During Zimmerman Lunch Break, Cable News Turns To Egypt

By Alex Weprin 

PM Update: At 3 PM, the leader of Egypt’s military appeared on state TV to announce that Morsi is no longer President, and that the military, along with political and religious leaders, have suspended the Constitution, and will call for new elections.

CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all broke from the Zimmerman trial to cover the speech live. CNN and MSNBC had translators interpreting the speech, Fox News turned to the Sky News feed, which had an interpreter translating the speech.

At 3:15 PM, NBC News broke into regular programming with a special report, anchored by Brian Williams.

Original story: This morning, the “big three” cable news channels were engulfed in live coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial. Meanwhile in Egypt, the military-issued deadline for the Muslim Brotherhood to respond to complaints levied by protesters passed, and it appears as though a military coup may be underway.

Until the Zimmerman trial recessed for lunch at 12:15, there was barely any coverage of Egypt on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC, with all three focused on the trial. All three did present brief updates throughout the morning, and CNN noted the protests in a small box in the corner, but it was clear that the trial was the big story. With Zimmerman in recess, MSNBC and CNN focused their attention on Egypt, with Fox News covering Egypt and a number of other stories.

Back in January and February 2011, the last time Egypt saw unrest, all of the cable news channels rushed to cover the event. They also saw significant ratings bumps (though tellingly their ratings bumps were not as big as the ones they are seeing with the Zimmerman trial).

On social media, the cable news channels are being roundly mocked for focusing on Zimmerman rather than Egypt. The question now is, when the trial resumes, who will stick with Egypt, and who will return to non-stop courtroom coverage?

Update: With the Zimmerman trial back underway, all three channels have returned to live courtroom coverage.