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2nd – Rank of Gabrielle Giffords among the top political newsmakers of 2011
Seven months after she was shot in the head and gravely wounded during an assassination attempt, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords made an emotional return to the House floor on August 1 to cast her vote in support of the controversial debt-limit bill.
Attention to the January 8 shooting rampage that took six lives and Giffords’ arduous journey to recovery has made the Tucson Democrat the second most covered political figure in 2011 to date. She has been a dominant figure in 328 stories in 2011. The only politician to appear more frequently as a dominant news maker is President Barack Obama who has been a newsmaker in 2046 stories. (To be considered a dominant newsmaker someone has to be featured in at least 50% of a story.)
The No. 3 political newsmaker this year was the subject of a good deal of unwelcome media attention. He is former New York Representative Anthony Weiner (234 stories) who resigned in June following a sexting scandal.
The next six leading newsmakers are all Republicans. No. 4 is Speaker of the House John Boehner (221) who has been a key figure during the debt ceiling debate. But when it comes to the Republican presidential field in the 2012, the two biggest newsmakers have never announced their candidacy. No. 5 is ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (155 stories). And businessman Donald Trump, who flirted with a run and then backed away, has been a newsmaker in 140 stories, with most of focused on his questioning of President Obama’s place of birth.
Behind Trump and Palin are three figures who are actually running for the GOP nomination. No. 7 is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (a newsmaker in 136 stories) whose media coverage has largely, focused on his campaign troubles. No. 8 is Tea Party favorite, Michelle Bachmann (121 stories) who has emerged as perhaps a surprisingly strong candidate thus far. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has been at or near the top in many GOP polls, is next with 120.
Rounding out the top 10 list is Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton (110), who generated substantial attention as a central figure in formulating and enunciating U.S. policy in the wake of the widespread upheaval in the Middle East.
Tricia Sartor of PEJ