White men dominate guest appearances on five big Sunday TV news shows in 2020

Women significantly underrepresented at 32% of all guest appearances

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More than two-thirds of the guests on five prominent Sunday morning TV news shows in 2020 were men, and most of those guests were white men, according to a new report on gender and race representation released by the Women’s Media Center.

A yearlong review by WMC of five of the nation’s most influential Sunday morning shows revealed that 68% of all 1,671 guest appearances were by men in 2020 compared to 32% by women, although women make up nearly 51% of the nation. White men — who comprise 30% of the country — made up 53% of all appearances. Women of color, 20% of the U.S. population, represented less than 13% of all guest appearances.

Of the 258 episodes analyzed, not a single regular or substitute host was a person of color.

The report, “WMC Report: Gender and Race Representation on Five Big Sunday Shows January 1 – December 31, 2020,” examined the guests on NBC’s "Meet the Press," CBS’s "Face the Nation," ABC’s "This Week," Fox News Channel’s "Fox News Sunday," and CNN’s "State of the Union." It also analyzed coverage of three of the biggest issues of the year: The COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election and George Floyd’s murder and racial justice protests.

“The major Sunday news shows set the tone for news coverage on all media platforms. The stories covered and the experts and opinion leaders featured tell us who has power — who and what the shapers of media think we should care about. These programs have a platform that can impact policy, politics, and action,” according to Julie Burton, president and CEO of the Women’s Media Center.

“We found that at this pivotal moment, just as movements for racial and gender justice are pushing powerfully and visibly for change, inclusion of women and people of color came up short on these influential marquee shows. With white men dominating these major Sunday news shows, it is white male perspectives that shape the culture by telling us who we are, what our roles in society are, and what we can be,” Burton said. “This marginalizes women and people of color. It also results in the news media missing major stories and an expanded audience. Both the industry and the public are ill-served by the underrepresentation of women and people of color.”

“The gender and race of guests on these influential Sunday political shows do not reflect America’s rich diversity; consequently the social and political realities and vital viewpoints of women, and especially women of color, are often missing, essentially absent from the conversation,” said Janet Dewart Bell, WMC board chair. “We at the Women’s Media Center challenge those with power on those shows to do a better job and bring more voices into the conversation. Doing so adds authenticity and robustness to the discussion of issues that affect us all.”

On all but one show, white men comprised half or more of the guest appearances. CBS’s "Face the Nation" had the most glaringly disproportionate misrepresentation, with white males accounting for 63% of all guest appearances.

“Political shows that reflect our nation’s racial, ethnic and gender diversity are intrinsic to creating a credible media and to the nation’s democracy,” said WMC Co-Founder Gloria Steinem.“ This Women’s Media Center report highlights how American viewers are being deprived of a full range of facts and the perspectives and experiences of women, especially Ingenious, Asian and Latino women.”

Across all five Sunday shows, guests discussing the 2020 presidential election were predominately white and male. White people comprised 74% of all guest appearances; men made up 61% of guest appearances, and white men were 49%.

“Almost half of the guest appearances discussing the 2020 presidential election were by white men,” said Rebecca Adamson, WMC board member. “Latinas were barely seen, despite being crucially significant in many of the battleground states. This Women’s Media Center report illuminates a lost opportunity and the work needed to move toward a more inclusive democracy.”

Other report highlights:

  • White women, 30% of the population, made 20% of the guest appearances.
  • Latinx women, 9% of the population, accounted for only 2% of all guest appearances.
  • Black women, 7% of the U.S. population, were 9% of the guest appearances.
  • Asian American women, 3% of the population, made 0.6% of guest appearances. Half of those 10 appearances were by one person.
  • Only one woman of Middle Eastern/North African descent appeared on the shows.
  • No Indigenous woman was a guest. Only one Indigenous man was a guest.
  • More than three-quarters (76%) of all guest appearances on the topic of COVID-19 were by white people, despite statistics that show the pandemic has disproportionately affected Black, brown and Indigenous communities. A majority (58%) of these guest appearances were by white men.
  • White men (31%) were the most frequent guests discussing George Floyd’s murder and racial justice. Black men followed, with 27%, and Black women, with 24% of all guest appearances.
  • Only five of the 258 episodes analyzed mentioned domestic violence (including child abuse) linked to COVID-19, and only 26 of the episodes mentioned any issue linked to domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexual harassment or #MeToo.

For research methodology and to read the full report, click here.

Infographics can be found here.

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