Knight Center
Knight Center


Salacious Weiner story dominates U.S. news, prompts criticism

It's the titillating story that just won't go away: whether U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner will resign in the wake of his online sexual adventures.

Or, as the Pew Research Center's Project in Excellence (PEJ) opened its report on how the Weiner "saga" has dominated U.S. news: "The scandal that launched a thousand puns . . ."

Coverage of Weiner chewed up "17 percent of the newshole" from June 6 to June 12, according to the PEJ's News Coverage Index. The economy and unrest in the Middle East accounted for 11 percent each, while the 2012 presidential election was at eight percent. Weiner also appeared in 13 percent of the stories the PEJ analyzed, while President Barack Obama was found in five percent.

The Columbia Journalism Review provides a humorous overview of Weiner coverage before he admitted to sending lewd photos of himself to females who followed him on Twitter. After repeated denials, the married New York congressman threw his political career into peril when he finally acknowledged on June 6 that he had sent several women sexually suggestive photos and text messages, as reported and discussed by the PBS News Hour.

President Obama's assertion on the Today show on June 14 that he would resign if he were Weiner helped keep the salacious story in the news, suggested Eric Alterman for the Daily Beast.

Fallout from the U.S. media's focus on Weiner's case even led to criticism of Howard Kurtz, media critic for The Daily Beast who also heads the Washington bureau for the news and entertainment website. Writing for The Atlantic, John Hudson said Kurtz was "hypocritical" for lamenting on his CNN show Reliable Sources about the amount of coverage of Weiner while also taking part in The Daily Beast's relentless and often low-brow coverage.

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