Who's Really the "Best Political Team on Television"?

If you’ve tuned in CNN this election season, you’ve heard the network’s claim of “the best political team on television” repeated as many as 50 times a day by anchors like Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer. But how do the networks’ teams stack up?

When asked for their “political teams,” none of the networks claimed the pundits who babble on, even though the networks fill much of their primary coverage with analysis from the likes of Bill Bennett,  Donna Brazile, and even Karl Rove. Here’s how the networks compare:


CNN Fox News MSNBC/NBC News ABC News CBS
Big names Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper Brit Hume, Shepard Smith Tim Russert, Brian Williams George Stephanopoulos, Charlie Gibson Bob Schieffer, Katie Couric
Embarrassing incident Had to shelve pundits Paul Begala and James Carville for their ties to Hillary Clinton’s camp. Bill Kristol’s ongoing neocon defense. Chris Matthews’s mouth has gotten him in trouble so often that Media Matters has launched aMatthewsMonitor Web site. Consultant Alexis Debat was fired after he faked interviews with newsmakers for another news organization. Video of Couric leaked online showing her fussing and swearing off-air during the New Hampshire primary.
Best on-air reporters Jessica Yellin, Ed Henry Carl Cameron The Davids: Gregory andShuster Jake Tapper Sharyl Attkisson
Typical pundit Bill Schneider Juan Williams Howard Fineman Cokie Roberts Jeff Greenfield
Behind-the-scenes force DC bureau chief David Bohrman Owner Rupert Murdoch Meet the Press executive producer Betsy Fischer Senior executive political director Virginia Moseley Political director Molly Levinson
Online coverage Blitzer’s Best Political Podcast Poli-Ticker by campaign embeds The First Read by Chuck Todd The Note by Rick Klein Horserace by Brian Montopoli, Vaughn Ververs, and others
Coverage makes you ask . . . Why is legal analyst Jeff Toobin analyzing exit polls? Is that the same blonde who was on last hour? Does Pat Buchanan ever stop talking? How much does Stephanopoulos work out? Is Couric having any fun?
Slogan “Best political team on television” “The best political team ever” “The place for politics” None “America’s most watched network”
Annoying-patter level 3 megaphones 4.5 megaphones 4 megaphones 2 megaphones 1 megaphone