Americans Lost Interest in Libya Five Months Ago

Interest briefly surged when the rebels stormed Tripoli

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It's a heady time in Libya. Muammar Qaddafi is on the run and the country's new leaders are confronting the challenges of rebuilding a war-torn nation. But according to a Pew report released this afternoon, American interest in the Libyan conflict has been steadily declining since the outbreak of unrest in February and the opening weeks of NATO's military intervention in the country in early April, though there was a short-lived surge of interest in late August when the rebels stormed Tripoli. News coverage of the Libyan conflict has followed a similar trajectory (we'll leave the chicken-or-egg debate for another time). In the week following the seizure of Tripoli on August 22, Libya-related coverage accounted for a massive 25 percent of news coverage, according to a separate Pew report. But coverage dropped precipitously the following week once the battle for Tripoli subsided.

Pew finds that while interest in Libya has plummeted, people's views on the conflict haven't changed much. For example, 44 percent of respondents currently believe the U.S. and its allies made the right decision to conduct air strikes in Libya, while 33 percent see this as the wrong decision. In early April, 50 percent thought intervening was the right decision while 37 percent disagreed with the mission. Interestingly, Google Trends, which monitors search volume (top chart) and news volume (bottom chart) offers a very similar view of public and media interest in Libya in 2011:

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