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Media Matters 1

MARCH 15, 2007
3:38 PM

CONTACT: Media Matters
Karl Firsch, 202-756-4103 o. / 202-580-5813 c.


Sunday Shows Break Their Silence
Three Days After the Release of Media Matters Report on Sunday Show Imbalance, Two Shows Attempt to Respond

WASHINGTON, D.C. - March 15 - Three days after the release of Media Matters for America's report documenting the continued dominance of Republican and conservative voices on the influential network Sunday morning shows, representatives from two of the shows in question, CBS' Face the Nation and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, have finally broken their silence, while NBC's Meet the Press has failed to respond entirely. In their responses, Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday failed to address the findings of the report, "If It's Sunday, It's Still Conservative."

CBS' Face the Nation's Carin Pratt, responding to the study's finding that her show hosted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) nine times in 2005 and 2006, said: "We love Graham. He's a great guy." Pratt then offered a defense of the overwhelming number of appearances of administration officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying, "It doesn't matter whether Secretary Rice is a conservative or a liberal. She's the secretary of state."

FACT: Face the Nation is the worst offender when it comes to giving solo interviews to conservatives and Republicans over progressives and Democrats. Pratt's comments about Rice suggest that Pratt believes it is appropriate for Face the Nation to consistently offer those in power, but not those who may disagree with them, access to the airwaves, and to host more Republicans than Democrats overall. And there is another critical question raised by this latest report that Pratt has not addressed: In November 2006, Democrats won both houses of Congress. Either the programs are hosting a debate between two sides, or they are simply interviewing those in power. Either way, the shift of Congress to Democratic control should have brought about a dramatic change in their guest lists, but it has not. Face the Nation has continued the same pattern of giving a significant advantage to Republicans over Democrats.

A Fox representative stated, "We want to thank Media Matters for drawing attention to 'Fox News Sunday,' which is the most quoted program in the Monday morning newspapers."

FACT: Fox News Sunday failed to address the report's findings entirely. In 2005 and 2006, the program offered twice as many interviews to conservatives and Republicans as progressives and Democrats.

NBC's Meet the Press has yet to comment about the current report, although, last year the show's executives were quick to respond by remarking that "the party holding the presidency also has a cabinet full of major newsmaker guests that speak to U.S. policy matters."

FACT: Meet the Press made no improvement in the balance of total guest appearances during the 109th congress (2005-2006) and after the 2006 elections. During those periods, the show granted the vast majority of its solo interviews to Republicans and conservatives at a rate of nearly 2 to 1 and has provided less balance between Republican and Democratic officials than Fox New Sunday.

This morning, Media Matters commended ABC's This Week for being the only Sunday morning network talk show with a balanced lineup of guests on the right and left since Democrats took control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

Reports from earlier this week in The Politico and TV Week had NBC and CBS refusing to comment on the new study, because they "believe[d] they answered the same charges last year" when they responded to Media Matters' original report, "If It's Sunday, It's Conservative." Their responses last year however are easily debunked by the post-2006 election analysis in Media Matters' new report.

What the networks said in response to the original report:

CBS' Face the Nation's Carin Pratt said: "Republicans are in power. I bet you'd find the same thing during Clinton's administration."

NBC's Meet the Press' Betsy Fischer said: "One needs to consider that the party holding the presidency also has a cabinet full of major newsmaker guests that speak to U.S. policy matters -- Defense, State, Justice, Treasury, etc. The same would be true for the eight years of the Clinton administration when the cabinet was, by and large, filled with Democrats."

Media Matters' most recent report shows that although control of Congress has switched hands, network practices remain largely unchanged; the under-representation of Democrats and progressives has continued in the months following the midterm elections. Data presented in Media Matters 2007 report calls last year's claims by CBS and NBC into question.

"Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and Fox News Sunday have been offering conservatives the advantage on Sunday mornings for years," said Karl Frisch, spokesman for Media Matters for America. "It's unfortunate that these shows haven't taken the path paved by ABC's This Week. It isn't hard to provide a level playing field to the right and left. This Week has. and these shows can do the same -- they can start this weekend."

About the Report & Media Matters for America

The report analyzed ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, classifying each of the more than 2,000 guests in 2005 and 2006 as well as guests since the 2006 midterm elections by party and/or ideology. It follows on last year's report, "If It's Sunday, It's Conservative," which analyzed more than 7,000 guests on the Sunday shows during the Clinton and Bush presidencies and found a Republican-conservative tilt during both administrations. As the new findings demonstrate, despite some improvement, considered as a whole the Sunday shows still don't offer a full range of diverse view to the public.

Media Matters for America is a not-for-profit, progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Report is available online at



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