How liberal is CBS really ?

››› ››› JEREMY CLUCHEY

A Media Matters for America analysis of CBS Evening News broadcasts since the November 2, 2004, presidential election found that the program featured Republicans and conservatives more often than Democrats and progressives.

CBS Evening News segments on political topics broadcast between November 3, 2004, and February 17, 2005, featured 65 clips of Democratic officials or commentators representing progressive organizations and 83 clips of Republican officials or commentators representing conservative organizations. These figures do not include clips of President Bush, which were featured on 40 Evening News episodes.

Democrats/commentators representing progressive organizations Republicans/commentators representing conservative organizations
Very Reverend Tracey Lind, identified as representing Democrats' view (Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio), 11/3/04
Representative Robert Matsui (D-CA), 11/4/04
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, 11/6/04
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 11/6/04
Matt Foreman (National Gay & Lesbian Task Force), 11/6/04
David D. Cole (Georgetown University Law School professor, The Nation legal affairs correspondent), 11/10/04
Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), 11/14/04
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 11/17/04
Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), 11/17/04
Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), 11/17/04
Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), 11/17/04
Former President Bill Clinton, 11/18/04
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), 11/18/04
Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), 11/18/04
Larry Sasich (Public Citizen), 11/19/04
Michael O'Hanlon (Brookings Institution), 11/20/04
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), 11/21/04
Representative David Obey (D-WI), 11/24/04
Representative Robert T. Matsui (D-CA), 11/24/04
Barbara Coombs Lee (Compassion In Dying), 11/24/04
Dr. Vanessa Cullins (Planned Parenthood), 11/25/04
Michael O'Hanlon (Brookings Institution), 11/27/04
Gary Burtless (Brookings Institution), 11/28/04
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), 12/3/04
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), 12/5/04
Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), 12/6/04
Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), 12/12/04
Joan Claybrook (Public Citizen), 12/12/04
Ken Lieberthal (Brookings Institution), 12/13/04
Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND), 12/27/04
Paul Krugman (New York Times columnist), 1/1/05
Former President Bill Clinton, 1/3/05
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), 1/6/05
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), 1/6/05
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 1/6/05
Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), 1/9/05
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), 1/16/05
Paul Krugman (New York Times columnist), 1/16/05
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), 1/18/05
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), 1/18/05
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), 1/18/05
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), 1/19/05
Barry Steinhardt (ACLU), 1/19/05
Jerome McRaith (Veterans For Peace), 1/20/05
Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), 1/22/05
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), 1/25/05
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), 2/5/05
Michael Tomasky (author, American Prospect executive editor), 2/5/05
New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan, 2/6/05
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), 2/6/05
Former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen, 2/6/05
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, 2/6/05
Robert Greenstein (Center on Budget & Policy Priorities), 2/7/05
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 2/7/05
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, 2/7/05
Representative Jerry Ellis (D-OK), 2/7/05
Edith Brin (identified as a "California Democrat"), 2/11/05
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, 2/11/05
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, 2/11/05
Ron Pollock (Families USA), 2/12/05
Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Terry Button, 2/12/05
Democratic National Committee Chairman Dr. Howard Dean, 2/12/05
State Senator Robert E. Travaglini (D-MA), 2/12/05
Former Social Security commissioner Robert Ball (Democrat), 2/14/05
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), 2/16/05
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), 11/3/04
Michael Tanner (Cato Institute), 11/4/04
Peter Sprigg (Family Research Council), 11/4/04
Conservative activist Richard Viguerie, 11/4/04
Robert H. Knight (Concerned Women for America), 11/6/04
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 11/14/04
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 11/16/04
Reverend Pat Mahoney (Christian Defense Coalition), 11/16/04
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), 11/16/04
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), 11/16/04
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), 11/17/04
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 11/17/04
Norman J. Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute), 11/17/04 [critical of proposed House rule change to protect House Majority Leader Tom DeLay]
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 11/19/04
Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), 11/20/04
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), 11/20/04
Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), 11/21/04
Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), 11/22/04
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), 11/22/04
Loren Thompson (Lexington Institute), 11/23/04
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), 11/23/04
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 11/24/04
Kenneth Stevens (Physicians For Compassionate Care), 11/24/04
Dr. Jane Orient (American Association of Physicians & Surgeons), 11/25/04
Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT), 11/30/04
Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), 11/30/04
Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), 12/2/04
Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, 12/3/04
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 12/5/04
Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), 12/6/04
Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), 12/6/04
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 12/6/04
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 12/7/04 [critical of Bush administration policy in Iraq]
Tad DeHaven (National Taxpayers Union), 12/9/04
Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, 12/11/04
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, 12/13/04
Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), 12/13/04
Dr. Joe McIlhaney (Medical Institute For Sexual Health), 12/13/04
Representative Peter T. King (R-NY), 12/13/04
Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), 12/29/04 [critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld]
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 12/19/04 [critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld]
White House chief of staff Andrew Card, 12/25/04
Steve Noble (Christian activist, Called2Action), 12/23/04
Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), 12/26/04
Republican political consultant Edward Rollins, 12/27/04
Richard N. Perle (Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee), 12/28/04
Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 1/2/05
Former President George H.W. Bush, 1/3/05
Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), 1/6/04
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), 1/6/04
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), 1/6/04
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, 1/10/04
Radio host Rush Limbaugh, 1/10/05
John H. Hinderaker (blogger, Power Line), 1/10/05
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1/12/05
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 1/13/05
Senior Bush adviser Dan Bartlett, 1/16/05
Treasury Secretary John Snow, 1/16/05
David Boaz (Cato Institute), 1/16/05
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 1/18/05
Christina Hoff Sommers (American Enterprise Institute), 1/21/05
Reverend Billy Graham, 1/21/05
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 1/21/05 [critical of Bush administration policy in Iraq]
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), 1/25/05
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, 1/27/05
Richard Perle (Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee), 1/31/05
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), 2/1/05
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 2/2/05
Senior Bush adviser Dan Bartlett, 2/2/05
Colorado Governor Bill Owens, 2/3/05
Radio host Rush Limbaugh, 2/4/05
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2/4/05
Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), 2/4/05 [critical of Bush administration's Social Security proposal]
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2/4/05
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2/5/05
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2/7/05
Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), 2/9/05 [critical of Bush administrations's Social Security proposal]
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 2/11/05
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), 2/11/05
Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, 2/12/05
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2/15/05
CIA Director Porter Goss, 2/16/05
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), 2/17/05

