Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How the Sunday Morning Talk Shows Pick Their Congressional Guests

Alex B. Mitchell, George Mason University School of Law, has published Guess Who Won't Be Coming to the Studio: An Unknown Congress, at 13 The Green Bag 2d ed. 483 (Summer 2010). Here is the abstract.

Before every broadcast, the producers of Sunday morning talk shows must answer two basic questions: (1) what views will be represented on our show? and (2) who will present those views? When the topic involves policy and politics and the guest is a Member of Congress – as it often is – the answer to the first question has important implications for what millions of interested viewers learn about what matters in American policy and politics, and the answer to the second question is equally important for what those viewers learn about who matters in American politics.

This article examines how the talk shows answer the second question – the one about who matters. In short, the answer is that in 2009 the talk shows told us (by their selection of congressional guests) that the people who matter are disproportionately white, male, senior, and Republican – disproportionate not just when compared to the American population overall, but also when compared to the population of Congress itself.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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