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Howard Kurtz Laments That TV News Isn’t Covering Enough Politics

In a very strange, somewhat out-of-touch article in The Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz writes that TV news outlets seem to have given up on covering the 2012 election.

At the cable news networks, including CNN, the only one to provide continuous primary coverage on Tuesday, the word is out that the presidential campaign is sending the ratings south.

Television, in short, has pretty much decided the race is over, Mitt Romney has won, the thing is boring everyone to death, and it’s time, at least for now, to move on.

Kurtz’s evidence for declining political coverage? Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity had the gall to cover non-election stories on Tuesday, when the Illinois primary was held, while Ed Schultz dared to cover the Trayvon Martin shooting (Half his program, Kurtz notes). Among the network morning shows, neither ABC nor NBC made the election one of its top three stories. The nerve!

Why is that argument so flimsy?

O’Reilly, Hannity and Schultz all covered the election Tuesday night (see screengrabs from Tuesday above), with O’Reilly and Hannity even leading their shows with the Illinois primary. What Kurtz’s complaint boils down to is that the hosts didn’t dedicate their entire hours to it. As for the morning shows, CBS made it the top story, but that didn’t fit Kurtz’s narrative, so he left that little tidbit out. NBC and ABC also covered it, just not quick enough, apparently.

While Kurtz is correct that cable news ratings have declined to a point where primaries really don’t deliver a major ratings bump, the notion that TV news has given up on political coverage is laughable. Every cable news channel dedicated substantial time to political coverage this week. According to TVEyes, the election was covered nearly every hour during dayside programming, as well as in nearly all of the primetime programs. Is the coverage as relentless and non-stop as it was a few months ago? No, but to suggest that “the media’s interest is fading like a freshly shaken Etch a Sketch,” as Kurtz does, is ridiculous. After all, where does he think that “Etch a Sketch” comment became news?

Update: Kurtz defends his piece with a tweet.

I responded to Kurtz with my own tweets:

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