Conservative Media Bias in Inaugural Coverage?

Liberal press watchdog Media Matters counted noses on the cable news networks and found No room for progressives on primetime in inauguration coverage:

Republican and conservative guests and commentators outnumbered Democrats and progressives on FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC during primetime inauguration coverage on January 20, just as they had done earlier in the day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, as Media Matters for America documented. Appearances made by Republicans and conservatives outnumbered appearances made by Democrats and progressives 25 to 4 on FOX, 7 to 1 on CNN (not including a Republican-skewed panel featuring Ohio voters), and 9 to 5 on MSNBC.

Could it be that this was because it’s the inauguration of a Republican president and considered a day for political pageantry rather than partisan bickering? Had Kerry won, I certainly would not have expected equal time for Republican commentators saying what a dark day this was for the Republic. There’s a time and a place for everything. Funerals, inaugurals, and wedding days are times when equal time for opposing viewpoints is inappropriate.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Chase says:

    God damn I hate when they say “progressive”.

  2. Kent says:

    Funerals, inaugurals, and wedding days are times when equal time for opposing viewpoints is inappropriate.

    Well, they do sometimes ask at weddings whether anyone objects to the marriage. 😉

    But your point should be obvious and uncontroversial. I would add church sermons to the list of things that one ought not to expect to be balanced.

  3. Crerar says:

    Americans should be celebrating a democratic election and especially Republicans for their victory.
    Besides do you want to see this kind of bitter Dem response all day – FoxNews powned

  4. Davod says:

    cab anyone give me a definition of Progressive. It is my understanding the the term can be used to describe anyone from a Democrat to a leftist to a Marxist.

  5. Josh Yelon says:

    We (liberals) count noses regularly. We counted noses on today’s talk shows, for instance:

    ABC’s “This Week” – John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to Iraq; Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Joseph Biden, D-Del.; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

    CBS’ “Face the Nation” – Negroponte; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    NBC’s “Meet the Press” – Negroponte; Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif.

    CNN’s “Late Edition” – Negroponte; Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa; Adnan Pachachi of Iraq’s Independent Democratic Gathering; Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; former Labor Secretary Robert Reich; businessman Steve Forbes.

    “Fox News Sunday” – Negroponte; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

    That’s 11 Republican appearances to 5 Democrat appearances. It’s always like that. Only NPR comes close to reaching balance, they average about 55% Republican.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Well, there’s a Republican administration and Republicans have majorities in both Houses of Congress. So, it’s hardly unlikely that Republicans wouldn’t be overrepresented. When Clinton was in power, the networks didn’t have Republican counterparts on to argue with the SecState, UN Ambassador, or the like. Those positions are deemed “non-political” and to be speaking for the United States, not the party.

  7. Josh Yelon says:

    No, we’ve been keeping score for a long time. It goes back to the early years of the Clinton administration.

    It’s an article of faith with you guys that we control the media, but frankly, it’s hard to come to that conclusion if you’re looking at statistical data.