REPORT: The Sunday Morning Shows Are Still White, Conservative, And Male

In the first six months of 2013, white men dominated the guest lists on the broadcast network Sunday shows and CNN's State of the Union. MSNBC was the only network achieving notable diversity in its guests, particularly on Melissa Harris-Perry's show. Republicans and conservatives are hosted significantly more on the broadcast Sunday shows than Democrats and progressives.

Media Matters has continued its monitoring of the Sunday morning talk shows on broadcast and cable networks. Following up on our previous study, we've added data for April, May, and June to the existing data collected for January, February, and March of this year on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS' Face the Nation, Fox Broadcast Co.'s Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, NBC's Meet the Press, CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley, and MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki and Melissa Harris-Perry.

Except For MSNBC, White Men Still Dominate Guests Lists On The Sunday Shows

White Men Are The Largest Proportion Of All Guests On The Broadcast Networks And CNN. During the first six months of this year, white men were no less than 58 percent and as high as 66 percent of guests on This WeekFace the NationMeet the PressFox News Sunday, and State of the UnionMelissa Harris-Perry stands out as having a much more even distribution between white men and women and African-American men and women than all other shows.

White Men Most Likely To Receive A Solo Interview On The Broadcast Networks And CNN. One-on-one interviews with the host continue to be the province of white men on the broadcast networks and CNN. Again, Melissa Harris-Perry has a more even distribution of solo interviews with white men and women and African-American men and women. Up with Steve Kornacki did not have enough solo interviews in the period studied to be included in the comparison.

White Men Overrepresented On The Broadcast Networks And CNN. Compared to U.S. Census data, white men on This WeekFace the NationMeet the Press, and Fox News Sunday are more than twice their proportion of the general population, and CNN's proportion of white men is just shy of being double. By contrast, MSNBC's proportions of white men and women and all other men and women are much closer to their proportions in the general population.

Slight Trend Toward More Women On The Sunday Shows. On all seven shows studied, the number of women relative to the number of men increased slightly in the second quarter of 2013. MSNBC is still the most diverse network in this regard, with men making up 55 percent of guests and women 45 percent in the second quarter. Broadcast is still the least diverse, with men making up 74 percent of guests and women 26 percent in the second quarter.

Slight Trend Toward More Ethnic Diversity On The Sunday Shows. On all seven shows studied, the proportion of non-white guests increased slightly relative to the proportion of white guests. CNN saw the largest improvement, with non-white guests increasing by a full 12 percentage points.

CNN Significantly Drops Its Proportion Of White Men In Second Quarter. While the proportion of white men decreased from the first quarter to the second overall, State of the Union saw the largest improvement, with white men dropping from 65 percent to 50 percent. MSNBC maintains its standing as the only network with a smaller proportion of white men than the proportion of all other guests. Broadcast's proportion of white men, while less in the second quarter than in the first, is still more than double the proportion of white men in the general population.

Republicans And Conservatives Still Dominate Guest Lists On The Sunday Shows

Conservative White Men Dominate The Broadcast Network Sunday Shows. Making up nearly one of every three guests on This WeekFace the NationMeet the Press, and Fox News Sunday, conservative white men represent a larger portion of guests than any other group.

Conservative White Men Dominate Solo Interviews On The Broadcast Network Sunday Shows. Conservative white men make up 37 percent of all one-on-one interviews on the broadcast shows, much more than any other group. In fact, the proportion of solo interviews conducted with conservative white men is a full 13 percentage points higher than white women and all other non-white groups combined.

Broadcast Networks Continue To Host A Majority Of Republicans And Conservatives OverallFace the NationMeet the Press, and Fox News Sunday, each hosted more Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and progressives, continuing the trend from the first quarter. In contrast, This Week increased its proportion of Democrats and progressives, surpassing its proportion of Republicans and conservatives for the second quarter.

