Lack of Diversity on Cable News Continues
Media Matters Report Shows Lack of Gender and Ethnic Diversity Persists on Cable News Despite Imus Controversy
WASHINGTON - May 7 - Media Matters for America today released "Locked Out: The Lack of Gender & Ethnic Diversity on Cable News Continues," a special report documenting the continued lack of gender and racial/ethnic diversity on the major prime-time cable news programs. The weeks surrounding the controversy over Don Imus' bigoted comments regarding the Rutgers University women's basketball team sparked a national debate about the racial divide that persists in this country. Media Matters' new report finds that the prime-time cable news broadcasts have returned to the status quo that prevailed prior to the Imus controversy.
"This report documents the harsh reality that women and people of color know all too well. Their voices are seldom heard on the major cable news programs unless an issue of gender or race arises," said David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters. "The public's airwaves should reflect a diversity of views and personalities that mirrors the great diversity of the American people. These voices add perspective, depth, and value to the quality of our public discourse, whatever the issue at hand. If we've learned anything from what has transpired in the past month, it is that the networks have the power to make this change. But despite promises made, and the dramatic public outcry in the wake of the Imus controversy, the door to our newsrooms still remains locked for too many Americans."
Media Matters examined the three major cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC -- during viewing hours from 7 to 10.p.m., documenting the gender and racial/ethnic makeup of guests during the weeknights before the Imus controversy (Monday, April 2, through Friday, April 6), the weeknights of the Imus controversy (Monday, April 9, through Friday, April 13), and the weeknights following the Imus controversy (Monday, April 23, through Friday, April 27; omitting the week directly following the Imus controversy because it was consumed almost entirely by a single issue, the Virginia Tech shootings, and thus was atypical). The results show that women and people of color were severely underrepresented as guests on these cable networks in the weeks before and after the Imus controversy, although the study found a small increase in racial/ethnic diversity during the controversy.
Despite the attention paid to racial and gender issues by the media and the public in the wake of the Imus controversy, it appears little has been done to address the gross underrepresentation of women and people of color on the cable networks.
* During the week of the Imus controversy, the cable networks brought on a significant number of African-American guests. But both before and after the controversy, members of all minority groups, including African-Americans, were scarcely seen.
* On shows airing between 4 p.m. and midnight on cable news networks CNBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, and Fox News, there are 35 hosts and co-hosts: 29 are men and 6 are women -- and all 35 are white.
* In the three weeks covered by the study, less than 2 percent of the guests on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC were Latino, despite the fact that one out of every seven Americans is Latino. Almost half of that small number of guest appearances by Latinos were by Geraldo Rivera.
* Excluding African-Americans, in the three weeks covered by the study, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and members of other ethnic groups never made up more than 5 percent of the guests on any of the three cable networks, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.
* On none of the networks, in none of the weeks studied, did women comprise half of the guests appearing. In some cases, they represented as little as one-fifth of all guests.