Apr 18 2012

Right and Early

Sunday Morning Shows Are GOP TV

CBS host Bob Schieffer once declared that his show’s mission was to “find interesting people from all segments of American life who have something to say and give them a chance to say it.”

By that standard, Schieffer’s Face the Nation–and the rest of the Sunday morning TV chat shows–are failing miserably, according to a new study from FAIR.

Evaluating the four Sunday morning talk shows–ABC‘s This Week, NBC‘s Meet the Press, CBS‘s Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday–for the eight months from June 2011 through February 2012, FAIR found a distinct conservative, white and male skew in both one-on-one interview segments and roundtable discussions.

According to the study, published in the April issue of FAIR’s magazine Extra!:

  • Of one-on-one interviews, 70 percent of partisan-affiliated guests were Republican. Those guests were overwhelmingly male (86 percent) and white (92 percent).

  • The broader roundtable segments weren’t much more diverse: 62 percent of partisan-affiliated guests were Republican. More broadly, guests classified as either Republican or conservative far outnumbered Democrats or progressives, 282 to 164. The roundtables were 71 percent male and 85 percent white.
  • U.S. government sources–current officials, former lawmakers, political candidates, party-affiliated political operatives and campaign advisers–dominated the Sunday shows overall (47 percent of appearances). Following closely behind were journalists (43 percent), most of whom were middle-of-the-road Beltway political reporters.
  • “The Sunday morning shows are the showcase debate programs for the national news networks,” said FAIR’s Peter Hart. “It’s a shame they aren’t interested in having many actual debates.”

    Do the shows simply reflect the fact that a very competitive Republican primary was underway during the study period? In 2003, an approximately mirror-image year to 2011 in which Democratic candidates were vying to unseat incumbent Republican George W. Bush, Sunday TV still leaned right: 57 percent Republicans/conservatives to 43 percent Democrats/progressives (Media Matters, 2/14/06).

    It seems that whatever the political climate or stories of the moment, Sunday TV gives us viewers an overwhelmingly white, male and conservative perspective on the world.

    Read the study report here.