LatinaLista — Anyone who regularly watches the Sunday morning political talk shows knows that the hosts and vast majority of guests are white and male. For anyone who tries to refute that obvious diversity imbalance, there's a quarterly study that underscores just how bad it is.
Media Matters, a media watchdog organization, has released their latest study, The Demographics Of The Sunday Morning Political Talk Shows.
The study underscores the obvious:
On the four broadcast shows and CNN, white men represented a majority of all guests: 60 percent on This Week, 67 percent on Face the Nation, 67 percent on Fox News Sunday, 62 percent on Meet the Press, and 54 percent on State of the Union. On Up and Melissa Harris-Perry, white men represented a plurality of guests at 42 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
Yet, what is surprising given the illusion of balance of opinion that each show, with the exception of one network, would like to portray themselves exhibiting, is that the majority of white male guests on these shows are conservative.
On the four broadcast shows, white, conservative men represented more than a quarter of all guests at 29 percent. White, progressive men represented close to half that amount at 15 percent. White, neutral men represented 23 percent. All other groups were in the single digits.
When it comes to the actual ethnic and gender breakdown of guests, the story hasn't changed much either:
On broadcast and CNN, white men were the largest proportion of guests given a one-on-one interview with the host by a significant margin: 68 percent of solo interviews on This Week were given to white men, 76 percent on Face the Nation, 72 percent on Fox News Sunday, 73 percent on Meet the Press, and 73 percent on State of the Union. Only Melissa Harris-Perry featured a significant proportion of solo interviews with non-white guests, largely African-Americans. Few Latinos and almost no Asian-Americans or Middle Eastern guests received solo interviews. Up did not conduct enough solo interviews in the period studied to be included in the chart.
Women of color were significantly underrepresented on broadcast -- only 5 percent of guests were women of color compared to 19 percent in the population. Only MSNBC -- due primarily to Melissa Harris-Perry - hosted its guests closer to their representation in the population. White women were underrepresented on all shows.
The take-aways from this ongoing study are several:
1. Major networks and cable Sunday morning political talk shows are doing a LOUSY job of booking not only a diverse roster of guests but diversifying their own ranks of roundtable opinionators.
2. The fact that so many of these shows, with the exception of Melissa Harris-Perry, leads to the assumption that the ranks of their producers - who book the guests - must also lack diversity or basic journalistic skills to know where to find qualified people of color to appear on their shows.
3. The only way to achieve more inclusion on these shows, and in essence, include the voices of people of color in the national dialogue of issues and policies, is to have more hosts of color who will bring in diverse guests — and host a show that will actually resemble what this country looks like in the 21st Century.