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.

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2 thoughts on “White in America: White Males Dominate Evening Cable

  1. I was at the Unity (journalists of color) conference last week in Chicago and much hay was made about how few sources & guests of color make it to prime time. After this Media Matters investigation, we shouldn’t be surprised. The anchors and hosts tend to bring on guests with which they’re most comfortable.

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