The New York Times has an assessment of the perennial Sunday show guest: a short list of U.S. senators, topped by Sen. John McCain. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace tells the Times Senator McCain checks most of the the boxes that all the shows look for. “What makes a good guest is someone who makes news. To make news, you have to be at the center of the news and willing to talk about it in a noncanned way, someone who always come to the shows ready to play.”
The combined viewership of the Sunday shows on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX is less than 9 million viewers. By comparison, the same number tune into “NBC Nightly News,” the evening news ratings leader, every night. Critics complain the news that emanates from the Sunday shows can unevenly influence the news cycle.
“You can go on Charlie Rose midweek and have a long conversation that ends in a game of strip poker and no one will pay attention,” said Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “You go on a Sunday show, and everyone is looking for the slightest change, a new syllable, some new nuance.”