The segments on political topics also included 48 clips of comments from individuals who were not identified as affiliated with organizations promoting particular political viewpoints. Of these, five offered commentary consistent with a progressive viewpoint, five offered commentary consistent with a conservative viewpoint, and 38 offered commentary that was informational or politically neutral. Descriptions of each guest's commentary are provided in brackets.

Progressive commentary Conservative commentary Neutral commentary

Melanie Cox (parent), 12/13/04 [critical of abstinence-only education]

Bill Mitchell (Iraq war protester), 1/20/05 [on the inauguration]

Maureen Fager (warehouse worker), 2/5/05 [expressed worry that partial privatization of Social Security is "a gamble"]

Ros Altmann (economist), 2/2/05 [critical of Bush administration Social Security proposal]

James Bamford (national security expert), 2/17/05 [critical of Bush national intelligence director nominee John Negroponte]

Robert Lieber (Georgetown University professor), 11/16/04 [said of then-Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice and President Bush: "They've had a very good and close working relationship over the last four years. That's something Powell did not have, and it's a major asset she would bring with her."]

Fareha Ahmed (college student), 12/16/04 [said of Social Security: "By the time I get to be the age to accept Social Security, there won't be any there for me to accept."]

Sam Garrett (college professor), 12/16/04 [said of Social Security: "If some sort of privatization can allow for some sort of a more long-term guarantee of financial stability, then I think that's great news."]

Reverend Patrick Wooden (Upper Room Church Of God In Christ, Raleigh, NC), 12/23/04 [said: "We've gone from 'Merry Christmas' to 'Merry X-mas' to 'Season's Greetings' to 'Happy Holidays' and now just simply 'Holidays.']

Charles Davis (private finance professional), 1/29/05 [supported Bush administration's proposed private accounts for Social Security]

Larry J. Sabato (University of Virginia Center for Politics), 11/3/04 [said: "George W. Bush is the inheritor of the Reagan conservative movement on social and cultural issues."]

Robert J. Lieber (Georgetown University professor), 11/15/04 [said of then-Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice: "Clearly, the Bush policies are ones she agreed with and endorsed, and that will be on the mind of foreign leaders. But at the same time, she's a tough, experienced, knowledgeable, capable person who has the confidence of the president."]

Joseph Cirincione (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), 11/19/04 [on Iran and North Korea]

Larry Noble (Center For Responsive Politics), 11/19/04 [called the pharmaceutical industry "a very sophisticated industry, knowing how to play Washington with political contributions, lobbying and publicity."]

Eric Heginbotham (Council On Foreign Relations), 11/20/04 [on North Korea]

Joseph Cirincione (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), 11/21/04 [on Iran and North Korea]

Steve Ellis (Taxpayers For Common Sense), 11/24/04 [on the 2005 omnibus Appropriations bill: "Well, at first blush, you do laugh. It's titillating, you know, to see money going to a B.B. King museum or asparagus research or potato storage. But then after that, you start crying."]

