Swimming, Not Drowning, in Palin and Weiner Coverage

The common complaint that scandalous stories displace important ones is bunk

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It's been a pretty big news week, what with the continuing developments in the Anthony Weiner Saga, and now the release of Sarah Palin's 25,000 e-mails by the state of Alaska. But along the way, there's been a chorus of naysayers who would have the media take the high road, rising above sext scandals and embarrassing forwards. Yesterday, Salon posted a feature listing "10 stories more important than Weinergate." Today, our own Elspeth Reeve pointed to a batch of tweets that sneered at the ongoing fascination with the Palin e-mail dump. Among them, Firedoglake's emptywheel asked, "How did we get a press corps that thinks a half-term quitter's emails aremore [sic] important than the root causes of the dying economy?" And the complaints are certainly not confined to the left. On Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Billy Hallowell asked readers to weigh in on the press "spending so much time and energy vetting Palin’s e-mails," and commenter Ihearthewolves echoed the sentiment of many: "What a waste of time."

Jon Stewart got into the act as well last night, with his "C#@k-Blocked Roundup. Here's his treatment of the Yemen story (there's a Syria bit available here):

But it's not as though the existence of coverage of Palin's emails and Weiner's texts precludes coverage of anything else. In fact, the stories David Sirota mentions in his Salon piece appeared in Bloomberg, the Associated Press, Talking Points Memo, and the UK Guardian, among plenty others. This latest is notable as one of the key media outlets leading the public perusal of Palin's correspondence. But in a way, the Guardian, too, has bought into the idea that its coverage is overblown. Like it did during the royal wedding, today's online edition includes a button that will give you a version wiped clean of Palin coverage.

For comparison's sake here in the U.S., the New York Times has Palin on its homepage at the moment, but below the virtual "fold" of the top box. The lead stories include a report on Syrian forces storming Jisr al-Shoughour, the story about Robert Gates's stern language to NATO, and a TimesCast on Syria. But readers gravitated toward a different issue altogether. The most Emailed story, as shown in the righthand box was a report that France risked fines for not doing enough to protect its native Great Hamster. See? The important news will find its way to the readers in the end.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.