Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Alert: C-SPAN Slanting Right

Action Alert

C-SPAN Slanting Right
Washington Journal's guest-list lacks balance


In the December issue of Extra!, FAIR published a study of the guest list on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. Though C-SPAN's "flagship viewer call-in program" prides itself on its reputation for fairness, FAIR's study found that reputation does not reflect reality. But C-SPAN's response thus far has been silence.

Extra! studied Washington Journal's guest-list, tabulating all 663 guests who appeared on the show in the six-month period from November 1, 2004 to April 30, 2005. Guests were classified by gender, ethnicity, party affiliation (if any) and occupation. The study also looked at the think tanks most prominently represented on the show.

Among the most striking findings:

  • Of the partisan guests, Republicans outnumbered Democrats nearly two to one (134 to 70). Not a single representative of a third party appeared during the study period.

  • People of color made up only 15 percent of Washington Journal's guest-list (100 out of 663). People of African and Asian heritage accounted for 4 percent each, while those of Middle Eastern and Latin American descent represented 3 percent each. No Native Americans were identifiable during the six months studied.

  • Male guests outnumbered women by four to one, at 80 percent to 20 percent. Moreover, 69 percent of guests were white males, while just 3 percent were women of color.

  • Journalists accounted for nearly a third of all guests (32 percent), the largest single occupational group on the guest-list. Of opinion journalists, 32 were right-of-center while only 19 were left-of-center.

  • Citizen-based organizations and public interest groups accounted for just 9 percent of total guests.

"Balance is our No. 1 goal," Peter Slen, Washington Journal's executive producer and part-time host, once said, adding: "We keep official stats on the Washington Journal, OK? Republicans, Democrats, conservative, liberal, moderates¬ówe try to stay within the week nearly perfect as far as the balance goes."

But since publication of the study, C-SPAN has declined to comment on the results, saying only that they would "keep it under advisement." They also turned down a FAIR offer to appear on Washington Journal to discuss the issue.

Please contact C-SPAN and let them know your thoughts about the study.

Washington Journal
Phone: 202-737-3220

If you're concerned about the imbalance on Washington Journal, you can also call the viewer hotline this week to voice your concerns over the air:
(202) 628-0205

The show usually airs weekdays from 7-10 AM and weekends 8-10 AM EST.


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