December 18, 2007

C-SPAN Favors Conservative Think Tanks 3-to-1 Over Left-of-Center, Study Finds

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2007
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-293-5380 x104

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new study has found that C-SPAN overwhelmingly favors conservative think tanks in its coverage by a three-to-one margin over all left-of-center think tanks. The paper, “Tilting Rightward: C-SPAN’s Coverage of Think Tanks,” by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), found that conservatives received 44 percent of total think tank coverage, while conservative/libertarian received another 7 percent, for a right-wing majority of 51 percent. Everything left of center received only 18 percent, with center-left and progressive think tanks garnering 13 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Centrist think tanks got the rest of the coverage.

“C-SPAN is failing to live up to its mission of providing ‘a balanced presentation of points of view,’” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR and co-author of the study. “In a significant amount of its coverage – events and analysis by influential organizations shaping policy – C-SPAN is presenting opinions that, most of the time, are far to the right of most Americans. It is also lopsided by any common definition of the political spectrum, with a very large bias toward the right.”

C-SPAN’s think-tank coverage presents more conservative ideas than are shared by most Americans, according to recent polling on various key issues such as treatment of terrorism suspects, health care, withdrawing troops from Iraq, trade policy, inequality, and global warming. The findings suggest that C-SPAN’s coverage of think tanks is at odds with its mission statement of providing balance on issues of public policy.

In researching the study, CEPR examined C-SPAN’s 2006 coverage of the top forty think tanks cited in the media over the past three years. CEPR compiled the number of events, panel discussions, speeches, talk show appearances, and interviews with representatives of these think-tanks, as archived on C-SPAN’s website, which according to C-SPAN is comprehensive.

C-SPAN is funded by cable companies and is presented as a public service. According to its mission statement, it is intended to "provide C-SPAN's audience access to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided--all without editing, commentary or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view.” Americans considered C-SPAN to be the third-most credible television news outlet, in a Pew Research Center poll conducted last year.