Steve Lovelady (Columbia Journalism Review), 12/11/04 [on the reporter who coached a soldier in his question to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld]

Edward E. Yardeni (Oak Associates), 12/13/04 [on the economy]

Charles Haynes (First Amendment Center), 12/23/04 [on the use of "Merry Christmas": "I think that, you know, we have become kind of -- the land of the free has become the land of the easily offended. ... Many people feel left out and hurt in our history, and they don't want religion imposed on them in the public square."]

Jessica Tuchman Matthews (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), 12/27/04 [said of President Bush and Europe: "He's not going to win them back overnight. There's going to be no magic turnaround."]

Edward E. Yardeni (Oak Associates), 12/27/04 [said reforming Social Security will ultimately require "some painful cuts in benefits."]

Ted Weisberg (Seaport Securities), 1/1/05 [on the 2005 economic outlook]

Linda Korpi (wine shopper), 1/1/05 [on the 2005 economic outlook]

Mark Vitner (Wachovia Corp.), 1/1/05 [on the 2005 economic outlook]

Washington Post staff writer and media critic Howard Kurtz, 1/10/05 [on the Independent Review Panel report on CBS]

Pamela Liebman (Corcoran Group), 1/19/05 [on the economy]

Jan Hatzius (Goldman Sachs), 1/19/05 [on the economy]

Maj. Chuck Kilbride, 1/20/05 [on the inauguration]

Nancy Hopkins (MIT Biology Professor), 1/21/05 [responded to comments about gender differences made by Harvard University president Larry Summers]

Carol B. Muller (Mentornet), 1/22/05 [responded to comments about gender differences made by Harvard University president Larry Summers]

Harvey Silverglate (attorney, author), 1/22/05 [responded to comments about gender differences made by Harvard University president Larry Summers]

David Yeske (financial planner), 1/29/05 [on Bush administration's proposed private accounts for Social Security, said investors "tend to chase returns."]

Fareha Ahmed (American University student), 2/3/05 [responded to President Bush's Social Security plan as outlined in his State of the Union address]

Sam Garrett (American University professor), 2/3/05 [responded to President Bush's Social Security plan as outlined in his State of the Union address]

Timothy Garton Ash (European Studies Centre, Oxford University), 2/4/05 [on US relations with Iran]

Robert Bixby (Concord Coalition), 2/4/05 [said of Social Security: "Whether or not you do private accounts, you have to do something to change the basic underlying system because there's a gap between what are promises and what it can deliver."]

Timothy Garton Ash (European Studies Centre, Oxford University), 2/5/05 [on US-European relations]

David Yeske (financial planner), 2/5/05 [on Social Security]

James Pindell (PoliticsNH.com), 2/6/05 [on New Hampshire presidential politics]

Dr. Maureen Thielen (Central Dallas Ministries), 2/7/05 [said proposed Medicaid cuts would be hard on poorer patients]

Ropa Whiteley (Together Rx Access), 2/12/05 [on the "Together Rx Access" plan]

Robin Ellison (National Association of Pension Funds, UK), 2/2/05 [on the effects of privatization on England's pension system]

Juan Cole (University of Michigan professor), 2/14/05 [said of the Iraqi election: "All of these religious Shiite parties that came to power very much want the implementation of Islamic law and replacing civil law with Islamic law."]

Bruce Sommers (New Hampshire resident), 2/16/05 [on the debate about Social Security]

Mary Ross (New Hampshire resident), 2/16/05 [on the debate about Social Security]

Jeffrey Plante (New Hampshire resident), 2/16/05 [on the debate about Social Security]

Costas Mimimas (New Hampshire resident), 2/16/05 [on the debate about Social Security]

Media Matters has also noted several recent incidents that run counter to the idea promoted by conservatives that CBS has a "liberal bias":

  • In November, CBS officials refused to air an advertisement for the United Church of Christ that promoted inclusion of gays, racial minorities and people with disabilities because they considered it "unacceptable for broadcast," noting in particular the Bush administration's endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment as part of their justification for not airing the ad.
  • On December 15, a CBS Evening News report on a December White House economic conference misstated the facts about Social Security to suggest that the program will stop paying out benefits much sooner than it actually will.
  • On January 5, a CBS Early Show anchor echoed the crisis rhetoric employed by the Bush administration in its attempt sell the public on partially privatized Social Security.
  • In their coverage of President Bush's State of the Union address on February 2, CBS anchors and correspondents universally adopted the misleading White House-approved term "personal accounts" (here and here) to describe the administration's plan to partially privatize Social Security.
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