CommunityPam's House Blend

Media Matters report: lack of diversity on cable news continues

Same old, same old. In the wake of the Imus “nappy headed ho” debacle, most folks noted that the cable MSM had to scramble to get some color on the air to discuss the matter.

Media Matters has a new report out, Locked Out: The Lack of Gender and Ethnic Diversity on Cable News Continues, that shows how pale the MSM is across the board.

To the extent these cable programs included a more diverse guest lineup during the Imus controversy, why do they provide such diversity only when issues of race are in the news cycle? Do cable-news producers view the guests added to the lineup during the Imus controversy as qualified to talk only about issues of race, and not other issues of national and political significance?

Well, yes. It’s apparent that news producers do, and Media Matters crunched the numbers, examining the race/ethnicity and gender of the hosts and guests on the major prime-time cable-news programs on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC in the time period before, during and after the Imus dustup.

Take a look at the eye-opening stats after the jump.The shows included in the analysis are:

  * CNN’s The Situation Room
  * CNN’s Paula Zahn Now
  * CNN’s Larry King Live
  * Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor
  * Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes
  * MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews
  * MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann
  * MSNBC’s Scarborough Country

Media Matters found that there are 35 hosts and co-hosts of cable-news programs during the prime hours — all 35 are white, and 29 of the 35 are male. Regarding guests during the Imus controversy, all three major cable news nets brought on substantially more black guests, but went back to the pale males once the story had run its course.

And look at gender — it’s not Faux News hanging out there all by itself.

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’ 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.

And if you’re talking about Hispanics or Latinos (roughly 14% of the population), the stats are even worse — 2% of guests during the time period represented that group.

The bottom line, and a question for the nets is why are their guest lists are overwhelmingly white and male when the topic at hand doesn’t have to do with race or gender. A good guess is that those producers and decisionmakers belong to groups representative of those they book (and the hosts of those shows) — it’s about clubbiness and lack of an ability to think outside the box.

The full PDF of the report is here.

Previous post

Plan B Success Story

Next post

Shorter Karen Hewitt: Foggo and Wilkes Are BFFs

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding