New York Times Notes Pundit Diversity, But Whiffs on the Reason
UPDATE: An original version of this blog post said there were no women anchors working afternoon shows on the three cable TV networks. That was an error; Fox News has several female anchors working in the afternoon and the post has been corrected.
The New York Times had an interesting story yesterday on the diversity of pundits deployed by the TV networks and cable TV channels to discuss this year's historic presidential election.
Penned by Felica Lee, it was an informative and interesting take on a trend which has helped ignite the career of folks like Roland Martin, Amy Holmes and Eugene Robinson, as TV news departments grapple with the reality of a landmark run for the presidency featuring a popular woman and biracial male. (I've even gotten a taste of this, with appearances on CNN, NPR and Fox News over the past year).
Unfortunately, I think it also brushed aside the reason why these outlets have developed such a diverse palette of experts: their field of anchors is amazingly devoid of that same diversity.
Indeed, as cable TV begins to more closely resemble talk radio as the voice of the Angry White Male, you have a list of TV news shows which closely resembles the talk radio universe -- mostly middle-aged white guys with a few women sprinkled in.
I've already noted in a previous post that, with the exception of Campbell Brown and Greta Van Susteren, white males host every program in prime time on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Katie Couric breaks up the testosterone among the evening news anchors, but her ratings are a distant third in a three-person race. And there seems to be little diversity among the press gaggle following the candidates, as well.
Contrast that with the morning shows on network TV and cable, where gender and ethnic diversity are tremendous. It seems apparent, that programmer have concluded that diversity only works in mornings, and they've leveraged a diverse field of reporters and pundits to mask the unrelenting lack of diversity among their highest profile name anchors.
It will be interesting to see, if we eventually inaugurate a President Clinton or Obama, whether the anchor lineups will change, as well. Or, if we welcome a President McCain, whether cable networks will still feel the need to have such a diverse slate of pundits.