Allocating speaking spots on mass media

FAIR’s survey of cable news discussion programs reveals predictable demographic biases:

A survey of major cable news discussion programs shows a stunning lack of diversity among the guests.

FAIR surveyed five weeks of broadcasts of the interview/discussion segments on several leading one-hour cable shows: CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° and OutFront With Erin Burnett, All In With Chris Hayes and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.


Male guests widely outnumbered women on every show (730 to 285), making up 72 percent of the guest lists. Just 5 percent (46) of cable news guests were women of color. […] Women of color (about 18 percent of the US public) were strikingly underrepresented on most shows […] Non-Latino white men, on the other hand, were overrepresented on every show.

But, of course, the bias is not only gender- and race-based:

The largest category of guests were other members of the media: 55 percent of the guests were either journalists (400) or pundits (159). Current and former government officials were the next largest category, accounting for almost 10 percent of guests (107). There were 37 military guests (current and former), 35 representatives of think tanks and 32 academics. Other prominent guest categories were lawyers (21) and business representatives (17).

Such biases give certain groups in the population disproportional voice in politics, meaning they are undemocratic. The way to achieve proper representation is to allot speaking spots on mass media, giving each person the same chance of getting their worldview represented.

The Median Voter Rules — OK?

Cabinet reshuffle montage: ministers in Downing Street
David Cameron used his reshuffle to promote a number of women – and to sack Michael Gove

Francis Elliott, Michael Savage and Laura Pitel, The Times, July 16 2014:

Michael Gove was removed as education secretary after David Cameron’s election guru warned about his “toxic” polling. Mr Gove paid the price as the prime minister reshaped his cabinet into an election-fighting unit, more than doubling the number of women in a top team that he claimed “reflects modern Britain”. . . [P]olling showing that more than half of voters thought the education secretary was doing a bad job fatally undermined him. Insiders say that Lynton Crosby, the Tories’ election strategist, led a powerful coalition inside No 10 calling for Mr Gove to be removed.

Michael Gove was the architect of the government’s ‘free schools’ policy, which was intended to encourage state-maintained schools to aspire to the values and achievements of independent (fee-paying) schools. This was certainly not a policy designed to appeal to the ‘rich and powerful’ (who can afford the fees of independent schools) as it increases the competition for places in top universities. The toppling of Gove is, ironically, a victory for the rich and powerful, but it was instituted by the need to pander to the preferences of the median voter. The commitment of the government to free schools was ideological, as opposed to reflecting the interests of the ruling elite, and the overturning of it was in response to the perceived [i.e. short-term] interests of the median voter. The main reason that Gove appeared unpopular with parents in Crosby’s focus groups, was his insistence on rigorous examination standards and the attempt to return to a traditional (ie academically challenging) core curriculum. David Cameron and the vast majority of the cabinet supported Gove’s strategy but he was sacrificed for purely electoral purposes (another factor being the need to reduce the alienation of teachers and other public-sector workers).
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