Posting an excerpt of the book
in progress. It is, of course, subject to revision, editing, or outright removal before the book’s actually done. that’s now published. I’ve gone and made sure it’s fully up to date with the same chapter in the published version.
After you spend enough time on the Sunday morning talk shows, you learn that they only book so many different people. In fact, when you boil it down, they only book about five different guests. Sure, every once in a while they’ll do something crazy, like having a woman on, a noteworthy average American, or even a celebrity, but usually it’s one of these five people. The names and faces change, but they’re all pretty similar to each other.
These shows are all deathly afraid of being seen as having a liberal bias, so to counteract this they consistently book Republicans and Democrats at a ratio of roughly 8-1.
1: Random Politicians
There’s always plenty of these guys around. Not only are there 535 of them in Congress, but you can also pull in governors and mayors, out-of-office politicians, and even the occasional candidate. Many of them are more than happy to appear on your show, whether to advance an agenda, keep themselves in the public eye, or because they didn’t feel like going home that week.
It can be dangerous to send one of these men onto the Sunday shows away from their staff, but they’re usually briefed beforehand. Also, the producers know that they can’t be too tough with any guest, but this is very true with politicians. Almost always, the hosts will ask them questions so softball that they embarrass a T-ball stand. If the guest is extremely unpopular, under active indictment, or possibly just a Democrat they might get more difficult questions, but even this is unusual.
Candidates, especially Presidential candidates, are the least fun to have on the shows. They want the exposure, but are deathly afraid of saying something that will alienate voters. The guys who are out of office are pretty good, unless they have intentions of running again, since they just don’t give a fuck anymore. A stupid politician is manna from heaven for these sorts of shows, since they might not watch what they say as well as a smarter or more skilled one. The most succulent piece of Sunday talk show guest, though, taken from the juicy rump of the animal, is the sitting politician who goes on the show who is so stupid and thuggish that he will say absolutely anything and everything that comes to mind, whether or not it’s true, he believes it, it makes any kind of sense whatsoever, or if it fits in with his party’s general talking points at all. A guest like this is a precious thing, who should be seared to seal in the flavor and grilled gently to maximize the juiciness. They’ll get brought back onto the show repeatedly, assuming their handlers permit it.
2: Random “Experts”
Experts give a Sunday morning talk show extra flavor. Whether or not they have any qualifications beyond a signed letter from the Heritage Foundation is irrelevant. They’ll come on and either inform the watchers at home with their depth and breadth of knowledge, or they’ll sit there and claim with a straight face that drilling in the ANWR is good for the environment, that abortion causes breast cancer, the Pill kills babies, or that it’s fair to protect bankers but not to give people health care. If you flip through the Rolodex enough, you’ll find someone willing to say almost anything on television.
Often times, by amazing coincidence, these experts coming on the show will have a book coming out. If they don’t manage to work that into the discussion, the host will usually helpfully point it out for the benefit of the audience. It is unknown how much of a difference these TV appearances make with book sales, but they keep doing it.
If the subject is an issue like abortion, birth control, or gender pay disparity, under no circumstances will a woman be allowed onto the show to discuss it. Issues that are that important are to be left to the real experts (namely, men), who can calmly discuss them without getting hysterical about ”X affects women” or ”Y infringes on our rights.” Many women don’t care for this at all, but as of yet their resentment has not brought any changes on the shows.
3: Other Reporters
Reporters are the “filler” on the Sunday morning talk shows. They aren’t usually famous enough to get booked on their own, even if they’d be better guests than most of the others, but they will get brought on to help fill the show out and seem more journalistic. The hosts were often actual journalists in their earlier careers, too, and they like to help the next generation out.
Journalists are good to have on because they bring facts and objectivity, or at least the appearances thereof, to the show. Even if they aren’t actually worthwhile, they help convince people that your show is Very Serious™. You can’t bring on too many, though, or you lose the star power of the Thad McCotters and Alan Simpsons of the world.
4: Political Advisors
Political advisors are a particularly fertile ground for these shows. You can hardly turn a over a rock in Washington without finding a few advisors, and most of them are willing to go onto your show. I cannot recommend that you actually go around turning rocks over in Washington, DC; you may accidentally find James Carville, and that would be awkward.
The advisors are brought on when the producers want a viewpoint that’s too controversial for the politicians to take and too partisan for the reporters, who are generally expected to maintain a veneer of objectivity in their work. Working for one of those alphabet soup groups, or an extreme conservative think tank with an innocuous name, gives their words added weight too. Their opinions and knowledge of the issues may not be particularly worthwhile, but they’re considered important people and are willing to come on the show.
The Sunday morning shows are especially good for out of work advisors. They don’t have anything better to do between gigs, and since their behavior won’t reflect badly on their bosses they can say things that other surrogates can’t. If the producers are very lucky, these guests will say especially controversial things. Ratings go up, everyone gets more attention, and whatever talking point they wanted out there gets discussed.
5: John McCain
Some say that the only constant is change, but that’s a ridiculous liberal myth. The real constant is that John McCain will be on the Sunday morning talk shows. He hasn’t actually been invited on a show in many years; he just turns up and goes on. No one has the heart to tell him that he wasn’t booked that week.
It’s not all bad that John McCain is always hanging around the studio, however. He keeps the fridge in the green room stocked with tasty snacks befitting his station. They’re quite tasty, and even though he writes his name on them with a marker they’re free for the taking.