Is It Still All About the White Men?

David Broder

David Broder, a "dean of American commentary." Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images

"Pundits talked a lot about gender and racial progress during the campaign, of course, but the elite opinion media continues to employ, groom and promote a commentators corps that is disproportionately white and male."

That's Nation correspondent Ari Melber blogging about what he calls "White Male Pundit Power." Melber came into the studio this morning to talk about the lack of women and minority commentators on the Sunday morning talk shows and in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and Washington Post.

Ari: The political commentariat lags behind the political community, lags behind the United States.

Mike Pesca: Why do you think that is?

Ari: Number one, people book the same old faces, especially on television; you have this idea that David Broder and David Gergen are the deans of political commentary. And with all due respect to their experience, they are at a very advanced stage in their career, they have been doing this for 40 years, if you go back to them, then that's a very closed circuit. And if you are leaning on people who succeeded 40 years ago, then yeah, you are going to have an overwhelmingly white male set of folks because you are going back to a different time in history. It's a sort of casual grandfather clause.

Number two, and this is something people don't like to talk about, there is ideological discrimination. And that is why, I point out in this Urban League study, there were only two black women besides Condi Rice who were ever on the Sunday shows over an 18-month period. It's not only because they are African-Americans and they are women but also because the majority of those commentators are liberal and liberals get far less opportunities on the Sunday shows.

Listen to Mike and Ari get into it here and join the discussion in the comments below



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But isn't television reporting different from other media where reporters are more hidden? Those chosen for viewing are those who pass the focus group tests across multiple demographics, those whose faces the general public trusts. The old white male is a standard. I'd welcome more females and minorites on Sunday mornings, but I'm not sure the ratings would.

Sent by Jeff | 1:01 PM | 6-11-2008

Back in 1989, when I was trying to get started in journalism, I had a job interview for an entry-level position at what was then the MacNeil-Lehrer Show on PBS.

The last question the interviewer asked me (she was one of the higher-up producers, as I recall) was what I would change about the show if I could change anything. I said I would like to see more people who were not white men talking about the policy issues of the day.

I didn't get the job.

Sent by Sarah Goodyear | 1:28 PM | 6-11-2008

A few new faces that appear and then disappear frequently on the Sunday talkshows, like Andrew Sullivan, Maureen Dowd, provide refreshing insights to an endless stream of superficial blather and rant on all the networks, Fox included. Public TV has McLaughlin Group that, for the small bit of insight it uncovers, leads them all for explosive ranting that wastes everyone's time.

Sent by Sulla Felix | 3:00 PM | 6-11-2008

Blogs have rendered the talking heads irrelevant for the most part. Yes, some older generations look to them as the "voice of reason," but I look at them as a counter-weight to reality.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 3:24 PM | 6-11-2008

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