July 14, 2010

Overseas Officials in the U.S. Media

# of Stories
Pope Benedict XVI 95
Hamid Karzai 65
Benjamin Netanyahu 59
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 42
Felipe Calderon 29

#3 – Rank of Netanyahu among most covered foreign leaders in 2010

Amid speculation that the two men were trying to ease tensions between their countries, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a highly publicized July 6 meeting in Washington D.C.  Those discussions, which produced public affirmations of the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, generated significant attention the week of July 5-11, 201, making Netanyahu the No. 3 newsmaker that week. (To be a lead newsmaker a person must be referred to in at least 50% of the story).

The Israeli leader has generated coverage this year, not only for his White House meeting, but also for, among other things, the May 31 deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla heading to Gaza and the March announcement of housing construction in disputed East Jerusalem. That makes Netanyahu the No. 3 newsmaker among overseas leaders in 2010— appearing as a lead newsmaker in 59 stories examined in PEJ’s News Coverage Index.

The most covered overseas official in 2010 is the worldwide leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI has remained in the news largely because of intensified media coverage of allegations of sexual abuse by priests, particularly in Europe. Earlier this year, the Pope apologized for that abuse. And in 2010 to date, he has been a lead newsmaker in 95 stories.

The No. 2 newsmaker among foreign leaders is Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, whose relationship with the U.S. has at times appeared rocky. In 2010 Karzai has been a newsmaker in 65 stories, many involving controversial comments such as his April 3 statement that he would join the Taliban if he continued to face political pressure from the international community.

The fourth-biggest foreign newsmaker is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (at 42 stories), the President of Iran, who made news for his May 3 speech at the UN when he blasted the U.S. The Iranian leader has also been a key figure in the ongoing press coverage of Iran’s nuclear program and international efforts to curtail it.  
Rounding out the top five list is Mexican President Felipe Calderon (29 stories) who has been in the spotlight as the drug war in Mexico continues. He also made news during a May visit to the U.S., when the new Arizona immigration law became a focal point of the coverage.