Who are you most likely to see and hear on Colorado political television?
If you answered a white, middle-aged, Republican male with a college degree and a white-collar career, you’d be correct.
A recent study by ProgressNow Colorado analyzed the demographics of individuals appearing on Colorado’s political television shows from 2014 to today. The study revealed a consistent and pervasive under-representation in Colorado’s punditry, along with some disturbing implications for the future.
Some of the findings? Not only are men heard twice as often as women on political television shows, but whites make up a staggering 85% of all pundits. The study illustrated that over-qualification is necessary for minority representation: pundits of color, on average, possess graduate degrees, while the majority of white pundits hold only bachelor’s degrees. Republicans, too, achieve the lowest education levels of any political party recorded: just a four-year degree. (So if you’re expecting to hear from true experts when you tune in to political television, you’re not necessarily getting the expertise you bargained for.)
Most tellingly, pundits facing the “double bind” of being both female and individuals of color find the odds of being seen and heard on television are stacked high against them. Viewers of political television will see just one woman of color for every 100 male pundits.
The pattern of discrimination is clear: the farther a pundit deviates from the “norm” of whiteness, maleness, and right-wing politics, the less likely he or she is to be seen and heard on television.
And why are these statistics disturbing? Because a lack of minority representation in punditry provides implicit messaging to minorities that there is no place for them on political television – or in politics at all. And that political alienation bodes very, very ill for those hoping to see adequate representation in politics, and beyond.
For a deeper look into ProgressNow’s study, along with a series of infographics, click here.