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TV Talk Shows: “Sunday Morning Apartheid”
By: George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief
Originally posted 8/2/2005

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – More than 68 percent of Sunday morning network and cable talk shows have no Black guests and those that do, use only three people – Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Juan Williams – more than two-thirds of the time, a study by the National Urban League Policy Institute has disclosed. The report, titled “Sunday Morning Apartheid” was made public by the National Urban League this week.

“In 1958, Martin Luther King wrote: ‘It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.’ Today, nearly 50 years after Dr. King’s incisive observation about America’s churches, we are facing another form of Sunday Morning Apartheid: the Sunday morning talk shows,” the report states.

The Urban League monitored the talk shows for an 18-month period, from January 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005. During that period, it studied the five Sunday morning political talk shows: This Week with George Stephanopoulos (ABC), Face the Nation (CBS), Late Edition (CNN), Fox News Sunday (FOX) and Meet the Press (NBC).

Among its findings:
- Sixty-one percent of all Sunday morning talk shows feature no Black guests;
- Seventy-Eight percent of the broadcasts contained no interviews with Black guests;
- Eight percent of the guest appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows are by Black guests;
- Of more than 2,100 guest appearances studied, only 176 have been by Black guests. Three guests –Rice, Powell and Juan Williams – account for 122 of the 176 appearance;
- Appearances by guests other than Rice, Powell and Williams account for less than 3 percent of all guest appearances on Sunday morning talk shows and
- Three of the four programs presenting political roundtable discussion had no Blacks in their roundtable discussion in more than 85 percent of the broadcasts.

The idea of using only several hand-picked African-Americans was also reflected in the selection of Congressional Black Caucus members chosen to appear on the talk shows.

“Of the more than 75 Senators and House Members who appeared as guests, only three – Charles Rangel, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Harold Ford Jr. – were black,” the report notes. “None of the other 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus appeared on any of these programs during the 18-month period studied.”

Sunday talk shows are important because they are a source of news, they help the public understand and interpret politics and government and they signal what is news and who are the newsmakers, the report says.

“The exclusion of African American voices is not unique to Sunday morning talk shows,” the study observes. “With few exceptions, the television news outlets regularly fail to adequately include African Americans, other minorities and women in the vast majority of their news programming.”


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