Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Should the White Male Monopoly of Sunday Morning Talk Shows End, as has the White Male Monopoly of the Presidency?



Yet another white male for Sunday Morning Television?

" Is Chuck Todd getting a weekend show?" That's the question posed by Chris Cilizza in his Washington Post blog column today. As any lawyer knows, the answer to a question posed in the affirmative is usually an affirmative answer, and Chris Cilizza doesn't disappoint, at least in this way. White male Chris Cilizza answers, "We hope so", because white male Chris Cilizza sees no problem with white male Chuck Todd being added to an overhwhelmingly white male Sunday talk show lineup, dominated by white men.

I would pose Cilizza's question differently, as I did many times over the last three years about the presidency of the United States: 'Should the United States elect a 44th consecutive white male president and thereby perpetuate the white male monopoly of the presidency in a nation whose majority is decidedly not white male? The obvious answer was "no", and the answer to Cilizza's question is also "no", for the same reason. Chris Cilizza's suggestion that Sunday need another white man is but one example of a larger phenomenon, pointed out in an article by The Nation, entitled, "White Male Pundit Power":
It's still all about the white men. Hillary Clinton's loss has renewed critiques that American political media is slanted, sexist and dominated by men. While Clinton and Obama broke barriers in the Democratic primary, swiftly dispatching white male Senators with more government experience, [as well as less, I might add] the race was still refereed, scored and narrated by white male commentators, an influential constituency in presidential politics. 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."White Male Pundit Power", TheNation, June 9, 2009.
Take that principal to the talk shows, and Media Matters has reported on the subject:

Not only are the Sunday morning talk shows on the broadcast networks dominated by conservative opinion and commentary, the four programs -- NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday -- feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male.

And the top-rated Sunday show -- Meet the Press -- shows the least diversity of all. The NBC program is the most male and nearly the most white (Face the Nation beats it out by 1 percentage point), and it has the highest proportion of white males to all other guests. Media Matters, 2007.*

That's just the break down of the guests, with three very potent bar graphs to prove the point beyond argument. But, let's talk about the monopoly of the white male hosts: If the question had been, "Are there severral good reasons to deny Chuck Todd a weekend show, then, of course, we could expect to see the question followed by several good reasons. And here's a fundamental one that makes all others superfluous in my opinion: White men as pundit and commentators tend to promote other white men in American society, to the detriment of the female and minority majority of American society, very much as the white minority under apartheid enforced rules and behaviors that benefited them and disadvantaged the majority Black South Africans.

Media Matters points out an excellent example of this phenomenon:
During a panel discussion of the 2008 presidential election on the July 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, syndicated columnist Robert Novakasserted: "Republicans are very pessimistic about 2008. When you talk to them off the record, they don't see how they can win this thing. And then they think for a minute, and only the Democratic Party, with everything in their favor, would say that, 'OK, this is the year either to have a woman or an African-American to break precedent, to do things the country has never done before.' And it gives the Republicans hope." Neither host Tim Russert nor any of Novak's fellow panelists, Bloomberg News Washington managing editor Al Hunt, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, and Democratic strategist Bob Shrum -- all of whom are, like Novak, white men -- commented on or challenged Novak's assertion. As Media Matters for America documented, the four Sunday-morning talk programs on the broadcast networks, Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. Media Matters, July 15, 2007.
Now, some psuedo liberal whitosphere blogger is sure to point out that Chris Olberman is a white male who favors Blacks and women in his commentary. This, to me, is like pointing out that in spite of the 43-term white male monopoly of the presidency, there were some white presidents who did not absolutely oppose minority and women's rights. Yet, merely by being president they were participating in and perpetuating an institution that had been preserved like an "all white male golf club", in which only white men need apply.

And that's the problem with the Sunday Talk shows and most of television commentary and anchorships: their composition is determined by white men and it is assumed, a priori, that any open position will go to a white man, just as it was assumed under apartheid in South Africa that the president would be a white man who ruled over a Black majority.

Is Chris Cilizza exhibiting color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior when he shows enthusiams for white males for Sunday morning without seriously promoting anyone who is NOT a white male for a pundit positiion. Well, if anyone can point out an example of Cilizza supporting a woman or minority for a Sunday morning talk show then that example of his color and gender-associated behavior will give us more information from which to form an idea about his color and gender-associated ideation. For now, it seems to me that, just as it was assumed a priori that Tim Russert would be replaced by a white man, Chris Cilizza assumes that any open space on a Sunday morning talk show should go to someone just like Chris Cilizza: a white man.

It's a matter of self-interest. Most blogggers at the Washington Post are white men and this tendency has the effect of securing Chris Cilizza's career path, at the Washington Post and elsewhere. Look at the list of columnists at TheHill.Com Blog. There are twelve columnists and ten of them are white men, with two white women. Can women and minorities get the attention we need for the fact that we are paid dramatically less in America, when the pundits are overwhelmingly white men who benefit from the pay discrepencies, both when they receive higher pay and when they hire us for less? Poor A.B. Stoddard doesn't even see any advantage (and much disadvantage) in using a first name that would identify her as a woman.

So, Chris Cilizza, the answer to your question is a firm "No". On a Sunday morning talk show lineup already monopolized by white men, there is no reason whatsoever to add another white man to the lineup, and every reason in justice and equality NOT to do so.

*I include the dates of the articles cited to demonstrated how very little has changed, particularly in the ideation and behavior of Chris Cilizza, since these articles were written.

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