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If It’s Sunday, It’s Misogyny

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(guest blog by Taylor Marsh)

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, the person who dragged me out of bed for church every Sunday was my mother.

Frankly, I suspect that if you took a poll around this country, women would be the impetus for at least 50% of the homes getting religion on Sunday. That’s why it really burns me when every time religion, abortion, and "family values" are discussed we are either under represented or not included at all. When it comes to matters of state, war and peace, national security and keeping America safe, fughettaboutit.

If you’re up early on Sunday mornings in Washington, you can observe a weekly ritual. Around 9am, a string of chauffeured town cars and SUVs pulls up outside the NBC studio on Nebraska Avenue in Northwest Washington where "Meet the Press" is recorded, and out tumble government officials and politicians, reporters, and pundits. They scan the weekend papers over coffee in the green room, catch up with the women who apply their make-up, and wait for their chance to spin or pontificate. One thing you might notice about these select individuals—other than the fact that there are very few women—is that lately they are mostly conservative.

Which leads to another Sunday morning ritual: American liberals yelling at their televisions.

No, liberals, it’s not your imagination. "Meet the Press" and the other Sunday political talk shows really have leaned more to the right in recent years. At Media Matters for America, we looked at every one of the 7,000 guests who appeared on the three major Sunday shows from 1997 through 2005—Bill Clinton’s second term, George W. Bush’s first term, and the last year. We found that the left has of late found itself outnumbered, in some ways substantially, on the television shows that define the Washington conventional wisdom. Liberals are already a disturbingly rare species among what Calvin Trillin refers to as the "Sabbath Gasbags." And in some debates—the war in Iraq, for example—they are in danger of becoming extinct. … …

John Fund Again? – by Paul Waldman (emphasis added)
It’s not your imagination—the Sunday shows really do lean right.

The Sunday shows reach around 10 million people, according to Waldman. As he states in his article, Sunday morning shows are the ticket to respectability and pundit power, which extends to politicians who participate. The Sunday shows divvy up the debating points between the serious players, which often follows into the Monday morning newspapers.

It’s amazing that women who have opinions and can debate the facts are still considered, well, bitches.

If women aren’t part of the dialogue on the Sunday shows, we won’t be part of the solutions and power structure that makes those decisions. This matters, especially as women are at least half of the population.

So why aren’t women equally represented on the Sunday morning talk shows?

Got me.

Habit? Nobody cares? Nobody is paying attention? Nonsense. The public has to demand it, expect it and rely on hearing women’s voices on Sunday morning. Given the importance of women in the family’s faith, you’d think the panels would at least make an effort to invite some mothers on.

We won’t even start talking about Democratic or liberals and progressive women, because conservatives were 58% of the Sunday political talk show guests in 2005; 56% in 2004; 57% in 2003; 59% in 2002; 59% in 2001, according to Media Matters study, If It’s Sunday, It’s Conservative.

But getting back to women, we certainly aren’t being represented because there aren’t talented women out there who can speak authoritatively on a wide range of topics, whether it’s faith, abortion, "family values," or matters of foreign policy and national security.

To find out that female producers behind the scenes aren’t helping make women part of the conversation, however, is down right infuriating.

First, the most exasperating. Tim Russert has three producers, all of whom are women. So will someone please tell me why they are always booking men? This is especially true when the subject is faith, abortion, and "family values." It’s an outrage. Guests today include "a Catholic priest and nun; a Jewish rabbi, a Protestant minister, an Islamic scholar and a noted historian about the intersection of faith, morality and politics." Fine, but the bottom line also reads, one woman and five men, plus a clip of Billy Graham.

On George Stephanopolous’ "This Week," Donna Brazile is the only woman scheduled, but only for the panel discussion, with four men as guests, as well as more men as part of the panel. But women are rarely allowed as featured speakers on matters of state or world affairs.

There aren’t any women scheduled on Fox "News" Sunday, though Mara Liasson was included in the panel segment, however, Brit Hume seems irritated every time she speaks.

Bob Schieffer’s "Face the Nation," has no women scheduled. And again, Schieffer’s producer is a woman.

Wolf Blitzer has Senator Diane Feinstein, the token chick. For Easter religiosity, Wolf is offering up Rev. Jerry Falwell. Again, women evidently aren’t qualified to talk about faith on TV.

Look, I love men, absolutely love ’em. But it takes two genders to make the world go around. It’s also way past time that women got a chance to run things, or at least talk about how to run things, especially on the Sunday morning political talk show circuit. It’s doubtful we can do a worse job.

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Taylor Marsh

Taylor Marsh

Taylor is a political commentator and radio personality who has been interviewed by C-SPAN's Washington Journal and all across TV and right-wing radio. She's been on the web for 10 years, going to blogging in late 2005. Taylor is affiliated with The Patriot Project, writes for Huffington Post, as well as Alternet. Her radio show debuted in 2002, which she now brings to her blog Mon-Thur, 6:00 p.m. Eastern or 3:00 p.m. Pacific. One of her passions is painting and creating political art. The graphic at the top of her blog is taken from the expressionist flag art that hangs in her home. She was born in Missouri, and has lived in New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas and some points in between.

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