Which Cable Network Spent the Most Coverage on ‘Birthers?’

By Alex Weprin 

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During his statement this morning, President Obama chided the media for dedicating so much coverage to the specious birth certificate claims perpetuated by Donald Trump, among others.

“[Last] week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate,” he said.

As the Project for Excellence in Journalism notes, the “birther” issue only took up about 4% of the newshole, compared to nearly 40% ion the economy. Of course that includes newspapers and magazines. Cable news often covers different stories than their colleagues in print journalism.

Pew took a look at the numbers to determine how much time was dedicated to the issue on cable news last week:

The cable news channel dedicating the most time to the birth certificate was MSNBC, which dedicated about 10% of its airtime to Obama, much of it birth certificate related.

CNN dedicated 5% of its airtime to Obama, nearly all of it dedicated to the claims.

Fox News dedicated around 5% of its coverage to Obama, only a small percentage of it dedicated to the issue.

PEJ also found that MSNBC spent the most time talking politics, totaling 28% of coverage, followed by FNC at 16%, and CNN at 11%.

As PEJ notes, MSNBC was unlikely to be promoting the nonsense surrounding Obama’s birth, and may in fact have been debunking it. Nonetheless, those segments would have counted toward cable news coverage of the issue. Either way, coverage of “birthers” took up far less airtime than other, more substantive issues like the economy.