IF IT’S SUNDAY…. Josh Marshall noted the other day, “The bookers and producers of the Sunday shows are committed to the continuing dominance of conservative/Republican marquee guests. No question about it.” The proof is fairly obvious. Josh noted this email from a reader:
On Sunday morning political shows, three Democrats are confirmed as guests: Carl Levin, Barney Frank, and Charlie Rangel. It’s as if Democrats didn’t just win huge electoral advances in the Presidential, House, and Senate elections. So we get the same thing we’ve had the past 8 years–republican hegemony on Sunday. Kyl? Check. Gingrich? Check. Steele? Check. Jindal and Shelby? Check and check.
Atrios offered a helpful numeric count on the guests on today’s public affairs shows:
7 Appearances by Republican current elected officeholders
3 Appearances by Democratic current elected officeholders.
2 Appearances by Republican former elected officeholders.
1 Appearance by a Bush Cabinet Secretary.
T. Boone Pickens
In February 2006, Media Matters released a fascinating report called, “If It’s Sunday, It’s Conservative.” The reserch found that the Sunday-morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, which play a huge role in shaping the conventional wisdom and prevailing political opinions, feature more conservative voices than liberal, “in some cases, dramatically so.” What’s more, MM found that it was a trend that was getting worse — a slight Republican/conservative advantage in the Clinton years had grown considerably worse under Bush.
As a practical matter, from 2001 to 2006, Democrats were largely locked out of the power structure. If the Sunday-morning shows wanted to hear from political figures who would shape policy, and political pundits with insights into what was going to happen next, it meant stacking the deck in the GOP’s favor.
The problem, of course, is that the political winds shifted but the shows haven’t changed. The Sunday after the midterm elections, for example, when Democrats swept back into power, “Meet the Press” had two guests: John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Today’s guest list is only marginally better, despite Democrats’ ascension.
Democrats have had two incredibly successful election cycles in a row, and are now poised to control the White House, the Senate, the House, and a majority of governorships. Will bookers on the Sunday shows ever notice?