News & Politics

Report: Women Are Woefully Under-Represented on Sunday TV Talk Shows

The guest list is dominated by White men

U.S. Senator Rand Paul speaking with Chuck Todd at the Desert Vista Community Center on his Presidential announcement tour in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Flickr user, Gage Skidmore.

A new report released on Tuesday shows that there is disproportionate gender and racial representation on the five top Sunday news shows.

The “WMC Report: Gender and Race Representation on Five Big Sunday Shows,” published by the Women’s Media Center, examined the racial and gender demographics of guest appearances on five major Sunday news shows in 2020. The shows that were researched are ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, FOX’s FOX News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

The report found that 68 percent of the guest appearances on these shows were men, and that more than half of the guests were White men. Despite accounting for nearly 51 percent of the United States population, women made up only 32 percent of guest appearances and White women were 23 percent of the total guests amongst the five shows.

When women of color were invited as guests on these shows, the same few women made multiple guests appearances. For example, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour Yamiche Alcindor and U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings both made nine guest appearances, accounting for nearly 13 percent of all guest appearances by Black women on the shows. Asian American women made up less than one percent of guests appearances, and half of the 10 appearances by Asian American women were made by Nahid Bhadelia, the founding director of Boston University’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research.

Poor racial and gender representation also translate to the hosting of these shows. None of the shows were hosted by a person of color at all last year, and two-thirds of the hosts were White men.

Face the Nation is the only show that is solely hosted by a woman, but the news show had the largest gender gap in guest appearances. Only 17 percent of the guest appearances on this show were by women, and men largely outnumbered women in every racial demographic on the show. This is a stark difference from the other shows where at least 30 percent of the guests were women, and Black women were featured more than Black men.

Though the venerable Sunday shows once held a revered place in political media. And though they’ve often been written off in recent years, the attention to just who is being represented on air suggests they remain relevant in ways their critics haven’t appreciated.

And the attention to representation isn’t just about demographics. Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd received backlash on Sunday for what critics say is an overabundance of conservatives among his guest. The NBC show’s transcript page shows that only 19 different elected Democrats have been featured since January 6, despite Democrats controlling both the House and the Senate. However, Todd has invited the same Republicans to speak on the show multiple times without an elected Democrat to balance the conversation. Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy has appeared on the show four times, which is the most out of any guest in the timeframe, and Maryland governor Larry Hogan has been on the show three times.

 

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Damare Baker
Assistant Editor

Before becoming an assistant editor, Damare Baker started out as an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.