White, Conservative Men Dominate Sunday Morning Political Talk Shows

A study from the media watchdog group Media Matters details a startling lack of diversity, which the group says corrupts public debate and spreads misinformation. 

Meet the Press panel
Meet the Press panel YouTube

Do you think your favorite political Sunday morning talk shows reflect diversity? If so, you may have to reconsider that notion.

A recent Media Matters report analyzing guest appearances on seven network and broadcast programs during the last year shows that white men made up the majority of all guests. Shows examined were ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation With Bob Schieffer, Fox’s Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace, NBC’s Meet the Press With David Gregory, CNN’s State of the Union With Candy Crowley and MSNBC’s UP With Steve Kornacki and Melissa Harris-Perry.

How bad could it be?

Well, bad enough that white men are clearly overrepresented when compared to national percentages of the actual population. White males make up a little more than 30 percent of the total U.S. population. However, on Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday they made up 67 percent of all guests, 62 percent on Meet the Press, 60 percent on This Week, 54 percent on State of the Union and 42 percent on Up With Steve Kornacki. Melissa Harris-Perry came closest to the national average with 29 percent of her guests being white men.

Data for solo interviews average nearly 70 percent for all shows except Melissa Harris-Perry, which was the only program to feature a significant portion of nonwhite guests, veering toward mainly African-Americans. Latino, Asian American and Middle Eastern guests were barely registering, remaining in the single digits for all shows.

According to the media watchdog group, the staggering number of white male guests perpetuates misinformation.

“Excluding MSNBC, in broadcast and CNN over 70 percent of guests were male, and then if you look at ethnicity across the board, over 80 percent of guests were white. Both of those things really jump out at me, clearly not representative of the diversity of experiences and opinions that would be required to have a clearly rounded public debate,” said Angelo Carusone, vice president of Media Matters.

If you look at the breakdown of all the guests, 40 percent of guests were white male and conservatives. They overwhelmingly dominated the conversation, not only excluding individuals of diverse perspective of opinions but also giving false opinions on race and gender. [It is] not just wrong, but destructive.”

“The debate is defined by the people who get to tell their stories, so when we look at 13 white men in a hearing committee we know how narrow a slice of America is represented in these stories. Where are the women?” said Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America president. “Until we have people in the media who look like what America looks like—women, people of color, doctors—we’re not going to get the policies we need, and the ones real Americans support.”

NARAL and other organizations have crafted a letter that they have sent to the shows, encouraging more diversity.