STUDY: Five Months Of Late Night: 93 Liberal Guests, 1 Conservative

February 6th, 2023 10:43 AM

The late-night comedy shows ended 2022 with a unanimously liberal guest count and that trend continued until the very last day of January, a NewsBusters study has revealed.

MRC analysts found that from Labor Day through January 31, liberal guests outnumbered conservative guests 93 to 1. It was 99 percent liberal and/or Democrat. The one exception was My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell who Jimmy Kimmel put on to mock.

This is follow up to MRC’s late night guest election campaign study.

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 and 2023 temp hosts. 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 27 Democrats to 0 Republicans. Stephen Colbert led with ten, Noah was second with seven, Meyers was third at four, Fallon came in fourth with three, Kimmel placed fifth at two, and Corden was sixth and last with one.

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke, and former First Lady Michelle Obama were the guests who appeared multiple times during the length of the study. Obama's appearance on Colbert was split into multiple episodes and is counted as multiple appearances and was the only guest to appear three times.

As for journalists and celebrities, the results were 66 liberals to 1 conservative. Stephen Colbert was again the most partisan with 21. Trevor Noah and The Daily Show temp hosts came in second at 17 (11 for Noah, 1 for Leslie Jones, 2 for Wanda Sykes, 3 for D.L. Hughley). Meyers and Fallon tied for bronze with ten. Kimmel again placed fifth with seven and Corden was the least partisan with one.

Lindell's trend-breaking appearance came with the stipulation that he agree to do the interview from a claw machine. It was Kimmel's first right-leaning political guest since Lindell's last appearance 644 days previously on April 28, 2021, and the first such guest on all of late night since Sen. Tim Scott appeared on the August 8, 2022, edition of The Daily Show 177 days previously. For Republicans who actively seek to help Democrats get elected, see the methodology section below.

Of the guests, CBS’s Gayle King, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan, HBO’s John Oliver, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, MSNBC's Alex Wagner, Chelsea Handler, and Trevor Noah each had multiple appearances. Oliver was the only one to appear three times.

By outlet the results were as follows:

1. CNN/CNN International: 12 (ten current, and then past host Soledad O'Brien and reporter Maria Ressa)


3. Comedy Central: 6

T4: CBS, ABC: 5

6. HBO: 4

7. New York Times: 3

8. PBS: 2

T9: NPR, The Nation, The Atlantic: 1

Fox News had zero.

Here is a compressive breakdown of the six shows and their guests.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Alex Wagner, Tony Dokoupil, Gayle King, Nina Totenberg, George Stephanopoulos, Ken Burns, John Oliver, Clarissa Ward, Anderson Cooper (twice), Maggie Haberman, Nikole-Hannah JonesPete Buttigieg, Samantha Power, Nancy PelosiAnthony Fauci, Cody Keenan, Elizabeth Warren, Ernest Moniz, Janet Yellen, John Dickerson, Jon Stewart, Don Lemon, Maria Ressa, Michelle Obama (twice), Chris Wallace, Jeremy Pope, Trevor Noah, Adam Kinzinger, and Audie Cornish. 

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, Raphael Warnock, Barack Obama, Wes Moore, Mark Leibovich, Ondi Timoner, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Michael Strahan.

DAILY SHOW TEMP HOSTS: Alexis McGill Johnson, Katha Pollitt, Sherilyn Ifill, Benjamin Crump, Nic Stone, and Ibram Kendi.

SETH MEYERS: Gayle King, John Oliver, Jake Tapper, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea ClintonKamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Handler, Steve Kornacki, Chris Hayes, Roy Wood Jr, Leslie Jones, Jonathan Lemire, and Alex Wagner.

JIMMY FALLON: Rachel Maddow, Trevor NoahHillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Sigourney Weaver, Jen Psaki, Michael Strahan, Whoopi Goldberg, James Corden, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Chelsea Handler, and John Oliver.

JIMMY KIMMEL: David Letterman, Beto O’Rourke, Michelle Obama, Bill Maher, George Conway, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin, and Mike Lindell.

JAMES CORDEN: Yuval Noah Harai and Pete Buttigieg.

Methodology: The study ran Labor Day, September 5, through New Year’s Eve on December 31. 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, political 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 unless they are currently affiliated with a media outlet.

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. George Conway and Adam Kinzinger are identified as liberals for their active opposition to Republicans. Kinzinger is identified as a CNN personality, not a former congressman.