The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

FAIR Reports Supposed Surprise Study Results Regarding Minority Guest On Cable News

FAIR Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting conducted a study  recently published a five week study of the extent to which  prime-time evening cable TV news shows (of alleged news shows) programmers booked diverse guests. The results are a bit surprising on one hand, but with a bit of thought not at all surprising on the other hand. 

A few words about the study. If you are chopping at the bits to get to the study, skip to FAIR below. Come back and read our thoughts regarding FAIR's piece

For progressives, MSNBC did not fare as well as we would expect. In fairness, Chris Hayes' ALL-in was first in booking non-white guests. But, there are issues with the study regarding the study criteria and scope.

My review of the study led to one major observation. While Hart and company span well beyond the prime-time shows of MSNBC, Fox News and CNN, I read a bit of a "gotcha" when the author compared Rachel Maddow's guest list with that of Fox New and CNN hosts (during the same time period). An interesting focal point of those who conducted the study and published its findings. 
"Oh lookit.. the alleged prime-time progressive news network has fewer people of color on set for guest interviews."  
While we note a peculiar reporting, we give credit for the revelation and comment related to Chris Hayes's guest list and his reported commitment to diversifying his guest.  (admirable to say the least). 

We at the TPI do not dispute the study findings.  We do question a couple of details regarding "apple-to-apple" opportunity for an accurate depiction of reality. First, Maddow's show seems to develop broadcast segments without the "panel" or guest model employed by both Fox's O'Reilly and CNN's Cooper. Maddow has a staff and research team that when coupled with backroom staff of other MSNBC evening show hosts runs rings around bank of news shows on Fox or CNN.  Her show simply lends less to host in chairs and does O'Reilly's show. And even more poignant reality is, while O'Reilly might show better than Maddow regarding non-white guests, think for a minute about how O'Reilly's non-white guest support his show. He is the "King of Bereting" guest vs. actually involving guest in meaningful dialogue.  Example:

Of course, Dr. Hill's appearance on the The Factor well pre-dates the study. We offered the clip as an example of how O'Reilly uses his guest to feed his viewer base.  What is the point of booking non-white guest when the host conducts the interviewer from a lofty and elitist perspective accompanied by what appears as pre-determined message for viewers. The snipe at the highly educated and accomplished Dr. Hill as "looking like a drug dealer" was so obviously scripted to roll from O'Reilly's face.

As prime-time cable news shows fare, The Factor consistently garners large Nielsen viewer numbers. Nielsen ratings speak to the sadness of so many in our nation spend an hour of their lives on a daily basis listening and watching such a pompous and bloviating host. A host who has verged on broadcast material and comment that rivals Rush Limbaugh.

The FAIR article is posted below in its entirety.  While, the piece has a comments section with a few related comments, we have taken a few of those comments and posted just below (before the piece). 

Excerpt comments
As a daily viewer of The Rachel Maddow Show and other MSNBC evening show hosts, I must agree with Clark (above).  Why didn't Hart and FAIR undertake a full review of the three networks with equal (non headline grabbing) non-white guests data?  Alas, why not report on which network more non-white shows hosts.  A much more relevant and critical review would be a backroom study with a focus on gender, sexual orientation and race.  

If you are a true progress or liberal, you are now thinking, as am I why not study the racial and gender make-up of cable network management and show producers. The results will probably show a major lack of diversity at the level of decision-makers and sharpers of our news.

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Who Gets to Speak on Cable News?

The identity of the whitest, malest show we found may surprise you

All In With Chris hayesAll In With Chris Hayes had the most ethnically diverse guestlist we found on cable news.
A survey of major cable news discussion programs shows a stunning lack of diversity among the guests.
FAIR surveyed five weeks of broadcasts of the interview/discussion segments on several leading one-hour cable shows: CNN's Anderson Cooper 360° and OutFront With Erin Burnett, All In With Chris Hayes and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor and Hannity.

