Pardon the Rant

+ More

Pardon the rant, but it's absolutely untenable that in this day, in this age, in this millennium, a study such as this one provides some awfully antiquated-sounding findings. Media Matters (a progressive media organization) released a survey this week of female and minority talking heads and hosts on cable TV news shows, titled, "Locked Out: The Lack of Gender and Ethnic Diversity on Cable News Continues."

Media Matters clocked the number of female commentators and commentators of color during and after the recent Don Imus dust-up. In sum, while the number of quote, diverse, end quote, guests on prime-time cable rose somewhat during the Imus controversy, that diversity has dwindled since. And as to diversity among hosts? The findings are pitiful.

Media Matters writes, "Whites dominated the guest lists on all three networks in the weeks we examined. All three brought on substantially more African-American guests during the week of the Imus controversy, but largely went back to their white-dominated guest lists following the controversy." The weeks covered were Monday through Friday during the first, second, and fourth weeks of April 2007.

The programs analyzed included "CNN's The Situation Room, CNN's Paula Zahn Now, CNN's Larry King Live, Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, MSNBC's Countdown With Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's Scarborough Country. [Media Matters] chose these programs because they air during prime time, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. It should be noted that Fox News's Fox Report, which airs at 7 p.m., does not normally have guests and was therefore excluded from this study for purposes of guest analysis."

As to gender, "CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC did not fare particularly well when it came to gender diversity in any of the three weeks. Among the individual programs, there was more variation. The most gender-diverse program was The O'Reilly Factor, with a nearly even split between male and female guests during all three weeks, increasing Fox News's overall proportion of female guests.

Despite the fact that the remarks that touched off the controversy were not only racist but misogynistic, only Paula Zahn Now and The Situation Room increased their proportion of female guests substantially from the first week to the second. And three others, all of which air on MSNBC–Scarborough Country, Countdown With Keith Olbermann, and Hardball–all hosted fewer women during the week of the Imus controversy than the week before." Hmmm!

As to hosts, Media Matters reports, "In total, there are 35 hosts and cohosts of cable-news programs during these hours. All 35 are white, and 29 of the 35 are male."

Let me note for the record, I am a big-time fan of white men! My husband is one, my father was one, etc. Women want men showcased as experts too. But without gender and racial diversity, the vast gender and ethnic mélange that is the American population and culture is not represented. And that's like bouillabaisse with no spice.