<\body> Stories in America: Sunday Talk Shows: Liberal or Conservative?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sunday Talk Shows: Liberal or Conservative?

"I admit it -- the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures."
William Kristol, as reported by the New Yorker, 5/22/95
(Yes, it's an old quote, but it's still true.)

From the Washington Monthly:
If you're up early on Sunday mornings in Washington, you can observe a weekly ritual. Around 9am, a string of chauffeured town cars and SUVs pulls up outside the NBC studio on Nebraska Avenue in Northwest Washington where "Meet the Press" is recorded, and out tumble government officials and politicians, reporters, and pundits. They scan the weekend papers over coffee in the green room, catch up with the women who apply their make-up, and wait for their chance to spin or pontificate. One thing you might notice about these select individuals-other than the fact that there are very few women-is that lately they are mostly conservative.

Which leads to another Sunday morning ritual: American liberals yelling at their televisions.

No, liberals, it's not your imagination. "Meet the Press" and the other Sunday political talk shows really have leaned more to the right in recent years. At Media Matters for America, we looked at every one of the 7,000 guests who appeared on the three major Sunday shows from 1997 through 2005-Bill Clinton's second term, George W. Bush's first term, and the last year. We found that the left has of late found itself outnumbered, in some ways substantially, on the television shows that define the Washington conventional wisdom. Liberals are already a disturbingly rare species among what Calvin Trillin refers to as the "Sabbath Gasbags." And in some debates-the war in Iraq, for example-they are in danger of becoming extinct.


At 2/13/2006 9:48 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

William Kristol has since made several references to the media being liberal, and in fact, he is saying as much in the quote here....he just thought conservatives were blaming the media for their own mistakes. (Check the Pew Research Center polls on the subject.)

Paula Zahn? Wolf Blitzer? Tim Russert? Larry King? Mort Kondrake? And my personal favorite...Chris Matthews. These guys are right-wingers????

Well, if Media Matters is your reference point....it does make a certain amount of sense.

At 2/14/2006 6:49 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

Oh, and by the way...Someone may want to notify Media Matters that Alan Keys hasn't been on MSNBC since 2002. His show aired for 23 weeks.

At 2/14/2006 3:29 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

This Hackett buisness today has me thinking about Democrats doing exactly what Kristol was saying about conservatives.

At 2/15/2006 1:15 PM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Can you name five liberal national TV or radio show hosts with household name status? How about two??

Here's a pice from the NYT:

Here is Mr. Dobbs, discussing the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to legislation that would make it a federal crime to assist illegal immigrants: "Tonight, the effort to secure this nation's borders has a new opponent. It is the Catholic Church."

Here he is on the Minutemen, the civilians labeled "vigilantes" by their critics for patrolling the border — sometimes armed — in search of illegal immigrants: "I support the Minuteman Project and the fine Americans who make it up in all they've accomplished, fully, relentlessly and proudly."

CNN officials emphasize that Mr. Dobbs, a lifelong Republican, hammers targets across the political spectrum, criticizing Republicans and business executives who support transferring jobs abroad as well as those who hope to legalize millions of illegal immigrants.

At 2/15/2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Can you name five liberal national TV or radio show hosts with household name status? How about two??

I'll take the Name Five Challenge...

Chris Matthews
Bill Moyers
Al Franken
Keith Olbermann
Nina Totenberg
Geraldo Rivera

And just for fun, I'll add Newsweek Assisting Managing Editor, Evan Thomas....who said the following:

“Let’s talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards — I’m talking about the establishment media, not Fox — but they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all. There’s going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that’s going to be worth maybe 15 points.”

At 2/15/2006 3:25 PM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Chris Matthews? He downplayed the Ambramoff scandal, accused gays of burning down the AL churches and accused Kennedy of molesting Alito's wife.

Back in January, Matthews said: Campbell, I just saw the president tonight. It was almost like somebody said to him as they were developing this speech weeks ago, "stick to your strengths, Mr. President. 9/11 is still your baby. People trust you. They think of you as a man who came back from that horror and led us back to self-confidence. Talk about it a lot tonight."

If that's liberal, you must be a socialist.

Bill Moyers: yep, liberal. Too bad he no longer has a regular gig and he's far from a household name.

Al Franken. Liberal. Probably the most well known.

Keith Olbermann. Definitely not household name. MSNBC is far behind CNN and Fox.

Nina Totenberg...definitely not a household name outside of NPR fans. Did you hear her Alito coverage? I wouldn't call that liberal.

Geraldo. Yeah, his fair and balanced "war reporting" is way left. Even I think he needs a leash...

At 2/15/2006 6:58 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Look, if you want to go quote for quote on Chris Matthews...I'm game. But before you take me up, you might want to consider the following:

Matthews spent 15 years in politics and government -- he worked in the White House for four years under President Jimmy Carter as a Presidential speechwriter, he was in the U.S. Senate for five years on the staffs of Senator Frank Moss and Senator Edmund Muskie, and was the top aide for Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, for six years. Notice a pattern here?

Now he may not reach the threshold for Liberal in the Media Matters political orbit, but most people (alright, most people NOT living in San Francisco) consider Chris Matthews to be left of center. Come on now…do you really think Matthews didn’t vote for Kerry? Did you see him on election night? The poor bastard looked like he had just been told he had terminal cancer and his dog had died.

As for the other people I listed, they're all pretty much self-admitted liberals. I could have thrown in a few more, but if you regard Chris Matthews is a conservative, well, you can see my problem (or prejudice, if you must)

Something else I don’t quite get is your assertion that anyone who didn’t reject Alito as a qualified for the Supreme Court is automatically a conservative (or non-liberal). Many liberals, including a Judge that worked with him for 7 years and testified in his behalf, thought he would be a fine judge and supported his confirmation.

As for Geraldo Rivera, I saw nothing in his reporting from Iraq that would cause me to identify him as a conservative so I'm not sure what you are referring to.

This who's a "household name" and who's not stuff is awfully subjective. Besides, there are many people behind the scenes whose names are unknown even to political nerds like you and I. These people have enormous influence in shapeing the news; it's not just the talking heads everyone knows (or, as the case may be, doesn't know if you appear on MSNBC). Go look at the Pew Research Center polls of media professionals and their political views. It may surprise you.

As for Geraldo Rivera, I saw nothing in his reporting from Iraq that would identify him as a conservative so I'm not sure what you are refering to.

This who's a "household name" and who's not stuff is awfully subjective. Besides, there are many people behind the scenes that not even political nerds like you and me would know that shape the news as well. Go look at the Pew Research Center polls of media professionals and their political views. It may surprise you.

At 2/15/2006 7:16 PM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

I never said they were 'conservative.' But to say they are liberals is simply false. Franken and Moyers, yes, but definitely not the others.

At 2/15/2006 9:05 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

I respectfully disagree.

And like I said, just labeling a few talking heads as either liberal or conservative doesn't really prove a whole lot.

(Kinda fun though.)

At 2/15/2006 9:31 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

For what it's worth, Andrew Sullivan has some interesting observations...


At 2/16/2006 6:03 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

Alright Rose, I thought I could drop this, but I can't....

Of the names I listed, who do you suspect voted for Bush last election?

I'll even toss in Larry King and Dan Rather.

At 2/16/2006 8:35 AM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Labels don't help, period. But the talking heads love using them and I hear "liberal" far more than I hear "conservative." Liberal has become a bad word, thanks to the guys who know so little about so much. Give me a break. Why is the guy commenting on Katrina commenting on relations with Saudi Arabia? The media needs a major overhaul. Considering they're owned by 5 corporations, that isn't going to happen.

If the media were truly liberal, the entire country would be outraged by the incompetence of this administration. Instead, we get Brit Hume lobbing softballs at Dick Cheney.

If Clinton were in office doing the exact same things as Bush, he would have been crucified by now.

At 2/16/2006 11:05 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

I don't agree with you about that if the media were truly liberal the entire country would be outraged by the incompetence of the administration. I think the real reason for the lack of outrage is that the *American public* is not truly liberal. And I think they deserve a little more credit for being able to make up their own minds irrespective of media bias.

Neither do I agree about Bush getting a pass whereas Clinton didn't. Clinton did not even bother seeking UN approval for his military adventures and the press hardly made a peep about it. He also engaged in similiar wire tapping activities with the New York Times blessing.

Fortunately the internet and talk radio (including Air America) have diffused the mainstream media's monopoly on the news. People can go to blogs like yours and read all about the sins of George Bush while listening to Al Franken at the same time.

Things are changing, and the media establishment are loosing control. Just ask Dan Rather.

At 2/16/2006 11:16 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

By the way, Rose...any thoughts on this?...


I'm curious as to how you and your readers are reacting to this.

My own take is that Hackett got totally boned. But is this only a blip on the screen, or something more substinative?

At 2/16/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

When I say if the media were truly liberal, the entire country would agree that every person in this country deserves a living wage, an education, shelter and food...of course not, it's all about survivial of the fittest and pulling yourself up by your boot straps even if you don't own any boots.

I'm talking about FACTS. Unfortunately, facts don't mater and most people have no concept of history. On my road trip, the majority of the people I met who voted for Bush had never heard of the Downing Street Memo, believe weapons have been found or are hiding in Syria, don't know that Bush I abandoned the Iraqi people, the list goes on. And no, I'm not saying they're stupid. I don't expect everyone to spend all day online or reading the news (that's for freaks); they deserve better from the media. The public airwaves, after all, are owned by the public.

At 2/16/2006 11:21 AM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

re: Hackett. He got screwed. He speaks his mind and the Dem establishing felt he would be a trouble maker. You don't fit into our club, so we won't fund your campaign. He should run as an independent and give the Dems a real run for their money.

At 2/16/2006 1:28 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

I think you're right. Just like Paul Wellstone even though I don't agree with all of his political positions, I admire his integrity. I'd rather he run as a Democrat in the primary though. I'd like to think his reputation as a straight talker would be enough to overcome the almighty dollar...but maybe I'm dreaming...


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