More after the break below
Guests were coded by gender, race/ethnicity and occupation, as well as the affiliations of partisan guests-those who are identified with a party as current or former government officials or campaign professionals.
Data was collected during the first two weeks of February, the first week of March and the first two weeks of April. (Fewer weeks were monitored in March to limit the distorting effects of the singular focus on the missing Malaysian plane story.) Guests who appeared in interview or roundtable segments were the only appearances that were included; taped segments, which normally include a correspondent and soundbites from various guests, were excluded.
In total, there were 1,015 guests in the five-week period. Maddow was an outlier with only 49 guests during the study period; the other shows ranged from All In with 164 to AC360 and OutFront, both with 212.
Among guests with a partisan affiliation, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 104 to 84. That is almost entirely due to the lopsided nature of partisan-identified guests on MSNBCAll In With Chris Hayes had a 35-7 advantage for Democrats, while Rachel Maddow had 12 Democrats to two Republicans.
Fox News Channel, as you might expect, featured more Republicans than Democrats, but the GOP enjoyed a more modest advantage: 24-15 on theO'Reilly Factor and 29-21 on Hannity. Many of the Democrats appearing on Fox News are what one might call "Fox News Democrats" (Extra!3/12), people like Kirsten Powers, Bob Beckel and Lanny Davis, who often represent a center-right faction of the party and are called on to bash more progressive Democrats.
The largest category of guests were other members of the media: 55 percent of the guests were either journalists (400) or pundits (159). Current and former government officials were the next largest category, accounting for almost 10 percent of guests (107). There were 37 military guests (current and former), 35 representatives of think tanks and 32 academics. Other prominent guest categories were lawyers (21) and business representatives (17).
Some patterns were a function of the study period. Fifteen guests were affiliated with the Bundy ranch standoff, when a conservative rancher decided to protest having to pay to graze his cattle on federal land. All of those guests appeared on the Hannity show. CNN’s obsessive coverage of the disappeared Malaysian airplane was evident in their programming in March, which featured pilots, aviation experts and scientists who would normally not appear on cable chat shows.
Eighty-four percent of guests were white (848). The most and least diverse shows in terms of ethnicity were both on MSNBC: People of color were 27 percent of guests on All In and only 6 percent on Maddow. Just three ofMaddow’s guests were people of color; none of these were women.
Hayes' previous show, the weekend Up With Chris Hayes, had been credited for presenting more diverse discussions than other programs, particularly the Sunday morning chat shows (Media Matters3/14/13). Hayes explained (CJR.org3/28/13) that it was simply a matter of monitoring the show's guest list: "A general rule is if there are four people sitting at table, only two of them can be white men."
The Fox News shows were also mostly white, with people of color constituting 10 percent of the guests on O'Reilly and 15 percent on Hannity. On CNN,AC360's guest list was 14 percent people of color, and OutFront (19 percent) was slightly better.
Media diversity demographics
People of color constitute about 36 percent of the US population. On All In, the show that came closest to parity, there were 76 percent as many people of color as there would have been if the sources had matched the nation’s demographics. By comparison, people of color appeared 53 percent as much as their demographic proportion on OutFront, 39 percent on AC360, 42 percent on Hannity and 29 percent on O’Reilly. On Maddow, people of color were represented just 17 percent as often as they occur in the general public.
Latinos—who make up 16 percent of the US population—were particularly underrepresented on cable, with only 31 appearances (3 percent of sources) in the study. Eight of these appearances, more than a quarter of the total, were byCNN contributor Sunny Hostin on AC360; only four other Latino women appeared across all six shows. The diversity of Latino voices was even further diminished on Fox, where five of the seven Latino guest appearances were made by Fox personality Geraldo Rivera.
Male guests widely outnumbered women on every show (730 to 285), making up 72 percent of the guest lists. Just 5 percent (46) of cable news guests were women of color.
Read more after the break below
The show closest to gender parity was the O’Reilly Factor, where women were 36 percent of guests, followed by Hannity, also on Fox, with 35 percent women. However, all but one of O’Reilly’s female guests were white; Hannity had only four women of color on his show. This pattern is related to the phenomenon of the “Fox News blonde,” the young, attractive female guests who are regulars on both shows; they’re not actually all blonde, but they are almost uniformly white  (SteveDennie.com1/26/12).
CNN's Erin Burnett had the most male-dominated guest list, with only 19 percent female guests. All In was 28 percent female, while Maddow andAC360's guests were both 25 percent women.
With women making up about 51 percent of the US population, they got 72 percent of their demographic share on the O'Reilly Factor, 69 percent onHannity, 55 percent on All In, 48 percent on both Maddow and AC360, and only 37 percent on OutFront.
Women of color (about 18 percent of the US public) were strikingly underrepresented on most shows, getting 34 percent of their demographic share on AC360, 26 percent on OutFront, 11 percent on Hannity and 3 percent on the O'Reilly FactorMaddow, again, had no women of color as guests during the study period. All In came closest to parity, with women of color at 60 percent of their demographic share.
Non-Latino white men, on the other hand, were overrepresented on every show. The Fox News shows had the least overrepresentation, with white men appearing 162 percent as much as they do in the general public on Hannity, and 167 percent on the O'Reilly Factor. Next came All In, where white men had 175 percent of their proportion of the public. White men appeared a little more than twice as often as their demographic share on Out Front (209 percent), AC360 (210 percent) and Maddow (213 percent).
Research assistance by Sara Qureshi and Aldo Guerrero.

