White in America: White Males Dominate Evening Cable

No, you’re not just imagining it when it seems to you that white males dominate evening cable. It’s a fact.

A study done by Media Matters for America found that although white men make up only 32 percent of the US population, they made up 57 percent of the guests on prime-time cable news shows during May 2008.

This and other findings are noted in the report Gender And Ethnic Diversity in Prime-Time Cable News – July 2008. The report is based on a review of cable weekday television evening shows (8PM through 11PM on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC) that was done in May 2008. The study included shows such as CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and Larry King Live, Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes, and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Among the study’s observations:

• Fox News was the whitest network, with 88 percent white guests. CNN and MSNBC were close behind, with both featuring 83 percent white guests. (Whites are 66 percent of the US population.)

• MSNBC showed the greatest gender imbalance, with 70 percent of its guests being male. CNN and Fox News were not far behind; each of those networks featured 65 percent male guests.

• Latinos were particularly underrepresented. Though they now comprise 15 percent of the American population, they made up only 2.7 percent of cable news guests. The worst of the three networks on this score was MSNBC, which featured only six Latino guests out of 460 prime-time appearances during the entire month.

• A number of ethnic groups were shut out entirely, or nearly so, on some networks. During the month of May, Fox News and MSNBC each featured a single Asian-American guest. Across the three cable networks, there were only four appearances by guests of Middle Eastern descent, two on Fox and two on CNN. There was not a single appearance by a Native American during the entire month.

Also of note: African Americans made up 16 percent of the guests on MSNBC, 11 percent of guests on CNN, and 9 percent of guests on Fox News. African Americans are 13 percent of the US population.

The findings are summed up in the following chart, which compares ethnicity in the US population versus the ethnicity of cable TV guests:

Media Matters for America describes itself as a “Web-based, not-for-profit, progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” Kudos to them for this informative report.


Nutcracker Suite

“(Barack Obama is) talking down to black people… I want to cut his nuts off.”
– Jesse Jackson, caught unaware by an open mic on Fox News, this month.

“Well, you know what, then I truly believe that that is going to take an individual that has testicular fortitude, that’s exactly right, that’s what we got to have.”
– Paul Gibson, president of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union, talking about why he supports Hillary Clinton for president, in April.

“With 90+ percent of black Americans voting Democrat regardless of who the candidate is, it will be bad enough as it is. But I, for one, expect you, black conservative Republican men to have enough balls to stand on principle, not on your emotions. You’ve shown your testicular fortitude by being publicly conservative against a tide of Identity Politics. Don’t start behaving like castrati now.”
– Black conservative blogger Juliette Akinyi Ochieng, challenging the manhood of black conservative males who are thinking of voting for Barack Obama, in June.

“Girl please, you couldn’t even carry my bra.”
– Detroit Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, at a Democratic candidate’s debate, responding to primary opponent Mary Waters’ comment about procuring federal funds for their district, this month.

The Measure of America: Economic Factoids

From the site Measure of America:

• The richest 20 percent of all U.S. households earned more than half of the nation’s total income in 2006.

• The top 1 percent of U.S. households possesses a full third of America’s wealth.

• Households in the top 10 percent of the income distribution hold more than 71 percent of the country’s wealth, while those in the lowest 60 percent possess just 4 percent.

• Nearly one in five American children lives in poverty, with more than one in thirteen living in extreme poverty.

• The poverty line for a family of four (two adults and two children) is an income of $21,027 before taxes; in 2006, more than 36 million Americans were classified poor by this definition.

• In every racial/ethnic group, men earn more than their female counterparts.

• In 1980, the average executive earned forty-two times as much as the average factory worker; today, executives earn some four hundred times what factory workers in their industries earn.

• In 2004, median net worth was $140,800 for whites, and $24,900 for nonwhites.

• The real value of the minimum wage has decreased by 40 percent in the past forty years.

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Political Miscellany @ 7/28/08

The New York Times is reporting a split in the Congressional Black Caucus over legislation that bans certain types of cigarettes.

Right now, tobacco is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This means the FDA has limited authority to control the content and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. A bill in Congress would provide that authority, but some compromises have been made on this. One such compromise is that although the bill bans flavored cigarettes, menthol cigarettes are exempted from the ban. As noted in the Times article

…the menthol exemption was seen as a necessary compromise to win broad backing for the legislation… the legislation in its current form, with the menthol exemption, has broad support in the House. It also has the backing of many health groups, as well as the nation’s biggest cigarette company, Philip Morris USA, whose support is considered crucial for passage. The company makes Marlboro Menthol, the second-biggest menthol brand.

