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STUDY: Be My (Leftist) Guest: How PBS’s False Objectivity Poisons Political Debate

By Clay Waters

The taxpayer-subsidized Public Broadcasting Service, or PBS, established in 1969, has an outdated reputation for delivering a polite, objective take on the news of the day, exemplified by its flagship evening news program, now called the PBS NewsHour.

But a new Media Research Center study deflates that outdated assumption, tracking and labeling every guest that appeared on the NewsHour over a four-month period, November 2022 through February 2023, and found that liberal-Democratic guests outnumbered conservative-Republican guests 126-34, a ratio of 3.7 to 1.

When elected officials and political appointees were removed from the guest count, the disparity was even more striking, with liberal-Democratic guests outnumbering conservative-Republican guests 91-16, a ratio of 5.7-to-1. Identifiably liberal journalists (including Caitlin Dickerson of The Atlantic and Kate Sosin of The 19th News) appeared a total of ten times as guests, while no conservative journalist made the cut (see methodology below).

The findings reveal the profound skew of PBS’s flagship news program toward the left side. Besides the standard academic apologists for Democrats and Democratic policy, some guests were truly radical choices, more suited to hard-left MSNBC than a taxpayer-funded, ostensibly “straight” newscastThe numbers break against the old, misleading image of public broadcasting as a safe haven from the loud, partisan voices of cable news, of old-school hosts Robert McNeil and Jim Lehrer solemnly intoning the facts of the day. Instead, liberal topics discussed by liberal guests dominate the NewsHour, with virtually no ideological back-and-forth debate.

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