Sunday news shows too conservative, says liberal media watchdog

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Image Credit: Francine Daveta/NBC

Liberal bias in the media? Not so, says FAIR. The left-leaning media watchdog (formal name: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), claims that Sunday morning news are “failing miserably” at booking diverse guests, politically speaking. In looking at Face the Nation on CBS, ABC’s This Week, Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press (moderator David Gregory pictured, right) from June 2011 to February 2012, FAIR found that 86 percent of guests in one-on-one interviews were male, 92 percent were white, and 70% of the guests with avowed ties to a particular political party identified as Republican. Said Peter Hart, who authored the report, “The Sunday morning shows are the showcase debate programs for the national news networks. It’s a shame they aren’t interested in having many actual debates.”

The study took into account the ongoing Republican primaries during the time frame examined, but found that a similar study of the 2003 Democratic primaries still showed a conservative bias on Sunday news shows. Added Hart, “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.”

News shows’ go-to guests are most often U.S. government sources (current officials, former lawmakers, political candidates, party-affiliated political operatives, and campaign advisers) and journalists, according to the study. Further, the few liberal voices in the mix tended to be moderates like Fox’s Juan Williams. Said Hart, “It’s likely that the politically connected corporations who sponsor these shows prefer a center/right spectrum of debate that mostly leaves out strong progressive voices who might raise a critique of corporate power.”

So who were the standouts? Meet the Press had the fewest women guests for one-on-one interviews, despite inviting then presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann three times. Fox News Sunday and This Week featured the most African-Americans in its roundtable discussions, though the total number was still less than a handful apiece when taking into account repeat appearances by in-house favorites Williams and Donna Brazile. Speaking of in-house favorites, George Will, Bill Kristol, and Liz Cheney were the most featured guests overall.

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