the week – receiving about one tenth of the coverage devoted to stories about the economy," Tapper wrote. That may be true, but perhaps Obama just watches a lot of cable news, particularly when its about him. Because, according to the PEJ's statistics covering April 11-24, when CNN, MSNBC and Fox News did cover the Obama Administration (which was just about 7% of total coverage) the vast majority--76 percent--was about rumors concerning his "citizenship and religion."
But here's the curious thing, of those three networks, CNN and MSNBC devoted a far higher percentage of their Obama coverage to birthers than Fox News. The chart above shows the percentage of all coverage dedicated to the Obama Administration as well as percentage of all coverage dedicated to those "rumors."
When CNN covered the White House, 89 percent of the time they were covering rumors, while at MSNBC it was even higher at 93%. Fox News was downright moderate by comparison: birther coverage made up 48% of its Administration coverage. It's worth noting that Trump coverage, even if it related to his accusations about Obama's citizenship, was not included in this category by the PEJ. And of course, these numbers don't take into account how exactly the issue was covered. Here is their raw data:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.