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During the week of the Imus controversy, cable news networks marginally increased the representation of minorities on their broadcasts – but subsequently relegated women and people of color “to the back of the cable news room,” Media Matters said.

The media “demonstrated their propensity to diversify their guest lists only when exploring an issue of race or gender,” according to Media Matters, which issued its “Locked Out: The Lack of Gender & Ethnic Diversity on Cable News Continues” report this week (via teachingmedia).

The study results show that women and people of color were severely underrepresented as guests on these cable networks in the weeks before and after the Imus controversy, although the Media Matters study found a small increase in racial/ethnic diversity during the controversy.

Some findings from the study, below.

During the week of the Imus controversy, the cable networks brought on a significant number of African-American guests. But both before and after the controversy, members of all minority groups, including African-Americans, were severely reduced.

On shows airing between 4 pm and midnight on cable news networks CNBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, and Fox News, there are 35 hosts and cohosts: 29 are men and 6 are women. All 35 are white.


In the three weeks covered by the study, less than 2 percent of the guests on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC were Latino; one out of every seven Americans is Latino. Almost half of those small numbers of guest appearances by Latinos were by Geraldo Rivera.


Excluding African-Americans, in the three weeks covered by the study, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and members of other ethnic groups never made up more than 5 percent of the guests on any of the three cable networks.

On none of the networks, in none of the weeks studied, did women comprise half of the guests appearing. In some cases, they represented as little as one-fifth of all guests.


The full report is available at

Media Matters examined the three major cable news networks – CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC – during viewing hours from 7 to 10 p.m. ET, documenting the gender and racial/ethnic makeup of guests during the weeknights before the Imus controversy (Monday, April 2, through Friday, April 6), the weeknights of the Imus controversy (Monday, April 9, through Friday, April 13), and the weeknights following the Imus controversy (Monday, April 23, through Friday, April 27; omitting the week directly following the Imus controversy because it was consumed almost entirely by a single issue, the Virginia Tech shootings, and thus was atypical).

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