Justin Elliot at Salon.com has become (I think) just the 2nd person in the “big leagues”, joining Ben Smith at Politico.com to notice what I has first pointed out in September –
THE MOSQUE STORY IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED NEWS
Elliot uses a neat graphic from Google News to show the timeline of national news coverage about the mosque to show that the Mosque story is dead. But Elliot fails to point to the obvious reason why and instead tries to make a political point. He writes:
There can be no single explanation for why a news story of this magnitude disappears. But, given the timeline here, it seems likely that the electoral calendar played a role. National Republicans who used Park51 as a bludgeon against Democrats suddenly were less interested in talking about the project after the election. In addition, there was suddenly action in Congress again after Nov. 2. And political analysts turned their focus to what Washington would look like with a Republican House majority in 2011.
A story starts getting good coverage in July, gets major coverage in August, starts a downward trend in September and then virtually disappears.
I say Elliot is wrong and there is a single, simple explanation and I said it on September 21st –
(T)his was a classic “summer story”. That is, a minor event or controversy that gets enormous attention in the media because there is less real news happening in August. Previous examples include shark attacks and Chandra Levy.