T.O. Racks Up Yardage on the Most Viewed Lists

News producers and news consumers go crazy for the latest bit of T.O. drama. Sigh.

(An occasional look at the most popular, most blogged, and most emailed stories on the Web.)

Terrell Owens may or may not someday be the MVP of the NFL. But he is already the MVP of the American media. The Most Viewed Player.

Yesterday, stories about Owens’ alleged suicide attempt — which the Dallas Cowboy wide receiver has since denied — were occupying top slots on the most-viewed lists at news outlets all across the country. The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, MSNBC.

At CNN, for much of the afternoon, “Report: Owens attempted suicide,” clung to the most popular spot — nine slots ahead of a story labeled, “70 % of Iraqis want US out in a year.”

Everywhere the Most Post looked … Owens.

In fact, the Most Post cannot recall a day in recent American history when a single individual so thoroughly dominated the most-viewed lists. World leaders pop up here and there. Bush rises. Bush falls. The Pope climbs a chart or two. But not even the notoriously most-viewable Joe Francis, of Girls Gone Wild fame, has ever pulled off an equivalent run.

The Most Post was happy to note that there were a few holdouts. News consumers at NPR, for example, snubbed Owens in favor of more newsworthy items — such as the number 24 most e-mailed story of the day, a segment entitled, “Lettuce Learn How to Wash Produce.” Ditto at the Wall Street Journal, where button-downed news consumers were busy reading and re-reading a scintillating top story, labeled “Dow Industrials Near Record.”

News producers, on the other hand, were seemingly unable to resist the latest round of T.O. drama. Yesterday afternoon, CNN and Fox News broke into their regularly scheduled programming to provide live coverage of T.O.’s press conference.

At one point, the media’s MVP noted that he’s “not depressed by any means.”

Well, that makes one of us.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.