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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Is Sunday Morning Talk Show Apartheid Really Gone?

Is "Sunday Morning Apartheid" gone? Is there still a very clear division, an exclusion of blacks to a large degree on Sunday Morning Talk shows? Is America still a nation involved in " Sunday Morning Apartheid" or is Felicia Lee at New York Times right when she wrote, "Like the Candidates, TV’s Political Pundits Show Signs of Diversity?

In 2006, the National Urban League released a report showing how racially segregated the Sunday morning talk shows are. According to their report, more than 60% of all of the broadcasts of the Sunday morning talk shows had no black guests on them at all. And 80% of the roundtables had no black participants.

Now in the NY Times article Felicia Lee notes, The historic and long-running presidential campaigns of Senator Barack ObamaHillary Rodham Clinton have injected issues of race and gender into politics as never before. With campaign coverage center stage on the cable channels, producers and critics are again assessing the diversity among pundits, who talk (and talk) about things like Mr. Obama’s pastor, the Hispanic vote, Iraq and the economy. and Senator

In the article Felicia notes, "Both MSNBC and CNN this election season have given new prominence to a handful of contributing commentators from varied backgrounds and perspectives: blacks, Hispanics and women."


The Many Faces of Political Pundits

Felicia's article also points out, "Whether such moves signal real progress in diversifying the punditocracy or merely reflect the needs of a particular news cycle is the question, some media experts say."

Here are some other key points in the NY Times article:

1. The most prominent positions on television remain overwhelmingly with those who are white and male, and some critics note how striking that non-inclusion can seem during this election year.

2. Whatever progress has been made with contributors and commentators as of late, the cable networks have a long way to go before they look like the American people,” said Karl Frisch, the spokesman for Media Matters for America, a liberal television watchdog group. He added that white men were the hosts of all the major Sunday morning talk shows, the major prime-time cable news programs and — except for Katie Couric, a relative newcomer — the network evening news broadcasts.

3. Diversity is not just good journalism but also good business, Ms. Ciara and others said.

Generally Felicia Lee's article is on point. And you know this African American Political Pundit is in agreement with Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, who points out in the article that cable programs relied more and more on people who can analyze campaign developments, rather than just report them. So television needs more pundits and more kinds of pundits."

AAPP: It's great to see and hear, as the article points out, the 2008 lineup at CNN which also includes Alex Castellanos, a Cuban-born Republican strategist, and Leslie Sanchez, a Mexican-American Republican strategist who has also appeared on Fox News. It's also great to see and hear Donna Brazile, journalist and radio host Roland S. Martin; Amy Holmes, a conservative strategist and a former senior speechwriter for Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, the former Senate majority leader; and Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist, Obama supporter and veteran press spokesman. The other networks are making, let us call it "attempts."

As I read the article I wondered when are the Sunday Morning Talk Shows and other Political Talk Shows going to desegregate and include black political bloggers as pundits on these talk shows? Then I had to be honest with myself, the networks are scared to place black political bloggers on the networks. Why? One word "Fear."

We all know black political and social commentary bloggers like The Field Negro, Electronic Village, Jack & Jill Politics, Pams House Blend, Prometheus 6, The Super Spade, Black Agenda Report, Eddie Griffin (BASG), Exodus Mentality, Francis L. Holland Blog, Mirror on America, Anderson at Large, Skeptical Brotha this African American Political Pundit and many others would also bring a fresh perspective that America is unaccustomed to hearing in the mainstream media.

Network Executives may be fearful that America is so unaccustomed to hearing honest political commentary and analysis that the black bloggers noted above and other black bloggers like Back Yard Beacon, Black Political Thought, AfroNetizen, Black Women In Europe, AfroSpear Think Tank, Black Perspective, Black Smythe, Dallas South Blog, Mrs. Grapevine, Republic of T, What About Our Daughters?, Wichita NAACP Blog, Charcoal Ink, Bygbaby's Mind Spill, A Political Season and yes this African American Political Pundit would be to much for America to handle.

Well, Network TV executives and producers who may be reading this post, your wrong. There is no need to fear. By the way, you may want to consider following in the footsteps of the good folks at NPR's News and Notes, Bloggers Roundtable hosted by Farai Chideya. They have been providing bloggers from across America the opportunity to have a conversation with the American people. Farai Chideya and the folks at NPR are accustomed to providing honest political commentary and analysis that the black bloggers bring to America through The Bloggers Roundtable program.

OK now getting back to the question, Is "Sunday Morning Apartheid" gone?

Answer: Not when the most prominent positions on television remain overwhelmingly with those who are white and male. Not when a critical part of the "new media" is left out of the conversation - black bloggers. It's looking just a tad different on America's airwaves. As far as this African American Political Pundit is concerned, but It could be a lot better.

Then again who cares about black faces, for black faces sake. Are the current group of black faces saying what needs to be said? Well, this
African American Political Pundit has the hook up. I have my own BlogTalkRadio program and I love being a regular contributor to NPR's Bloggers Roundtable.


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