Is MSNBC “Whiter” Than Fox News? The Return of the Racial Bean Counters

The news is whiter than ever, and it’s Barack Obama’s fault.  Or something.

That’s what Mediaite founder Rachel Sklar says at the Daily Beast, anyway:

Flip through the channels and there is no denying it: The world of cable news—and their network chat-show brethren—is very, very white.

Back in the heady days of the 2008 election, things were different. Not that different, mind you, but the news shows, dayside broadcasts and marathon primary night-panels had a pretty decent level of diversity. Already recognizable faces like Donna Brazile, Amy Holmes, Eugene Robinson, Juan Williams, and Roland Martin were joined by newcomers Joe Watkins, Keli Goff, Marc Lamont Hill, Michelle Bernard, and Jamal Simmons. Back in January 2009, I wrote on this site: “If 2009 isn’t the year of the black media star, then we are all doing something wrong.”

Clearly I was very, very wrong. Let’s review: Carlos Watson got a show briefly on MSNBC and was canceled, then disappeared from the network entirely; Roland Martin filled in for Campbell Brown on CNN for two months, then seemed to fade away as well. MSNBC’s Tamron Hall has been spotted doing fill-ins on the Today show, but when it comes to branded TV real estate, the 3 p.m. hour with David Shuster doesn’t quite measure up. Even NBC’s Christina Brown, who used to be featured on MSNBC’s First Look, was shelved for a Rachel Maddow rerun leading into Way Too Early with Willie Geist. It’s competitive out there, even at 5 a.m.

Interestingly, most of the fire is directed toward CNN, MSNBC, and the other MSM mainstays, with conspicuously little said about Fox News.  Maybe that’s because the Right’s favorite channel regularly features Julie Banderas, Linda Chavez, Wendell Goler, Lauren Green, Marc Lamont Hill (even though they shouldn’t), Michelle Malkin, Star Parker, Uma Pemmaraju, Jesse Lee Peterson, Al Sharpton, and Juan Williams (if I missed anyone, fire away in the comments).  Come on, MSNBC!  Start celebrating diversity, like Fox does!

Seriously, though, this is silly.  I care about what’s coming out of reporters’ and pundits’ mouths, not the color of the skin around those mouths.  When Larry Elder’s on TV, I pay attention.  When Charlie Rangel shows up, I scramble for the remote. (Although, in the interest of diversity, I hereby propose that somebody give Herman Cain a show.  Just try to tell me it wouldn’t be awesome.)

Sklar quotes’s Danielle Benton as saying the TV bigwigs often just don’t put in that much effort in digging up new talent, and MSNBC President Phil Griffin calling it “word of mouth—someone says, ‘Let’s use this person,’” and admitting that the earlier diversity push was a panic-driven attempt to avoid the wrath the Left rained down on Don Imus.  It’s that simple and that innocent.

Besides, given the media’s overwhelming left-wing bias, it’s not as if they’re not advancing the racial bean-counters’ approved views anyway.  Indeed, an awful lot of white people have been taking it upon themselves to root out “racism” at the tea parties.  If “diversity is our strength,” wouldn’t it make more sense to agitate for more ideological diversity?

Unless diversity’s not the real goal…


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

June 24th, 2010
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