Face the (Republican) Nation

Face the NationYesterday, Media Matters for America reported, CBS’ Face the Nation Turns Exclusively to GOP for Ukraine Discussion. The announced lineup for tomorrow is Dick Cheney, James Baker, and Paul Ryan. It still amazes me that anyone talks to Cheney. He should be a national embarrassment, yet people still treat him like a wise elder statesman. It is shocking. Baker is okay, I guess; but I’m not clear why the almost 84-year-old former Secretary of State is important to the discussion. And Paul Ryan doesn’t even claim to know much about international affairs. If we base our expectations on his incredible ignorance about economics—the one area he claims to know something about—we can reasonably predict that he won’t have anything to add to the discussion other than Republican talking points.

Every couple of years, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) puts out an analysis of guests on the Sunday politics shows. And every times it shows the same thing: Republicans, and conservatives more generally, dominate the guest lists. When the Republicans are in the White House, the skew is very large and the shows claim that this is understandable because the Republicans are in power. That in itself is ridiculous—as though the purpose of the news media is to reflect the existing power structure. But when the Democrats are in control, Republicans still dominate the Sunday talk shows.

Of course, the shows always have an excuse for their conservative skewing. For example, in 2011 they claimed it was skewed because of the Republican presidential primary. But when Media Matters for America looked at an equivalent period in 2003 when the Democrats had a primary and the Republicans did not—What a surprise!—the Sunday political shows still had more Republicans than Democrats.

But it is much more than simply the guests. This last week on Meet the Press, David Gregory asked Marco Rubio an incredibly leading question, “Do you agree with some of your colleagues who say it’s the weakness of President Obama and the United States right now that has emboldened President Putin of Russia?” This false narrative was repeated a number of time. Eventually, Chuck Todd said, “This is not the first time with Putin. Putin acts, Obama warns. Putin acts, Obama warns. This is a pattern that he can’t afford to stay in there and just continue to warn. You heard John Kerry: more warnings.” That’s just a Republican talking point. The reporters really should know about what’s going on and not just repeat what the opposition party is saying—something they would never do if the parties were reversed.

I could accept all this if the standard narrative was that the media were biased towards the Republican Party. That indeed does seem to be the case on all but a handful of socially liberal issues like same sex marriage. These shows kiss up to power. I guess that’s not surprising. But their ideas of power are always the same as an adolescent boy’s ideas. They mistake bellicosity for power. If we went to war in Ukraine just because Putin invaded regardless of our own national interest, that would indicate that Putin had the power, not Obama.

Our media is obsessed with the idea of objectivity. Yet they don’t seem to have a problem with being overly dependent upon the Republican Party, even when said party is in crisis with very little power. At least we all know that Fox News is the propaganda wing of the Republican Party. So it isn’t surprising that Fox News Sunday is highly skewed toward the Republican Party. But the truth is that Meet the Press and Face the Nation are no less conservative. When George Will left This Week for Fox News, he fit right in. He didn’t stand out any less on Fox News than he did on ABC.

All of this is an indictment of the American news media. And they are very much to blame for our terrible political environment. In as much as you can depend upon a news host to be in favor of same sex marriage, you can depend upon them to be against unionization and for globalization. And they’ve been far more successful in pushing the economic policies than they have been pushing the social policies. At least people still realize that there are two sides on the same sex marriage issue. When it comes to the economic issues, there is no other side. Unions baaaad! Globalization gooood! You know: objective news reporting.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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