A recent study by the non-profit Media Matters for America won’t surprise Nation readers. The report, If it’s Sunday, it’s Conservative, demonstrates that conservative guests dramatically outnumber liberals on the three major Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Enraged by a study that effectively highlights the larger representation of conservative views on Sunday talk shows, the rightwing attack dogs are attempting to offset any public outcry against this imbalance with letter-writing campaigns and smear tactics. But Media Matters smartly bent over backwards in its political tagging in such a way that makes it very difficult to sustain the usual charges of liberal bias.
As Nation columnist Eric Alterman wrote about the report this week, “liberal-hater Joe Klein, together with war-supporters Peter Beinart and George Packer, are coded ‘progressive,’ and Cokie Roberts and David Broder, who openly detest both Clinton and Gore while frequently apologizing for Bush–together with former GE chairman Jack Welch and Mrs. Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell–were classified as ‘neutral.'” (Media Matters realized that even if they rigged the report against the liberal side, the anti-liberal booking bias of the shows would still be clear.)
This past Sunday, the first one after the report was released, both NBC’s Meet The Press and ABC’s This Week featured journalist roundtables. As the Liberal Oasis blog noted, the two nets “probably thought they deftly inoculated themselves from crticism, as MTP booked NY Times‘ Maureen Dowd and This Week booked The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Huevel. But both unintentionally exposed the entire problem with the Beltway Establishment mindset towards liberals.”
Even if you accept Dowd as an exemplar of the left, which at least for TV, I think is reasonably fair, she was outnumbered by two hard-line conservatives in Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot and Dick Cheney adviser Mary Matalin, while The Nation‘s editor and publisher was joined by the “deeply anti-government George Will and the right-leaning dispenser of Establishment wisdom Cokie Roberts.” And this was a very good day for the Sunday shows!
So here’s how you can help redress the political imbalance of the Sunday morning talk-fests:
Click here to circulate and tell your friends about the MM study.
Contact the Sunday shows and urge them to strive for greater balance. (And feel free to suggest some of the great progressive voices nationwide who they might do well to try out. Alterman offers a great list at the end of his column and I’m sure all of you have good names to suggest as well.)
Write to the editors of your local papers to ask them to report on MM’s important findings.
And watch the Media Matters site for updates on this campaign.