How the Sunday shows operate

A few months ago, the line-up for the Sunday morning public-affairs shows was especially egregious. The guest lists featured two Republican senators, three Republican House members, three likely Republican presidential candidates, and exactly zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

Today, with the Sunday shows turning their attention to bin Laden’s demise and national security, the lineup isn’t quite as bad, but it’s close.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Tom Donilon, President Obama’s National Security Adviser, will have a very heavy presence, appearing on three of the five main Sunday shows (Meet the Press, This Week, and Fox News Sunday). Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) will be on Face the Nation, and former White House communications director Anita Dunn will be on CNN’s State of the Union.

And then, there’s the Republican side of the aisle.

* Meet the Press will have two Bush administration officials (former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former CIA Director, Ret. Gen. Michael Hayden) and a former Republican presidential candidate (former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani).

* Face the Nation will host another Bush administration official (former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld).

* This Week will talk to two other Bush administration officials (former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Liz Cheney).

* Fox News Sunday will have another Bush administration official (Dick Cheney).

* State of the Union will talk to one Republican senator (Dick Lugar) and a former Republican House member (Tom Davis).

If we expand this a little more, and include CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, viewers will also see two Bush administration officials (Rice and Hayden) and no Democrats.

So, the week that the Obama administration scores one of the most significant national security victories in years, the Sunday shows really want to hear from … Republicans.

As Ben Armbruster put it:

That’s right. Despite the fact that President Obama gave the order to take down bin Laden, only one Obama administration official will take part in this Sunday’s festivities. By contrast, there are 5 former Bush administration officials making appearances. In total, 7 Republicans are on the networks this Sunday versus 2 Democrats. Torture apologists have been arguing this week that Bush’s torture program is responsible for getting bin Laden. Conveniently, this Sunday, some of the Bush administration officials involved in authorizing it will get their chance to defend themselves.

Now, the guest lists have expanded a bit since Armbruster wrote that on Friday, but the ratio is no better — by my count, nine Republicans from Congress or the Bush administration will be on this morning, as compared to three Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

In other words, it’s a fairly typical Sunday — even after a major success story for a Democratic White House.