You can say one thing about the Sunday morning political talk shows: they’re consistent. But Peter Hart of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting says that’s “not necessarily a good thing.”
A new study by the liberal watchdog group — which looked at ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday from August 2011 to February 2012 — claims that the Sunday morning shows have become “extraordinarily friendly terrain for the right.” Seventy percent of one-on-one interviews on the shows featured Republicans, according to the study. That’s 166 Republican guests to 70 Democrats. For the roundtable discussions, Republicans and/or conservatives made 282 appearances to 164 by Democrats and progressives.
Obviously the study comes in the middle of a fierce Republican presidential election fight, with the only Democratic candidate currently occupying the White House. Michele Bachmann appeared on the shows 18 times, Rick Santorum appeared 16 times and Newt Gingrich appeared 13 times, according to the study. But tilt to the right isn’t exclusive to a GOP primary. According to the study, the shows skewed right even during the 2004 election.
Partisanship aside, women made up just 29 percent of the shows’ roundtable guests. Eighty-five percent of the guests were white, 11 percent were African American and 3 percent were Latino.
FAIR’s Peter Hart, who wrote the study, told TPM the Republican tilt isn’t just a product of the 2012 election. “No matter what the partisan balance of power in Washington is,” the shows feature more conservatives, he said. “For whatever reason, the Sunday shows are wedded to this format.”
Booking decisions are “not made based on having a wide ranging debate,” Hart added. They’re set up to do the opposite, and are “successful in that.”
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com