‘Old Habits Die Hard’ on GOP TV

Following up on the well-documented phenomenon wherein corporate news outlets justify their mode of getting “conservatives to dominate their shows, booking them as guests far more often than progressives” by using “the rationale… that Republicans were ‘in power,'” ThinkProgress (1/28/09) now shows that “it appears that old habits die hard.” Even with a Democratic president and congressional majority, “the cable networks are still turning more often to Republicans and allowing them to set the agenda on major issues, most recently on the debate over the economic recovery package”:

In a new analysis, ThinkProgress has found that the five cable news networks–CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNBC–have hosted more Republican lawmakers to discuss the plan than Democrats by a 2 to 1 ratio this week….

In total, from 6 AM on Monday to 4 PM on Wednesday, the networks have hosted Republican lawmakers 51 times and Democratic lawmakers only 24 times. Surprisingly, Fox News came the closest to offering balance, hosting 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats. CNN had only one Democrat compared to 7 Republicans.

Think Progress’ Matthew Yglesias explained the apparent thinking of TV bookers:

When the GOP is in power, itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s important to have more Republican guests because theyâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢re the influential newsmakers. And when the GOP is out of power, itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s important to have more Republican guests to provide an alternative point-of-view to that presented by the powers that be.

As further evidence of conservatives’ “all-out assault on President Obama’s economic recovery plan”–with “media…aiding their efforts” all the way–ThinkProgress also recently tallied how “cable networks, the Sunday shows and the network newscasts promoted a controversial Congressional Budget Office non-report 81 times before the actual CBO analysis of the stimulus plan was released.” Those outlets heavily featured right-wing pundits touting an “‘analysis’ that had concluded that ‘it will take years before an infrastructure spending program proposed’ by President Barack Obama ‘will boost the economy'”–even though the CBO information actually only was obtained when they “ran a small portion of an earlier version of the stimulus plan through a computer program” that was “based ‘almost entirely on a review of historical data’… which likely applies ‘less during an economic crisis like the one we currently face.'” The actual results of the full report, released only after the anti-Obama media orgy: “It finds that roughly two-thirds of the plan’s recovery investments will come in the first 18 months after it is enacted.”