Panel Balance Still More Likely To Tilt Right Than Left. Despite improvement from all four broadcast networks, Republicans and conservatives are still more likely to outnumber Democrats and progressives when they sit in the same panel discussion segment. Fox News Sunday's notable shift toward a majority of balanced panels is worth pointing out; however, when panels do tilt on that program, they tilt right every single time.

Republican Elected And Administration Officials Again Outnumber Democrats Overall. Fox News Sunday hosted two Republicans for every one Democrat in the second quarter, which is the same as the show's numbers in the first quarter. Both Face the Nation and Meet the Press hosted more Republicans than Democrats, with Face the Nation seeing a 10 point increase in Republicans and an 8 point decrease in Democrats. This Week hosted significantly more Democrats than Republicans, a flip from last quarter.

Except For This Week, Republicans Receive More Time During Solo Interviews Than Democrats Overall. Face the NationMeet the Press, and Fox News Sunday all gave Republicans much more time during their one-on-one interviews than Democrats, with Face the Nation having flipped from the previous quarter. By contrast, This Week shifted to provide Democrats with significantly more time than Republicans in the second quarter.

Ideological Journalists Again More Likely To Be Conserative Than Progressive. Like this year's first quarter, journalists who self-identify ideologically tend to be conservative when hosted by the broadcast Sunday shows. Fox News Sunday is again the worst offender in this category, with nearly half of its hosted journalists being conservative.

Every Show Except This Week Gave More Time During Solo Interviews To Republicans And Conservatives Than To Democrats and Progressives. Once again, Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press gave significantly more time to those on the right than those on the left. Face the Nation increased its proportion of time given to Republicans and conservatives, surpassing the time given to Democrats and progressives in the second quarter. This Week gave Democrats and progressives much more time during solo interviews than Republicans and conservatives.


We reviewed every edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS' Face The Nation, NBC's Meet The Press, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley, and the Sunday editions of MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki (previously Up with Chris Hayes prior to April 13, 2013) and Melissa Harris-Perry during the first six months of 2013. Guest appearances for all seven programs were coded for gender and ethnicity. Guests appearing on the four broadcast networks were also coded for whether they appeared in solo interviews or as part of a panel; whether they were journalists, administration officials, or elected officials; and for their partisanship or ideology.

These classifications do not represent an analysis of what guests actually said when they appeared on a show on a given date. Coding each guest's comments for their ideological slant would have introduced enormous difficulties and opportunities for subjectivity. Instead, we simply classified guests based on their own ideological self-identification or public affiliation with an openly partisan or ideological organization or institution.

In the vast majority of cases, guests are clearly identifiable by their party or ideology (or as having none). Of course, in a few instances, these decisions were not as simple to make. We therefore constructed rules that could be applied as strictly as possible. Where a guest's identification was in question, Media Matters chose to err on the side of listing that guest toward the left.

Following are some of the principal rules coders employed in classifying guests:

  • The party designations (Democratic and Republican) are reserved for current and former officeholders, candidates, campaign staff, political consultants associated with one party or the other, and administration officials. All others are labeled conservative, progressive, or neutral.
  • The neutral category does not necessarily imply strict ideological neutrality but, rather, might better be understood as neutral/centrist/nonpartisan -- we use the term “neutral” for the sake of brevity.
  • When guests served in both Republican and Democratic administrations in the past, they were coded as neutral barring any compelling reason to do otherwise. In a few cases, however, a former official who had served under presidents from both parties became clearly identified with one ideology and were coded accordingly.
  • Our “Journalist” classification applies not only to daily reporters but also to opinion columnists, magazine writers, etc.
  • In the case of foreign officials and journalists, we labeled all as neutral -- even though the political ideology of some might be identifiable -- to avoid the need to analyze the politics of other countries. Foreign nationals were also excluded from the diversity analysis.
  • Active duty members of the armed forces were classified as members of the Obama administration. Retired officers were coded as neutral absent any other affiliation.

Charts by Oliver Willis.