Six of the seven shows analyzed — This Week, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press, State of the Union, and Up — have hosted white men at a significantly higher rate than their 31 percent portion of the population. Melissa Harris-Perry provided the greatest diversity among guests, providing a much higher rate of white women and African-American guests than the other programs; Up also hosted a higher percentage of people from those demographics than CNN or the broadcast programs. Latino, Asian-American, and Middle Eastern guests have been largely absent from the Sunday shows. Native Americans fared even worse, with only two appearances (one on Melissa Harris-Perry and one on Up) out of a total of 2,436 appearances over the nine-month period studied.
White Men Were An Even Larger Proportion Of Solo Interviews. On the broadcast Sunday shows and CNN, white men were most often hosted for one-on-one interviews by a significant margin. 75 percent of Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday solo interview subjects were white men. Once again, only Melissa Harris-Perry demonstrated any reasonable diversity in this measure. Guests who were Latino, Asian-American, or Middle Eastern were hardly present at all. No Native American has received a one-on-one interview this year. Up did not have enough solo interviews in the period studied to be included in the comparison.
Media Matters for America, Once Again, Sunday Morning Talk Shows Are White, Male, And Conservative.
Read through for CNN’s gender problem and the overall ideological tilt toward conservative (read: Republican) guests.
Beating up on [cable news’] excesses is like riding down the hill after a bloody battle and shooting the wounded.
David Carr, New York Times. Parodying Cable News With a Talk About Race.
On Tuesday night on MSNBC’s “All In,” Chris Hayes had a very direct conversation about race with the Gawker writer Cord Jefferson. Prompted by a news report of a group of young people in Huntington Beach, Calif., who looted and vandalized property, the pair lamented the lack of community leadership and suggested that acting out in that manner was a learned behavior.
It was a joke. Actually, there were two beats to the joke. The young people they were talking about were white. And the whole discussion was a put-on, a satire meant to show how lame the hoary race tropes of cable news have become.
As a comedy bit, it was very well done. Both men were straight-faced and earnest. Mr. Hayes, tapping his inner Bill O’Reilly, did a fine job of bloviating his way through an introduction heavy with outrage: “The story of the white criminal culture is not a story the mainstream media will tell you. But once you scratch the surface, these stories are everywhere you look.”
If you haven’t seen the segment, it’s well worth the five minutes to watch typical cable news tropes turned on their head.
Carr’s analysis of the segment hits the usual notes: cable’s inability (or unwillingness) to present nuance, and its manufactured outrage as it fills a 24 hour news hole. But he also discusses the very real effect of a (mostly younger) audience used to the news as presented by The Daily Show and Colbert Report, writing, “MSNBC was temporarily acting as a kind of self-cleaning oven, parodying the excesses of cable from a very near distance.”
For his part, Hayes tells Carr, “The biggest challenge is to find a way to surprise viewers and subvert expectations. The format is in need of evolution.”
The commercial success of both MSNBC and Fox News is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic…
…And so, among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone.