In the first three months of 2013, the broadcast networks' Sunday morning talk shows once again skewed strongly to the right and featured a startling lack of diversity among guests.
For better or worse, these shows -- ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday -- occupy an elevated space in the national political discussion. This is where influential people -- like senators, representatives, presidential administration officials, Fortune 500 chief executives, and leaders of prominent non-profit organizations, for example -- get to set the terms of debate and frame the issues of the week. The shows enjoy considerably high ratings as well -- approximately 10 million weekly viewers collectively, according to recent numbers from TV Newser.
With that in mind, who the broadcast Sunday shows invite on as guests has significant implications for how discussions on major issues are framed. And once again, Republicans and conservatives have an edge over Democrats and progressives on these programs.
The four broadcast networks' Sunday morning political talk shows guests skewed right during the first quarter of 2013. MSNBC's two Sunday programs featured far greater gender and ethnic diversity in its guests than the broadcast programs and CNN's Sunday morning political talk show.
Fox News covered this week's tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq the least of the three major cable networks. MSNBC provided more coverage than Fox and CNN combined.
From March 18 through March 20, MSNBC devoted more than four and a half hours of coverage to the Iraq anniversary. CNN spent 2 hours and five minutes on the story, while Fox News covered it for only an hour and twenty one minutes.
This study is a tally of the raw volume of Iraq anniversary coverage and did not take into account the quality of the content.
For example, Fox News segments included in the study include one in which an anchor questioned criticism of the media's coverage of the Bush administration's case for war, and another in which a Fox host declared the invasion "the smartest thing George Bush did."
While much of MSNBC's coverage was focused on the heavy toll of the war, segments like Morning Joe's report falsely claiming Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) originally supported the invasion (and co-host Joe Scarborough's subsequent apology for doing so) were also counted.
After being sold on faulty pretenses, according to a recent Brown University study, the war in Iraq cost the lives of 4,488 U.S. service members, at least 3,400 U.S. contractors, and an estimated 134,000 Iraqi civilians. (The study clarifies that the estimate for civilian deaths "does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.")
The Brown University study estimates the war "will cost the U.S. $2.2 trillion, including substantial costs for veterans care through 2053, far exceeding the initial government estimate of $50 to $60 billion."
Media Matters searched raw video for any variation of "Iraq" on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC's all-day news programming (from 6 a.m. through 11 p.m.) for the day before, of, and after the Iraq War's 10th anniversary, March 18 through 20, 2013. We did not include repeats of programs; for instance, even through MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews airs at both 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., we only included the 5 p.m. broadcast. We included and timed any teasers, promos, news briefs, news packages, and full segments on the Iraq war anniversary as well as any relevant parts of interviews and panels discussing the Iraq war. We did not including any passing mentions of the Iraq war made in segments on other topics, such as the frequent invoking of the Iraq war during segments about the recent allegations of chemical weapon use in Syria.
Oliver Willis contributed research to this report.
MSNBC is giving Chris Hayes the network's 8 p.m. primetime weekday slot beginning in April. Hayes' current program, Up with Chris Hayes, has provided a beacon of diversity compared to the Sunday morning political talk shows on other major broadcast and cable networks, which overwhelmingly feature white men.
The Sunday morning edition of Up with Chris Hayes, which runs from 8 to 10 a.m., is currently more diverse than any of the Sunday morning talk shows on the other networks, as a Media Matters examination of guests since January 1 demonstrates. Most tellingly, white men make up 41 percent of total guests on Up with Chris Hayes (according to data from the U.S. Census, white men make up roughly 31 percent* of the U.S. population). In contrast, CBS' Face the Nation, Fox's Fox News Sunday, NBC's Meet the Press, CNN's State of the Union, and ABC's This Week host white men 66 percent, 64 percent, 64 percent, 67 percent, and 61 percent of the time, respectively.
Further, Up with Chris Hayes has more than double the proportion of African-American guests -- 21 percent -- as compared to each of the other programs. In all, 34 percent of guests on Up with Chris Hayes are non-white. Hayes also hosts more women -- 37 percent -- than any of the other networks' shows.
