Do Sunday Talk Shows Have More Conservative Guests?

Talk shows are accustomed to notoriously short lead times to respond to current events with appropriate guests but they had plenty of time to get White House staff or related people on their shows to discuss the ramifications of going into Pakistan and getting bin Laden, etc. So what did they do? They scheduled a bevy of Republican and former Bush Administration guests to quarterback the President’s operation; a point that did not escape the notice of The Daily Show’s comedy writers the following evening. Seems more than a little odd that a Democratic President gets public enemy number one and the talk shows spend their morning interviewing the previous administration that didn’t even show much interest in doing so. Admittedly, it was kind of fun watching all the Bush administration people thrash about for excuses for their failure to catch or kill bin Laden,  justify their use of torture, spin so hard to take credit for Obama’s operation that it made one dizzy, and search for creative ways to deny President Obama any credit whatsoever.

I think the ratio on the talk show circuit wound up being nine Republicans versus three Democrats or 3:1 (6:1 if you’re counting Bush administration officials to Obama officials).

Then last night, Rachel Maddow‘s research staff looked into this coming Sunday’s line-up and noticed a similar trend only much more pronounced; 8:1. Republicans Nikki Haley, Sheila Bair, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John Kyl, Ron Paul, versus the one lone Democrat, Dick Durbin.

These past two weeks do seem a little one-sided. I’ve always felt that there were a few more Republican pundits hanging around the network green rooms than Democrats and I’ve always wondered about the political leanings of particular talk show hosts; for example: David Gregory strikes me as conservative, Amanpour, not so much. Crowley? Completely conservative. Schieffer? Can’t tell.

So I thought I’d do a little back-of-the-envelope calculation since we list the guests of the Sunday shows in our ‘Hot Fudge Sunday’ segment. Here are the parameters: since I’m testing to see if there is a preponderance of Republican guests I decided to rule out Fox News Sunday from this experiment (in the interest of being fair and balanced, of course). I’ll presume few would legitimately argue with me that a conservative bias exists at the old Faux Noise. So I’m looking at ABC’s ‘This Week’, CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’, NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, and CNN’s ‘State of the Union’.

Second, I used the Hot Fudge Sunday segments from 2011 only. Third, since each Hot Fudge Sunday segment has been written by different people, there may be some continuity errors (for example: some may have left a guest off or missed a guest that appeared on multiple shows). I also glossed over a couple of ambassadors to foreign countries, movie stars or others not necessarily politically affiliated, and focused on mainly US Government officials and politicians. Finally, we get our information from Politico and I haven’t taken the time to verify that their information is comprehensive, ie: are the people they list guests or members of a round table format.

My results for the four networks from January 2nd to May 8 are:

  • 98 Republicans
  • 88 Democrats
  • 4 Joe Liebermans (not sure what to do about that one)

If you include tomorrow’s guests, it gets a little more lopsided:

  • 106 Republicans
  • 89 Democrats
  • 4 Liebermans

Still, there doesn’t appear to be too much inequity (particularly if you add Lieberman to the Democrat column). Here is the breakdown by network (not counting Liebermans):

  • 18 Dem
  • 25 Rep
  • 21 Dem
  • 14 Rep
  • 21 Dem
  • 26 Rep
  • 26 Dem
  • 33 Rep

How about that? CBS seems to be the most Liberal of the bunch while the others lean a little right (talkin’ to you, NBC). This is actually how I view the networks with the exception of CBS. On my spectrum the networks run from least conservative to most conservative: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN. I guess I’ll have to give Bob Schieffer and CBS new consideration.

Just for fun, let’s see how FOX measures up:

  • 12 Dem
  • 32 Rep

No real surprise there. Fair and balanced for Republicans only. Remember, this is not a scientific comparison, it’s just for fun. See the Media Matters article below for a more thorough analysis. Does this mean that the four non-Fox networks actually lean to the right? Yes, in one degree or another. They are large corporations which do not typically benefit from a liberal slant (MSNBC notwithstanding). It could be that they lean to starboard as a reaction to the hard-right jerking of FOX News pulling them off-center.

