Media and Democracy Project: Sunday Shows Report Release

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Today, the Media and Democracy Project is releasing their analyses of the Sunday Shows Report.   The full report and executive summary are available at

Executive Summary

The Sunday Shows are the flagship political and civic discussion TV programs of the major broadcast networks. They are watched by over 10 million people each week but have a much broader reach beyond that, often setting the agenda for news coverage and discussion across all media platforms. Who appears and what topics are discussed, reflects “who” and “what” the mainstream media considers to be most important. This report spotlights how the major networks’ Sunday news shows regularly avoid substantive content.

To understand this better we, the Media and Democracy Project, collected and analyzed information on every guest of the five major Sunday Shows in 2021. We covered ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s State of the Union, and Fox’s Fox News Sunday. There were 816 guests appearing on 251 shows. We performed data analysis on characteristics of the guests and textual analysis of show transcripts.

Key findings:

  • Politicians were invited to be guests more than topic experts
  • COVID was covered well, but climate and most other topics were not
  • Focus on DC insider topics increases cynicism and polarization
  • Dramatic under-representation of women and people of color, most notably Latinas/Latinos
  • All networks hosted coup supporters 
  • The Sunday Shows can and should do a much better job informing the public on vital topics.
    As they illustrated with the coverage of COVID, the shows can use experts to cover vital topics. If they cut the number of Congressional guests in half, there would be room to cover several more topics well. Sunday Shows should not be a propaganda platform for people who deny basic facts and undermine democracy.

The study is dedicated to the memory of media critic Eric Boehlert. Eric was a constant source of inspiration for us.

About Media and Democracy Project
The Media And Democracy Project (MAD), a grassroots group, promotes civic engagement with the media reform movement in the United States to meet the critical information needs of citizens as an essential bulwark of an inclusive, representative democracy. We fight for truth, context and transparency in journalism. MAD counters disinformation, supports local and non-profit journalism, and spreads pro-democracy messaging.

Read the Full Report


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