Demographic Representation on Cable News


Alternative Media: How Alternative Is It?

FAIR thought it would be interesting to contrast the elite dominance of these cable shows with an independent outlet: Democracy Now!, the daily TV/radio broadcast heard on hundreds of affiliate stations. The structure of the show is in some respects very similar to cable news programming, with long-form interviews, debates and panel discussions. But the show is perhaps best known for featuring experts and analysis that are rarely heard in the corporate media.
Democracy Now
So how did Democracy Now!stack up against corporate-owned cable news? The show interviewed only two former or current government officials, and featured far more guests who were activists—27 percent. The most common category of guests, as on cable, was journalists, but many of these were drawn from independent/alternative media, a type of reporter seldom seen on cable news.
The guest list during the study period was 79 percent white—66 of the 84 guests—better than the cable average, but still bested by All In. Latinos were 8 percent of the guests (seven appearances), African-Americans 6 percent (five guests). Overall, people of color were represented 67 percent as much as they appear in the general public.
Women were 40 percent of the show's guests, making DN! closer to parity than any of the cable shows studied. This was 79 percent of their proportion of the public.
White men were overrepresented on Democracy Now!, but at a lower rate—148 percent of their demographic share—than on any of the cable news shows we looked at. Women of color were underrepresented, appearing 53 percent as often as their proportion of the public—more than most of the cable shows, but behind All In.
We also looked at the diversity of the guestlist on FAIR's CounterSpin radio program. Because it's a weekly show with usually only two guests per episode, we looked at a longer time frame: the first five months of 2014, during which the show featured 41 guests.
CounterSpin's 20 female guests gave it 95 percent parity with women in the general public, and the 14 people of color interviewed represented 93 percent of their demographic share. Women of color, with six guests, were 86 percent of demographic parity. The 13 white men the show featured exactly matched the white male proportion of the population. -P.H.

There is something about the FAIR study and reporting that will probably draw a response from MSNBC.

As with any poll, survey or study my first thoughts are "why" (motive for the study), "who" (who paid for the research) and "how" are results reported. And, as stated above, is the basic premise of the study addressed with relevant peripheral considerations? Just to make the last point clear. The Maddow show doesn't appear to have a broadcast model with guests and panels as a major focus. On the other side of Hart's comparisons, O'Reilly's show is structured as such. For me, there is a basic difference beyond liberalism and conservatism. I see a clear difference in research based deliver of news related information and a contrasting development team focuses on exciting an audience against a political point of view (with heavy anti-Obama messaging).

Wonder if it would be worthwhile to study how O'Reilly interacts with his guest. Maybe, a study of assertions with perfunctory questions to facilitate O'Reilly finger-pointing and opportunity to raise his voice, with tensed-up torso glaring eyes and "I find that disappointing" verbiage he so often uses.

Final point. I read in the FAIR bios Hart has appeared on O'Reilly's The Factor (not on MSNBC) and Hart has published a book about O'Reilly's The Factor.

Well now, the "WHY" has completely clouded my thoughts on the FAIR Study.

No comments :

Post a Comment