The death of Anna Nicole Smith yesterday was a feeding frenzy for the national media, and coverage of the war was drowned out: NBC’s Nightly News devoted 14 seconds to Iraq compared to 3 minutes and 13 seconds to Anna Nicole. CNN referenced Anna Nicole 522% more frequently than it did Iraq. MSNBC was even worse — 708% more references to Anna Nicole than Iraq.
The lop-sided coverage largely ignored many key developments in Iraq, including the sixth downing of a U.S. helicopter in the past three weeks, the allegations that a deputy Iraqi health minister was aiding a Shiite militia in its attacks against U.S. troops, and the death of four Marines.
ThinkProgress has collected some of the many, many lowlights of yesterday’s coverage (i.e., Larry King: “The death of Anna Nicole Smith is the number one story around the world tonight”), along with a lone highlight provided by CNN’s Jack Cafferty. Watch it:
References to Anna Nicole and Iraq on Cable Networks After 3PM ET:
NETWORK ANNA NICOLE IRAQ CNN 141 27 FOX NEWS 112 33 MSNBC 170 24
Time Of Segments Devoted to Anna Nicole and Iraq on Broadcast Networks:
NETWORK ANNA NICOLE IRAQ NBC 3:13 0:14 CBS 2:00 2:17 ABC 2:21 2:58
LARRY KING: The death of Anna Nicole Smith — it’s the number one story around the world tonight.
BILL O’REILLY: Hi, I’m Bill O’Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. The talking points memo will be in our second segment this evening. It concerns how the left sees Americans killed in Iraq. But first, 39-year old Anna Nicole Smith dead in Florida.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: For better or for worse, would you call Anna Nicole Smith an American icon of the early 21st Century?
ANDERSON COOPER: Jennifer, you met Anna Nicole back in the early-90s through Playboy. You saw her at the Playboy mansion. What was she like back then?
GUEST: Back then…I remember coming home from college and everyone was talking about this really hot woman and um…
RITA COSBY: Although it’s interesting — we talked to a friend earlier today and he was saying she was dumb like a fox.
ANDERSON COOPER: ‘Cause a lot of women become Playboy Playmates, but they don’t end up with long careers — certainly not in the spotlight.
MSNBC GUEST: But you know everytime we saw Anna Nicole, the reason people are watching is to see what she said or what she was trying to say through some of her slurred words.
GRETA VAN SUSTERN: Anna Nicole did not live anonymously in the Bahamas. People there knew she was living there.
RITA COSBY: So what was the charismatic blonde like behind the lens, and why was she so intriguing to so many people?
LARRY KING: Larry, this story will have a lot of legs, won’t it?
GUEST: Oh absolutely.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, why the obsession with Anna Nicole Smith? Why have the cable shows and even the broadcast news shows — and certainly the morning shows tomorrow — why have they all focused in on this story? And why are they going to be providing a lot more time to Anna Nicole Smith than the war in Iraq and the possible coming war with Iran?
GUEST: Well, you know, America has fallen in love with Anna Nicole Smith.
JACK CAFFERTY: Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead, Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER: Yes, We’re going to be updating our viewers shortly on —
CAFFERTY: Can’t wait for that.
BLITZER: — the mysterious circumstance surrounding that. Jack, thank you.