NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, CNN’s State of the Union, and ABC’s This Week are the five major Sunday talk shows that aim to bring “a diverse group of voices” that “reflect the cultural, economic, and political landscape” of the U.S. However, according to a new study published by George Mason University School of Law this month, the Congressional guests featured in 2009 were anything but diverse, failing not only to represent the demographics of the American population but also the diversity of Congress. In fact, according to the study, the congressional voice was disproportionately represented by one type of guest in 2009: “white, male, senior, and Republican”:
“In 2009 the talk shows told us (by their selection of Congressional guests) that the people who matter are disproportionately white, male, senior and Republican — disproportionate not just when compared to the American population overall, but also when compared to the population of Congress itself,” concluded a study published this month in The Green Bag, a quarterly journal supported by the George Mason University School of Law.
The study, of the five network Sunday shows from February to December 2009, found that while 14.6 percent of members of Congress were minorities, just 2.5 percent of the Congressional TV guests were minorities; and that while 16.9 percent of members were female, 13.5 percent of the guests were female.
The study also singled out “the 49 white, male U.S. senators in office six-plus years” who represented 9.2 percent of the Congressional populace, but 61.4 percent of the TV guests.
This Week’s executive producer Ian Cameron explains that “bookings are dictated by the news and newsmakers” and “few of those newsmakers in top leadership positions are women or members of minorities.” In reviewing 2009, he noted that the guests relevant to the most prevalent issues were “white and mostly men.” According to the study, the top guests were Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). The Republican leadership “appeared on these shows a total of 43 times” while Democratic Leadership, including the first female Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), “appeared only 11 times.” And 2010 is shaping up to be more of the same, with McConnell “again leading the pack – appearing 10 times on Sunday shows – a rate even higher than he achieved in 2009.” (HT: Media Decoder)