MEDIA

Surprise! Sunday Talk Shows Are Mostly White Dudes

02/11/2015 02:20 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2015
NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

This shouldn’t surprise anyone: the vast majority of guests appearing on the five big Sunday shows are white men.

Liberal watchdog Media Matters released a report Wednesday showing that an average of 61 percent of guests on ABC News' "This Week," CBS News' "Face the Nation," Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," NBC News' "Meet the Press," and CNN's "State of the Union" in 2014 were white men.

At 67 percent, "Face the Nation" recorded the highest proportion of white, male guests; "Fox News Sunday," "Meet the Press," "This Week," and "State of the Union" all followed closely behind with 65 percent, 59 percent, 59 percent, and 55 percent, respectively. The numbers show little progress from 2013, when “Meet the Press” led the way with 69 percent of its guests being white men.

White men were also heavily favored as subjects of the shows' coveted one-on-one interviews, where a guest's views and opinions are not challenged by other panelists. Again, "Face the Nation" -- as well as "MTP" -- was the biggest offender, with white men receiving 75 percent of its solo interview slots. Additionally, a large percentage of white male guests were either ideologically neutral or conservative. Progressive white men made up only 14 percent of all Sunday show guests.

Citing Census data, Media Matters reports that white women were "underrepresented" on all five programs and that "African-American women, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Middle Eastern guests were hosted extremely infrequently."

media matters graph 1

While not considered part of the five main Sunday morning shows, Media Matters also looked at MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki" and "Melissa Harris-Perry." The study showed that "Melissa Harris-Perry" offered viewers "by far the most ethnic and gender diversity among its guests," and was the only program to feature guests of color in "greater proportion to both white guests and to their representation in the general population."

Angelo Carusone, executive vice president of Media Matters, says part of the problem is that the five larger Sunday morning shows are stuck in their ways, relying on old formulas that have worked in the past.

"I think in part it's inertia -- that you have a daily operation," Carusone said in an interview with The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "We all know what the news cycle is like. You kind of have this momentum, process, and keep replicating it. In part it’s because the players haven’t really changed very much either."

Still, as the U.S. becomes more and more diverse, it becomes increasingly important to give different races, cultures and genders a louder voice.

"The purpose of these Sunday shows is to provide information," Carusone said. "So if you’re narrowing the band and scope and range of conversation around a topic, that is needlessly limiting."

"The other part is to understand we live in a multicultural society and demographics are changing quickly," he added. "It benefits all of us, as well as our policy apparatus, to have individuals who come from different experiences commenting."

Gabriel Arana contributed reporting.

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