Advocates for media diversity are trying something different this election cycle: They're going to publish data about the gender balance of commentators on the six highest-rated cable news shows, every week from now until November, in hopes of pressuring networks to do better.
Who Talks?, a project of GenderAvenger in partnership with the Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) and the Women’s Media Center, will monitor six morning and primetime cable shows: CNN's New Day and Anderson Cooper 360, Fox News's Fox & Friends and The Kelly File, and MSNBC's Morning Joe and The Rachel Maddow Show.
"With women seeking the nation’s highest office and key executive and legislative roles around the country, it’s essential to learn who’s translating and explaining national politics and whether women analysts are at the table contributing to the conversation," CAWP director Debbie Walsh said in a statement.
Indeed, when you turn on cable news to find out what's going on in the world, chances are that the person telling you about it will be a white man. Women and people of color are underrepresented as guests on cable news in general, and women are called on far less often than men to discuss issues like foreign policy or the economy.
Who Talks? is going to focus on election coverage and commentary, tracking how frequently women are brought on to discuss the 2016 election.
Here are the first results, from the week of February 29 to March 4:
Anderson Cooper did by far the best, with a nearly even gender split of 51 percent male to 49 percent female.
Both Fox shows, Fox & Friends and The Kelly File, did equally poorly — just 14 percent of their guest commentators were women. Morning Joe didn't fare much better, with 17 percent women.
We'll keep an eye on the results and see how the networks fare as the election cycle continues.