July 17, 2008

Obama Rumors Get More Press

Obama is a Muslim / not patriotic
Mar. 13-Apr. 12 0.4
Apr. 13-May 12 0.5
May 13-Jun. 12 0.9
Jun. 13-Jul. 12 3.8

10 Fold-That’s how much coverage questioning Obama’s patriotism has increased since March.

Rumors that Barack Obama was a secret Muslim whose patriotism was questionable first appeared on blogs and in e-mail messages. In March, the rumors began to show up in the press, though only minimally. According to PEJ’s News Coverage Index, the media narrative about these rumors consumed 0.4% of the campaign newshole from March 13 – April 12.

Since then, however, coverage of this storyline has steadily increased—and in June it gained momentum. With the general election underway, stories about rumors that Obama was not patriotic and had ties to Islam jumped from 0.9% of the campaign newshole studied a month earlier to 3.8% from June 13 – July 12—nearly ten times as much attention as the narrative received in March.

And that was before The New Yorker’s controversial front cover ran. The early evidence, at least, suggests, this story line is not going away.

Tricia Sartor and Dana Page of PEJ