[Note: This piece is a sidebar to “Failing At Its No. 1 Goal.”]
Although occasionally Washington Journal will have on two or more guests at one time, debates between guests are a rarity. In the first years of its decade-long run, however, the show hosted more such debates—and FAIR routinely criticized C-SPAN for the show’s habit of pitting right-wing guests against centrists or mainstream reporters. An April 26, 1996 letter to C-SPAN from FAIR’s Jeff Cohen explained the problem:
Others made similar observations, including one Washington Journal guest who brought up the problem during her appearance. On May 16, 1997, Washington Post ombudsman Geneva Overholser debated right-wing media critic Brent Bozell. Noting the awkward pairing, she grilled C-SPAN host and founder Brian Lamb: “Do you typically have a conservative and then somebody who is just a journalist? Is that the typical match-up?”
Now that one guest at a time seems to be the rule, imbalance on Washington Journal is harder to spot anecdotally. But as Extra!’s study of the show indicates, Washington Journal still falls short of its declaration of balance in several departments.