LIBERALS, LIBERALS EVERYWHERE
In his March 6 “Liberal Media” column, titled “The Gasbag Gap,” which discusses the Sunday-morning public affairs broadcasts, Eric Alterman writes that “every week” on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Stephanopoulos seeks the wisdom of George Will and Fareed Zakaria “with no balance whatsoever.” By that, he means no liberal or progressive voice. Had Alterman done some basic research, he would have seen how false that statement was.
It is true that Will appears almost every week and Zakaria has been on more than fifteen times in the past year (though not every week). Both provide keen insight for our viewers. However, it is not true, as Alterman suggests, that Sam Donaldson no longer appears on the roundtable. In fact, he appeared eleven times over the past year. Alterman also fails to note, perhaps because he failed to check, that the following liberals and progressives have also appeared on the roundtable over the past year: E.J. Dionne (four times), Robert Reich (two times), Donna Brazile (six times), Kweise Mfume (two times), Mario Cuomo, Paul Begala, Paul Krugman, Howell Raines, Cynthia Tucker, Walter Dellinger, and last–but certainly not least–Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel (three times).
KATHERINE O’HEARN Executive Producer, This Week With George Stephanopoulos
New York City
“Basic research” or no, Katherine O’Hearn’s critique strikes me as a kind of bait-and-switch operation. I never said liberals are unrepresented on This Week. I said, based on the careful research of Media Matters for America, that they are consistently overmatched. And they are. The study, which offered an extremely generous definition of “progressive,” found that during Clinton’s second term, Republicans and conservatives outmatched Democrats and progressives on the show by a margin of 45 percent to 39 percent. During the first Bush term, the figures were 40 percent Republican/conservative and just 28 percent Democratic/liberal. With progressive journalists, as opposed to officials, the figures are more heavily weighted toward the right; 54 to 33 during the second Clinton term and 36 to 17 during the first Bush term (with the rest coded as “neutral,” again extremely generously).