Liberal media bias is a myth; a fabricated propaganda phantom that the right uses to push a conservative message that the networks have no choice but to respond to for ratings. It’s no wonder conservatives want to kill Public Broadcasting; the last non-biased dose of reality in America. It also explains why a comedian, Jon Stewart, is the most trusted man in the news.

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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6 Responses to Do Sunday Talk Shows Have More Conservative Guests?

  1. fopplssiegeparty says:

    Great post, Mr. U.!

  2. mclever says:

    I confess I’m a little surprised at the results of your non-scientific tally of political talk-show guests. I’m not sure what a raw tally really says about the slant, but it’s definitely something worth consideration.

  3. Mr. Universe says:


    I didn’t discover much that I didn’t already suspect other than CBS being the least conservative. Although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised coming from the network of Cronkite that they would have the non-partisan shields at maximum. If I have more time in the future I may dig deeper into this topic. I was also thinking of doing a piece on talk show hosts related to education level. That might yield some interesting results.

  4. Maxwell's Demon says:

    This was inspired by the GOP rection to the capture of bin Laden and kind of grew from there.

    The Ballad of Bush and bin Laden
    Sung to the tune of The Ballad of Pancho & Lefty
    by the late and great Townes Van Zandt
    Lyrics adapted by Maxwell’s Demon

    Each man to highest manor born
    Black sheep of their clans adorned
    One a rebel he became
    The other traded on his name

    Bin Laden living in a tent
    Bush appointed President
    Set on a series of events
    To their eternal shame

    Bin Laden was a terrorist
    He struck our home with airborne fist
    Though Bush was warned in Briefing Notes
    He sat there reading My Pet Goat.

    Protected by the Taliban
    Bin Laden in Afghanistan
    To caves in Tora Bora ran
    Where he’s gone nobody knows.

    All the loyal Bushies say
    They could have had him any day
    They only let him slip away
    Out of kindness I suppose.

    They couldn’t find him anywhere
    Bush claimed he truly did not care
    His plans would take another tack
    A war was started with Iraq.

    Scores of thousands now are dead
    Three trillion dollars in the red
    The Constitution lies in shreds
    Torture in our name abounds.

    Wiretaps outside the law
    Tax cuts help the rich, not poor
    Cutting brush in Crawford town
    While New Orleans is left to drown.

    Millions of their homes bereft
    Bankers bailed out right and left
    They didn’t even call it theft
    No pain for CEOs.

    All the loyal Bushies say
    They could have had him any day
    They only let him slip away
    Out of kindness I suppose.

    The new Commander, Barack O
    Without false braggadocio
    Promised he would make it so
    Bin Laden would be found.

    Dispatched the Navy SEAL Team Six
    Evil Bin Laden’s fate to fix
    The President withheld the pix
    Now comes a raucous sound.

    From the right a whining cry
    Hey, give the credit to our guy
    You know that we would never lie
    So just accept our views.

    All the loyal Bushies say
    We could have had him any day
    We only let him get away
    Cause we had better things to do.

    All the craven Bushies say
    They could have had him any day
    But that’s a tune that doesn’t play
    Save on Fox so called News.

  5. DrFunguy says:

    Thanks for the post Mr. U. bu this is nothing new.
    During the first year of the Obama administration, Gingerich was invited on (if I recall correctly) Meet the Press more than any other single guest; Nancy Pelosi appeared not once. Any one interested in the topic of media bias should read Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media?
    The myth of the liberal media has been conciously sold by right wing think tanks since about the late 60’s and with that consistent a message just about any propaganda could in out.

  6. jack says:

    Sorry, but my own analysis has

    161 Republicans
    55 Democrats.

    Recheck your numbers.

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