Media Research Study Results: Sunday Shows Are Falling Short

6 mins read


Americans are under-informed. But do you wonder how and by who are Americans informed about the world around them and the priorities and solutions to the problems that we collectively face?

Everyone has their own information “media diet” of TV, social media, newspapers, etc..

You might not watch Sunday morning news shows – but millions of Americans, politicians and journalists do! These shows shape narratives and political priorities – and impact our democracy with tangible real-world consequences. What is discussed, what isn’t discussed; who is doing the discussing – and who isn’t!

Are the major corporate networks’ Sunday news shows designed to inform the public? Or is their goal to entertain, preserve the status quo and maximize ratings and revenue?

ABC’s This Week calls itself a “news forum”.  CNN’s State of the Union declares that they “bring together major newsmakers and analysts and experts to tackle pressing domestic issues and diplomacy on the global stage.” Yet our review of all 816 guests appearing on 251 shows in 2021 across 5 networks reveals a glaring absence of experts and information. Guests are most often politicians, meaning discussion focuses on the drama of politics and process rather than major issues the public seeks to understand. 

Our additional textual analysis shows that in 2021 these “news” programs effectively ignored education, civil rights, voting rights, drug policy, gun control and immigration policy. And in particular, two topics that heavily influence our society today, climate and the courts, were rarely mentioned.  Further, the shows failed to host guests in proportion to the racial, ethnic, and gender make-up of the country, over-representing White men. They grossly under-represented Hispanic voices. Inexplicably, several members of Congress who proved themselves unreliable by their advancement of the Big Lie were invited to share their discredited political opinions. By granting them a platform, the Sunday Shows whitewash these politicians’ role in deceiving Americans and gloss over another major topic viewers need to understand. Our democracy cannot afford the Sunday shows’ choice to avoid substance and diversity. As agenda-setters for the national media discourse, the Sunday Shows can and must do better. 

Help us demand better from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox corporate media – where the majority of Americans get their news. And join us in advocating for long-term alternatives.

Study results:

JOIN US Monday 6/20 via Zoom to learn more, ask questions – and help us work on solutions.
Sign up here:

Figure 1. Networks did a good job using experts to discuss COVID19/public health but failed to use experts to discuss other VITAL issues. Reliance on politicians – particularly Congress people – who are perennially running for office and not experts fails to inform viewers and reinforces “beltway politics”, political theatre and “polarization.”

Figures 2-3. All networks chose guests that are predominantly White men. 

Please HELP us spread the word and work on solutions.
Please contact us with ideas and organizations you think would be interested and need to hear about our research – help us demand progress in a more informative and pro-democracy media! (Email: )

Here is a link to a summary and full-length study (with downloadable .pdfs):

Follow, engage and help us amplify our study on two of our Twitter Accounts!
#1 Media and Democracy Project@MAD_Democracy 

#2 Fix Media Now Team account that fights for truth, context & transparency in every piece of reporting motto #FixMediaNow!: @FixMediaNow

Here’s a short link to the results/webpage.


  SIGN UP (all via Zoom):

  • 6/20 MONDAY Media and Democracy Project working group. We will talk more about our Study on Sunday news shows – and WHAT TO DO in response. More action around our vital Federal Communications Commission and nominee consumer advocate Gigi Sohn!
  • 6/28 TUESDAY Meme Team – Work together to make pro-democracy memes!
  • 6/30 THURSDAY Media and Democracy Collaboration: Fox Propaganda: What Activists Can Do!

Let us know if you have any projects you’d like to share or collaborate on. Please share this email and our actions with folks who might be interested.

Thank you.

In community,
Milo, Jonathan, Brian, Holley, Cecily, Al, Carolyn and the entire Media and Democracy Project

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

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