The late-night comedy scene has been reliably liberal for a long time, but the 2022 midterm election was a regular messaging machine for the Democrats, a NewsBusters study has revealed.
MRC analysts found that during the fall campaign, from Labor Day through the Monday night before Election Day, liberal guests outnumbered conservative guests 47 to 0. It was 100 percent liberal and/or Democrat.
The study looked at the daily six late night comedy shows: ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Fox's Gutfeld! was not included.
MRC analysts divided guests into two categories: partisan officials and then journalists and celebrities.
When it came to the count of politicians, the count was 21 Democrats to 0 Republicans. Stephen Colbert led with seven, Noah was second with five, Meyers was third at four, Fallon came in fourth with three, and Corden and Kimmel tied for fifth with one.
Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke were the guests who appeared multiple times during the length of the study.
Interviews were typically very friendly. Jimmy Fallon joked with the Clintons about how Trump was terrible about keeping documents secure (completely avoiding Clinton security scandals). Seth Meyers began his Kamala Harris interview with this tribute: “You, as an administration, you have accomplished a great deal despite only having a 50/50 Senate.”
When it came to journalists and celebrities, the results were 26 liberals to 0 conservatives. Stephen Colbert was the most partisan with eleven. Trevor Noah came in second at seven. Meyers and Fallon were third at 3, and Kimmel and Corden again tied for fifth with one each.
Of the guests, CBS’s Gayle King, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, HBO’s John Oliver, and New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman each had multiple appearances. By outlet, CNN/CNN International led the way with six (five current, and then past host Soledad O'Brien), while CBS and the New York Times tied for second with three. HBO, MSNBC, ABC, and PBS each had two, while NPR and Comedy Central each had one.
No one is surprised that Fox News had zero.
To see complete guest lists with links to previous NewsBusters blogs on those episodes, see below.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Alex Wagner, Tony Dokoupil, Gayle King, Nina Totenberg, George Stephanopoulos, Ken Burns, John Oliver, Clarissa Ward, Anderson Cooper, Maggie Haberman, Nikole-Hannah Jones, Pete Buttigieg, Samantha Power, Nancy Pelosi, Anthony Fauci, Cody Keenan, Elizabeth Warren, and Ernest Moniz.
TREVOR NOAH: George Stephanopoulos, Christiane Amanpour, Maggie Haberman, Michael Fanone, Chelsea Manning, Soledad O’Brien, Elizabeth Banks, Marty Walsh, Beto O’Rourke, Cori Bush, Stacey Abrams, and Raphael Warnock.
JIMMY KIMMEL: David Letterman and Beto O’Rourke.
JAMES CORDEN: Yuval Noah Harai and Pete Buttigieg.
Methodology: The peak of the campaign was defined as Labor Day, September 5, through the last pre-Election Day shows on November 7. Journalists were defined as either liberal or conservative without regard to the segment’s subject matter. A celebrity was defined as either a current or former fellow late night host, left-wing activist, or anyone famous that was on to explicitly talk about politics. If a celebrity is known to have strong political beliefs, but did not discuss politics, they were not included.
A partisan official was defined as a current or previously elected politician, White House staffer, cabinet secretary, or any of their children who were on to discuss political matters.
Interesting Cases: Jen Psaki was included under role as former White House press secretary, not her current role at MSNBC or her past role at CNN. George Stephanopoulos was included for his current role at ABC, not for his time in the Clinton Administration. Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite serving under both parties, was listed as a Democrat due to him taking on a new role as President Biden’s chief medical advisor.