The US headed into the 2021 Labor Day weekend with four times as many confirmed infections and twice as many hospitalizations as the same time last year, but as the timeline below shows, television news has actually been largely mentioning the pandemic less than it did at the same time last year. In fact, since the start of the year, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have covered the pandemic significantly less than they did last year. Notably, however, last year the three channels mentioned the pandemic at very different levels, whereas since the start of this year they have largely moved in lockstep.
Since the start of the pandemic, CNN has mentioned it more than a quarter million times, while Fox has mentioned it far less at 173,048 mentions to date.
Instead of spoken mentions, the timeline below tracks the total daily seconds of airtime in which the pandemic was mentioned somewhere in the onscreen text, showing a similar sharp decrease in airtime in 2021 compared with 2020 and a decrease in recent weeks compared with Labor Day 2020.
Since the start of the pandemic, CNN has mentioned the pandemic somewhere in its onscreen text for more than 3,742 hours, followed by MSNBC's 2,337 hours and Fox News' 1,449 hours.