But menthol has become a politically charged subject in Washington because an estimated 75 percent of black smokers choose mentholated brands. Scientists have long wondered whether menthol might play a role in the disproportionate share of smoking-related cancer among African-Americans…

Caucus Chair Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick says… (CBC) members… are deeply divided on the subject. “The caucus is split,” she said. “We do want to see menthol regulated, but we’re convinced that eliminating or prohibiting menthol would be a killer for the bill.”

Philip Morris over the years has been one of the biggest contributors to the caucus’s nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. That financial support, in some years exceeding $250,000, and lesser amounts at times from other cigarette makers, has been the reason some critics perceived an alliance between big tobacco and African-American members of Congress, some of whom were willing to help fend off antitobacco efforts.

Meanwhile, The Hill has a story about CBC members in potentially tough primary races who are hoping to get Barack Obama’s endorsement. Congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn, NY is in trouble for supporting Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and it appears voters are becoming discontented with him. Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick has been tainted by a scandal involving her son, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is the mayor of Detroit. William Jefferson, the congressman from New Orleans, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.
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Thoughts on CNN’s “Black in America,” Parts 1 and 2

After an unsatisfying Part 1, CNN’s “Black in America” Part 2, did live up to the hype. I found several portions of the show compelling to watch.

What was wrong with Part 1? It wasn’t “bad.” I just found it bland and uninformative. It was like a series of reports that you might see from a high-end local television station. It was well done, but they covered a lot of ground (the black family and the black woman), and it seemed like they didn’t dig deep enough into any one subject. The show didn’t shed any light on hidden or neglected facts, it didn’t offer any unique insights or perspectives, and it didn’t uncover any previously ignored inconvenient truths.

I don’t think audiences, black audiences in particular, learned anything new in Part 1. Absent being informative, I would have settled for something that struck a poignant or inspirational cord, for example. But I was neither informed nor moved by Part 1.

But Part 2 did strike a cord with me. The difference between the two parts was that Part 2 focused on people whose lives showed the breadth and complexity of the black experience. Instead of focusing on issues, they let the lives of these men tell the story. And those stories were great to watch.

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Quick Thoughts on CNN’s “Black in America,” Part 1

Some quick thoughts on Black in America, Part 1. This is the first of a two part series from CNN on the current state of African Americans.

The show was been interesting, and I admire that it’s well researched and free of stereotypes.

But for me… I don’t feel like I learned anything I didn’t already know.

The show talked about the growing black middle class… the large number of single-mother headed families… black health care disparities… etc… etc…

For blacks folks who are well informed, or just have eyes to see what’s happening around them, this show doesn’t break any new ground. It seems like the scope of the piece was so comprehensive that it wasn’t able to go into extraordinary depth about any of particular issue. That may have been more useful.

The only real “eye-opener” in the show for me was where it discussed the high rate of HIV in the black community, especially among black women. They could easily have devoted an entire show to that subject.

Of course, the show wasn’t meant just for me or black folks. Maybe it’s an eye-opener for the white community. Maybe.

Still, I do look forward to Part 2 on Black men. Perhaps that is where the fireworks will start.

Daisy Bates: The Art of the Dignified Response

So many heroes, so little time.

Thousands of people, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of people, were part of the Civil Rights Movement. Some, like Martin Luther King, Jr., have a national holiday to honor their memory. Some are folks whose heroism has been lost to time. But they should all be cited and celebrated as often as possible.

That’s why it’s been a joy for me to read DAISY BATES: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas, by Grif Stockley. Who was Daisy Bates? Consider this description of her from the book:

As a college-educated white Arkansan remembered in 2002, “Daisy Bates was our Osama Bin Ladin.” As outrageous and grimly ludicrous as this comparison is, it captures the emotions of the white community at the time.

And what did Bates do that made her comparable to a mass-murdering terrorist? She wanted to make it possible for black children and white children to go to school together in the 1950s. Such was the insanity of her times.

Daisy Bates, Arkansas Civil Rights Activist

Bates’s main notoriety is from her role as the “advisor” to the Little Rock Nine. A history of Bates is here and here; there are many others on the Internet. But I want to share a passage from the book by Stockley that tells a great story.

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