NEW YORK -– In the weeks leading up to the United States beginning airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, few opposition voices could be heard on Sunday public affairs shows and several prominent news and opinion programs, according to a new study from progressive watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
FAIR found only 6 of 205 guests expressed opposition to U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria during appearances on the programs studied between Sept. 7 and Sept. 21. The U.S., which had been striking Islamic State targets in Iraq since the previous month, began its bombing campaign in Syria on Sept. 23.
Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel was the only anti-war guest of 89 total guests who appeared on the Sunday shows, according to the study.
For its report, FAIR looked at ABC's "This Week," NBC's "Meet the Press," CBS' "Face the Nation," Fox News' "Special Report" and "Fox News Sunday," CNN's "State of the Union" and "Situation Room," MSNBC's "Hardball," and "PBS NewsHour."
The lack of anti-war voices leading up to the strikes was consistent with a similar lack in the debate prior to the U.S.' intervention against the Islamic State in Iraq. Several top Bush administration officials were given airtime in July to advocate for military intervention in Iraq, despite how badly they bungled the war a decade earlier. Meanwhile, others who expressed skepticism in 2003 didn't get as much air time in the more recent debates.
The disparity in bookings was also reminiscent of the run-up to the Iraq War, when hawkish, pro-war voices seemed to drown out the opposition on influential news and opinion shows.
The Huffington Post noted in September how politicians and pundits often appeared on broadcast and cable news shows claiming that the Islamic State represented an imminent threat to the U.S., even as government agencies and experts were arguing that such was not the case.
More details from FAIR's study can be seen here.