Where Are the Workers’ Voices?

As best I can tell, the labor battle in Wisconsin is a big story–and maybe the biggest labor story in years. But as Amanda Terkel reported at the Huffington Post, that doesn’t mean you’re going to see union advocates on the Sunday chat shows. Terkel noted:

A union official told the Huffington Post that when none of the Sunday shows’ producers reached out to them to book a labor representative this week, several unions started to pitch the shows with affected workers and local and national leaders who they felt could discuss the protests. The official said the response from the shows was essentially “thanks, but no thanks.”

Terkel’s original post has been updated to reflect the fact that NBC‘s Meet the Press has announced that it will add Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO to its roundtable. The show will include an array of Republicans and conservatives: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, John McCain (because how could you have a Sunday show without him?), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.*). Liberal MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell will also be on hand.

Shutting out labor is nothing new. A FAIR survey in 1995-96 found:

John Sweeney and Thomas Donahue, candidates for the presidency of the AFL-CIO, were the only guests who were labor leaders. Instead of worker representatives, the shows invited the CEO of United Airlines, the CEO of Continental Airlines, a Goldman Sachs analyst, retired basketball stars and political satirists.

Last week on ABC‘s This Week the roundtable segment was titled (on the show’s website) “Roundtable: Unions vs. Tea Party.” They did manage to find a Tea Party congressman (Steve Southerland), along with right-wing regular George Will and right-leaning reporter Jonathan Karl. On the other side? Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

(Corrected: Emanuel is a Democrat)

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.