SUNDAY SHOW BOOKERS NEED BIGGER ROLODEXES…. Sunday public affairs shows would be easier to ignore if the interviews didn’t play a role in shaping the conventional wisdom. And as we continue to learn, these shows choose guests who look and think a certain way.
It is a perennial complaint about American television news: that the guests on the Sunday morning public affairs programs are not representative of the country’s diversity.
A new study says the guest bookings do not represent the population of Congress, either.
“In 2009 the talk shows told us (by their selection of Congressional guests) that the people who matter are disproportionately white, male, senior and Republican — disproportionate not just when compared to the American population overall, but also when compared to the population of Congress itself,” concluded a study published this month in The Green Bag, a quarterly journal supported by the George Mason University School of Law.
The same study reported on the members of Congress who appeared the most frequently on any of the five main Sunday morning shows. Only four lawmakers made it into double digits — Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Jon Kyl — and they’re all Republicans. (The list didn’t include Newt Gingrich because he’s not currently in Congress.)
The GOP congressional leaders made 43 Sunday show appearances. The Democratic leadership made 11 appearances.
Note the context here — the study only monitored 2009. In other words, in the immediate aftermath of the most successful Democratic election cycle in a generation, at a point in which Democrats had their biggest House and Senate majorities in decades, and with the Democratic agenda shaping the policy landscape, the Sunday shows still relied heavily on white, male, senior, and Republican guests.