Research/Study Research/Study

In lead-up to midterms, CNN's election coverage favors right-leaning over left-leaning guests

In each of the past eight weeks leading up to the election, CNN has featured more right-leaning guests than left in campaign coverage

  • CNN has featured more right-leaning than left-leaning guests in its 2022 weekday midterm coverage in the past eight weeks, with each week in that period biased toward right-leaning guests. This lopsided makeup has been reflected in the substance of the network’s coverage as well, which often gives right-leaning guests a platform to push Republican talking points attacking the Biden administration or Democratic candidates and policies. 

  • Image comparing the percentage of weekly guests on CNN by ideology
  • From September 5 through October 28, 27% of guest appearances during segments discussing the midterms on CNN weekday programming have been made by right-leaning guests, including Republicans and conservatives. Just 21% of appearances were made by left-leaning guests, including Democrats and progressives, according to Media Matters’ internal database of weekday cable news programming.

  • Chart showing the weekly number of appearances in election segments on CNN, broken down by ideology.
  • Each week since Labor Day has featured more right-leaning than left-leaning guests in midterm segments on the network. Neutral guests, a catchall term that includes centrists, independents, and those without a partisan or ideological affiliation, have outnumbered both right- and left-leaning guests every week during the period.

    Among the top guests by appearances in segments that discussed the midterms, 3 of the 5 most frequent guests were right-leaning, while only 1 guest in the top 10, CNN contributor Maria Cardona, was left-leaning.

    Conservative commentator Scott Jennings has been the most frequent guest across midterm-focused segments on the network, with 28 appearances. In past CNN appearances, Jennings has promoted the hateful anti-LGBTQ account “Libs of TikTok,” dismissed concerns about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and downplayed Georgia Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker’s alleged payment for an abortion.

    Another conservative contributor, Alice Stewart, has made 17 appearances discussing the midterms. Recently during an appearance she blamed “both sides” for the “political rhetoric” leading up to the assault on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband, Paul Pelosi.

    CNN has also continued to host former Trump campaign and administration officials, with former Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah Griffin making 11 appearances and former Trump campaign adviser David Urban making 9 appearances to discuss the midterms during the time period examined.

    CNN’s tendency to host more Republican and conservative guests has been indicative of its midterm coverage: The network has failed to significantly cover harmful GOP plans to tie social welfare programs to the debt ceiling while elevating GOP talking points on Democratic candidates into scandals.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) for segments that analysts determined to be about the 2022 midterms from September 5, 2022, through October 28, 2022.

    We then coded guests who appeared in those segments by their ideological or partisan self-identification or their public affiliation with any openly ideological or partisan organization or institution. We coded openly progressive or Democratic guests as left-leaning and openly conservative or Republican guests as right-leaning. We coded centrists, independents, or guests without a stated ideology or partisanship or ideological or partisan affiliation as neutral.