Tilting Rightward: C-SPAN's Coverage of Think Tanks

Publication Date:

Publisher: Center for Economic and Policy Research

Author(s): Juan Antonio Montecino; Mark Weisbrot

Research Area: Media, telecommunications, and information

Keywords: Political parties; Journalistic coverage; Cable television

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This study’s main finding is that C-SPAN coverage of think tanks overwhelmingly favors conservative think tanks while left-of-center think tanks are under-represented. In 2006, conservative think tanks received 43.76 percent of total think tank coverage. Conservative/ libertarian and centrist think tanks received 6.94 percent and 31.76 percent respectively. Center-left and progressive think tanks, on the other hand, only received 12.73 percent and 4.86 percent respectively. Thus, the combined conservative and conservative/libertarian think tanks got an absolute majority of 50.7 percent representation on C-SPAN. Everything left of center got only 17.59 percent, just one third of the coverage received by the Right.

C-SPAN’s coverage of think tanks suggests it has failed to fulfill its mission to provide “a balanced presentation of points of view.” A review of recent polls also suggests that C-SPAN’s coverage of think tanks is not only off-balance in absolute numerical terms but also relative to public opinion in a wide range of political issues.