The story about President Trump’s call to Ukraine dominated the airwaves last week, and along with it came a lot more mentions of former Vice President Joe Biden. Two weeks ago, when the Wall Street Journal broke the news about the whistleblower complaint, cable news increased its coverage of Biden, but not online news outlets. But last week, that changed. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry against Trump and the acting director of national intelligence testified in a public hearing in front of Congress, the share of online news stories that mention Biden also surged. Biden was mentioned in more cable news clips and online news stories last week than all other 2020 Democratic candidates combined, according to data from the TV News Archive1 and Media Cloud.2
The impeachment inquiry has crowded out 2020 coverage
Share of 15-second cable news clips mentioning each candidate vs. share of online stories mentioning each candidate in a Media Cloud search
|Cable TV clips the week of …||online stories the week of …|
|Bill de Blasio||1.7||—||—||8.5||—||—|
And it seems like the media isn’t only mentioning Biden more — it’s also mentioning everyone else less. Last week, all of the other Democratic candidates who are still running for president were mentioned less than the week prior, and overall the non-Biden candidates were mentioned in more than a third fewer cable news clips and online news stories compared to the week before. All this suggests that the impeachment story could eat up a lot of the media oxygen that would otherwise have been dedicated to the Democratic primary. We’ll be watching the numbers in the coming weeks to see to what extent Biden continues to be wrapped up in the story of Trump’s impeachment inquiry and how much that affects the amount of coverage the other candidates receive.
Check out the data behind this series and check back each week for an update on which candidates are getting the most coverage on cable and online.