CREDIT: AP Photo/NBC, William B. Plowman
The Sunday political talk shows have drawn repeated criticism for filling their lineups with disproportionately white, male guests. But if this week’s lineup is any indication, the shows aren’t working too hard to fix the disparity.
Between CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC this Sunday, there were no women or people of color featured as the main, solo interviews of the show. Even in the roundtable discussions that follow the featured interviews, the participants were unrepresentative: Eight women joined the roundtables, while 15 men were part of the conversation.
Of the 38 total guests between the one-on-one interviews and the roundtables, there were five people of color. None of the shows had on more than two women, or more than two non-white guests.
The lack of diversity is simultaneously most and least surprising on a week in which foreign policy has dominated the news cycle. All of the shows featured discussion of the ongoing unrest in Iraq. And while international news may seem like an area ripe for diverse perspectives, the U.S. foreign policy establishment is overwhelmingly male.
On gender, NBC’s “Meet The Press” was the worst offender this week. Its lineup featured only one woman — Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, who joined the political roundtable — while 10 men came on as guests. And when it comes to race, “Fox News Sunday” took the award for least diverse; none of its guests were not white.
Part of the problem is systemic. These Sunday shows seek to have on the key decision-makers who influence policy inside the beltway, and those people are largely white, male, and not reflective of the demographics of the country.
But it’s not impossible to seek out and feature people of color and women who also hold an important place in policy debates. Two alternative Sunday shows on MSNBC — “Up With Steve Kornacki” and the “Melissa Harris Perry Show” — regularly feature diverse guests and panel discussions. This week, for example, Melissa Harris Perry’s show had 10 guests, 4 of whom were women and 5 of whom were people of color. It was also the only show to feature an Iraq war veteran.