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Tyndall isn’t backing down.

“I never said it shouldn’t be covered,” he said. “I just said it was covered too much.”

Through the end of last week, there was 1,183 minutes of oil disaster coverage on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, or one-third of the broadcast time over a two-month period, Tyndall said. ABC’s 338 minutes was at the low end of the coverage, and NBC’s 448 minutes at the high end, Tyndall said.

Consistently, a little more than half of news consumers said they were following the story closely through the second week of July, when it dipped to 43 percent, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The press lost interest before the public, Pew tracking data showed.

NBC environmental correspondent Anne Thompson has been the most visible reporter, since she’s on the most-watched newscast and had more stories than any other individual reporter. CBS‘ Strassman, ABC’s Matt Gutman and Jeffrey Kofman, and NBC’s Mark Potter all had more than 20 stories on the topic on the evening newscasts.

CNN’s Cooper said he and the network are playing it by ear to determine when his broadcast will return from the Gulf. He took a brief trip to Haiti for an earthquake follow-up last week.

Cooper has aggressively gone after BP and the government for the pace of cleanup efforts. His commentary on the Coast Guard’s effort to restrict media access to the cleanup, where he repeatedly said, “We are not the enemy,” was widely seen online and helped news organizations’ successful effort to have the government abandon the idea.

The attention of the media going forward is essential to keeping up the pace of cleanup, he said.

“People here recognize that and people here are very afraid that now the media is just going to pick up the cameras and move on to the next thing,” he said. “Television hasn’t done a very good job of sticking with stories.”