Saturday, December 03, 2005

Washington Right Wing Journal

FAIR confirms what must of us long knew - WJ leans more than just a little bit right.

Elected officials who appeared on Washington Journal were slightly more balanced than overall partisan guests. Of the 97 elected officials appearing on the show (senators and House members), 58 were Republican and 39 were Democrat—a 60 to 40 percent imbalance in favor of the GOP.

One might reasonably expect Republicans to moderately outnumber Democrats at a time when the GOP controls the White House and both houses of Congress, but a nearly two to one advantage is hard to justify—particularly in the wake of the national election that concluded in the first week of the study period with the Republican candidate receiving 51 percent of the popular vote. That election gave the Republicans control of 53 percent of the House and 55 percent of the Senate.

Journalists accounted for nearly a third of all guests (215, or 32 percent), the largest single occupational group on Washington Journal’s guestlist. The establishment-oriented Washington Post, with 20 journalists appearing as guests, was the most visible outlet, followed by the Capitol Hill–focused Congressional Quarterly with 12 and the right-leaning Washington Times with 10. USA Today and Time each provided eight guests, while five represented the Christian Science Monitor.

Despite its declaration of balance, the Washington Journal hosted journalists from right-leaning opinion magazines more often than it did those from the left. For instance, the conservative Weekly Standard furnished three guests, as did the like-minded National Review (including National Review Online). Only two guests from the liberal American Prospect were invited on the Journal, and only one guest from the left-leaning Nation.

When opinion journalists from all outlets were included, the right-leaning bias was nearly as strong: 32 right-of-center journalists appeared, vs. 19 left-of-center reporters (even counting editor Peter Beinart, the New Republic’s pro-war editor, as being on the left). Perhaps this tilt to the right could be rationalized if right-wing magazines were distinctly more popular than their counterparts on the left, but the reverse seems to be true; Mother Jones and The Nation both best National Review’s circulation numbers by a wide margin, and The Progressive outsells the Weekly Standard and American Spectator.