While conservatives accused Face the Nation of slanting left, Schieffer came clean on program's Republican-dominated guest list


Appearing on FOX News' Hannity & Colmes, CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer accurately pointed out that his program, Face the Nation, has featured more Republicans than Democrats since the November 2 presidential election. Schieffer was responding to co-host Sean Hannity, who echoed numerous conservatives' complaints that Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) appeared on the January 16 edition of Face the Nation without a Republican counterpart.

Indeed, since the November 2 presidential election, Face the Nation has featured eleven appearances by current or former Republican officials, seven appearances by current or former Democratic officials, and one appearance by a former official who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

From the January 19 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Bob, there was a report -- and I watch your show almost every week. And you have liberals, you have conservatives, you have Republicans and Democrats. There was a report this week that, when you had Ted Kennedy on, that the White House wanted an opportunity, though, and that that was not provided. Is that true?

SCHIEFFER: Yes. Dan Bartlett, who is the White House communications chief, was on three broadcasts on Sunday. He was on Meet the Press. He was on FOX News. He was on Wolf Blitzer's show on CNN. And we were asked if we would like him also. Since he was going to be on three other shows, we decided not to do that.

Senator Kennedy, obviously, is the leader of the liberal left. He is going to be a big part of the Washington debate this year. And since -- to be quite honest -- since we had had more Republicans on since the election than we had Democrats, we thought it was a good chance to put Senator Kennedy on.

You know, we're a half-hour broadcast. And I don't think it's necessary every time we have a Democrat on to have a Republican on. I mean, we have had, I think, Senator [Bill] Frist [R-TN] on for the entire show, the Republican leader in the Senate. We have had Secretary of State [Colin] Powell on for the entire broadcast. In one broadcast, we had three Republicans on and didn't have a Democrat.

I think it's -- what we're trying to do is follow the news. I thought it was a good time to have Senator Kennedy on to see what his reactions to the administration were going to be and to kind of set the stage. I think it's just part of the dialogue. But, no, we didn't turn down anybody from the White House.

Hannity's question to Schieffer apparently related to criticism of Face the Nation by FOX News host, managing editor, and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume on the January 16 edition of FOX Broadcasting Company's FOX News Sunday:

HUME: Ted Kennedy makes a very partisan speech this week. Ted Kennedy is not the large figure that he once was in American life and probably will never be again. And he is the sole guest on the CBS program this morning.

The White House was happy to put Dan Bartlett or somebody else on that program, and CBS said, "Thank you, no" -- peculiar behavior for people who were only recently saying they wanted to make a, quote, "fresh start" with the White House.

On January 16, the right-wing news website NewsMax.com reported Hume's remark, followed by the conservative Media Research Center (MRC) on January 17. Greg Pierce's "Inside Politics" column in the January 18 Washington Times repeated the MRC's account.

On January 17, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer of the "All-Star Panel" on FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume also complained that Kennedy appeared on Face the Nation without a Republican counterpart, and panelist and Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke contended that the CBS program's segments are skewed to the left. First, Fred Barnes said, "I think it's peculiar that they would put on Senator Kennedy for the entire time on their Sunday show right after all of this [Independent Review Panel report examining CBS News' 60 Minutes Wednesday's September 8, 2004, broadcast of questionable memos], reportedly because he's given an important speech on liberalism." Krauthammer said that if CBS wants a "fresh start" after the 60 Minutes scandal, "it isn't exactly a good way to start by putting on a new speech by Kennedy, and treating it as the greatest news since Swiss cheese."

Kondracke then claimed that Face the Nation has a liberal slant:

KONDRACKE: You know, the other thing that Face the Nation, the main program; I don't watch it all that much. But every time I've watched it, it's always an anti-corporate -- like pharmaceutical companies -- oh, my God. I mean, it's the piling on of the usual suspects. And it's almost always from a left perspective, and you rarely get, as ABC did with John Stossel for a while, a countervailing sort of take on a subject.

It would be refreshing for CBS to look at itself and see, you know, what it could be doing that would respect the views of half of the country that is conservative.

But Schieffer is correct. Following are the guests that have appeared on Face the Nation since the November 2 presidential election:

November 7
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

November 14
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Representative Jane Harman (D-CA)
TIME magazine Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy

November 21
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)
New York Times columnist David Brooks
Los Angeles Times staff writer Doyle McManus

November 28
Author Ron Chernow
Historian Joseph Ellis
Author and Washington Post staff writer Bob Woodward

December 5
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
TIME magazine Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy

December 12
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Former baseball manager Tommy Lasorda
Author and USA Today columnist Hal Bodley
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica
Author and ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney

December 19
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

December 26
Senator-elect John Thune (R-SD)
Senator-elect Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Senator-elect Ken Salazar (D-CO)

January 2
UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy
Secretary of State Colin Powell

January 9
UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy
Former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former George H.W. Bush and Clinton administration official Dennis Ross

January 16
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

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