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Expand chart
Data: Google News Lab; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The year started with a record-breaking government shutdown and is ending with the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history — in between an onslaught of investigations, conspiracies, scandals and memes.

Why it matters: The chart, based on search trends compiled by Google News Lab, highlights how short the public's attention span was as the media darted from one big thing to another.

  • In the era of President Trump and social media, surges of Google interest in the biggest events of the year only lasted about a week before the public's attention was drawn elsewhere.
  • Some issues, such as the 2020 election and the Mexico-U.S. border, drew more steady attention — but fewer of the dramatic spikes of interest that other topics had.

By the numbers: The news event that saw the largest single spike in Google interest compared to any other event on the list was Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged the Bahamas in early September.

The runners up:

  1. Game of Thrones final season
  2. Government shutdown
  3. Jeffrey Epstein and impeachment (tie)

For impeachment, the highest peaks of Google interest came the week of September 22 — when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry against Trump — and the week of December 15th, when Trump was impeached.

Greta Thunberg, who was unknown at the beginning of the year, received surges of interest in late September and mid-December, giving her more search interest in the last three months than the China trade war, the 2020 presidential election or Brexit.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 mins ago - Economy & Business

The places regulation does not reach

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Financial regulation is not exactly simple anywhere in the world. But one country stands out for the sheer amount of complexity and confusion in its regulatory regime — the U.S.

Why it matters: Important companies fall through the cracks, largely unregulated, while others contend with a vast array of regulatory bodies, none of which are remotely predictable.

Trump nominee Christopher Waller confirmed to Fed board

Christopher Waller at a Senate Banking hearing earlier this year. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The Senate voted 48-47 on Thursday to confirm Trump nominee Christopher Waller to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors — filling one of the two vacant slots on the influential economic body.

Why it matters: It's one of the last marks left on the Fed board by Trump, who has nominated five of its six members.

54 mins ago - Economy & Business

Boeing gets huge 737 Max order from Ryanair, boosting hope for quick rebound

Ryanair low cost airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen over the runway. Photo by Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dublin-based Ryanair said it would add 75 more planes to an existing order for Boeing's 737 Max airplanes, a giant vote of confidence as Boeing seeks to revive sales of its best-selling plane after a 20-month safety ban following two fatal crashes.

The big picture: Ryanair's big order, on the heels of breakthrough vaccine news, is also a promising sign that the devastated airline industry might recover from the global pandemic sooner than expected.