*This report originally stated that white men represented 39 percent of the U.S. general population. The correct figure is 31 percent. Media Matters regrets the error.
Broadcast and cable news networks have largely ignored a new report which concluded that the United States' rebuilding efforts in Iraq squandered billions of dollars due to widespread fraud, abuse, and waste.
Last week, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, released a report concluding that of the $60 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction projects in Iraq following the 2003 invasion, at least $8 billion of it was "wasted."
In the five days since its release, only PBS and MSNBC have offered substantial coverage of the report.
NBC, ABC, and CBS have all ignored it during their evening newscasts (though it warranted passing mention on NBC's Today, the other networks' morning news programs also ignored the findings). Fox News' Bret Baier gave the story less than twenty seconds of coverage during Special Report.
CNN has completely ignored the report.
Though NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, and CNN have devoted a combined thirty five seconds to the story, PBS and MSNBC have each spent more than ten minutes discussing the report and its conclusions.
Bill O'Reilly's annual fight against the manufactured "War on Christmas" has become a revered holiday tradition over at Fox News. Just like last year, in December O'Reilly has spent more time on his show discussing the "War on Christmas" than actual military conflicts. As usual, events O'Reilly identified as a unified "War on Christmas" were almost always isolated incidents from around the country, usually pertaining to concerns over separation of church and state or efforts to make holiday celebrations more inclusive.
For example, for the second consecutive year, O'Reilly made a fuss over Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee's decision to call the tree in their statehouse a "holiday tree" instead of a "Christmas tree," going so far as to dispatch O'Reilly Factor producer Jesse Watters to interview people on the streets of New York about it.
When Watters asked a young couple whether they'd heard of the War on Christmas, they simply responded, "No." Watters looked puzzled. "No, you haven't heard of the War on Christmas?" That's probably because the Grinch here is entirely O'Reilly's making. Here's a brief sample of O'Reilly's never-ending war on the War on Christmas:
For the second straight year, The O'Reilly Factor has devoted more than three times as much airtime to the manufactured "War on Christmas" than to actual military conflicts.
In recent weeks, media outlets have focused heavily on current budget negotiations regarding automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect on January 1, 2013 if an alternative agreement is not reached. But major television news outlets are inadequately reporting on year-end budget negotiations, rarely hosting economists and favoring inflammatory rhetoric about the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to a Media Matters analysis. Furthermore, most television segments have completely ignored the possible economic effects of potential tax increases and spending cuts.
ABC, CBS, and USA Today ignored a call for strong gun violence prevention laws included in statements by Mark Kelly on behalf of his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, at the sentencing hearing for Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner.
While ABC, CBS, and USA Today reported on Kelly's statement to Loughner that "you may have put a bullet through her head, but you haven't put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place," they ignored his comments about the role of high capacity magazines in the shooting and concerns that he and Giffords have about the enforcement of gun laws.
A wave of mass shootings have occurred over the past few years, often garnering extensive media coverage. Despite those tragic attacks and the roughly 30,000 deaths by firearms that occur every year, moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS' NewsHour failed to ask the presidential candidates about gun violence during the first presidential debate, the only forum specifically dedicated to domestic policy.
14 mass shootings have been committed over the past four years, according to an analysis by Mother Jones. These include recent tragedies that rocked the American public this year, such as the attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and an assault at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Last year, a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, nearly claimed the life of then-U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords.
Nonetheless, in the first presidential debate for the 2012 election, Lehrer asked no questions on the topic of gun violence. This continues the troubling pattern established during the 2008 presidential debates, which similarly featured no discussion of the topic even in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech the previous year. Past presidential debates have featured this subject regularly: A Media Matters review found that in 1992, the second debate spent over six minutes on it; in 1996, the first debate gave it almost four minutes; in 2000, the second and third debates devoted more than 13 minutes combined; and in 2004, the third debate spent nearly three minutes on it.