We've all heard the never-ending cry from liberal Democrats that conservative Republicans dodge diversity by favoring white males as hosts and guests on their television programs to the detriment of people in such groups as women and blacks.
However, in an article on the Reuters news service, writer Chloe Angyal charges that such “liberal lions” as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of the Comedy Central cable channel are obviously hypocritical regarding this topic since “their guest rosters more closely resemble a GOP national convention than they do the liberal vision of a diverse and equitable America.”
After describing the past few months as “one of the most news-heavy summers in decades,” Angyal stated that “Ukraine, Gaza and now Ferguson have gripped the attention of those who cover and consume the news.”
She added that “millions of Americans, especially younger ones, will have their understanding of these international and domestic crises filtered through the lens of political satire, thanks to the efforts of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and relative newcomer John Oliver. “
The reporter stated that “Stewart and Colbert are darlings of the left, icons of contemporary American liberalism.” However, “the majority of their guests are just as white and male as they are.”
“Colbert’s track record, in particular, is simply pitiful,” Angyal noted. “This is both surprising and dismaying, given his status as one of the most visible liberal comedians performing political satire today, and the place he holds in the hearts of so many left-leaning American viewers.
“All 10 hosts of late-night television programs are white, though that's going to change at the end of the year,” she noted. “That's when Colbert takes over The Late Show on CBS and The Colbert Report is replaced with The Minority Report, which will be hosted by The Daily Show's longtime senior black correspondent, Larry Wilmore.”
Meanwhile, Angyal stated:
Of Stewart's most recent 45 guests, 17 of them, or 38 percent were women. This is closer to gender equity than many comedy and news shows manage, and it’s certainly a better showing than Colbert.
But when you factor in race, Stewart’s numbers start to look very grim indeed. A resounding majority -- 68 percent -- of his guests were white, and of the very few African-American guests who appeared on his show, all were entertainers.
“Women of color fared similarly poorly on The Daily Show,” she said. “Out of 45 guests, just three were women of color.”
Turning to Colbert's guests, Angyal declared that “the numbers were worse still: Of 45 guests, 73 percent were men, and 89 percent were white.” Of the 12 women who appeared with Colbert, “there was just one woman of color -- District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.”
The reporter then indicated that this isn't the first time Stewart has come under fire before for the lack of diversity in his staff and among his correspondents.
In 2010, journalist Irin Carmon -- now a commentator for the liberal MSNBC cable channel -- wrote about the lack of gender diversity in late-night comedy generally but zeroed in on The Daily Show as a particularly poor performer. “As fiercely liberal and sharp-eyed an observer as Jon Stewart can be, getting women on the air may be his major blind spot,” he wrote.
“Though Colbert came under fire earlier this year for his attempt to use racial insensitivity to mock racial insensitivity, he has not faced public criticism about the dearth of women on his show,” the reporter stated, “but his failure to feature a diverse range of guests suggests that he should.”
During early summer, “Colbert interviewed white men on six consecutive shows,” she noted. “In short, Colbert and, to a lesser extent Stewart, are sending the message that the most credible, interesting and relevant people out there -- the people viewers should hear from and know about -- are almost all white and male.”
Despite the facts and figures Angyal presented, she admitted: “Late-night comedy will be dominated by white men for the foreseeable future” since hosts rarely come and go -- “and we are so far from racial and gender equity that it will take years before the host population hits parity.”
The reporter failed to mention the latest attempt to give blacks a higher profile in the late-night talk show circuit -- a return by black comedian/host Arsenio Hall, which was canceled after just one year due to low ratings.
However, “achieving diversity among guests can be solved much more quickly,” she asserted. “If we must live in a late-night landscape hosted by white guys, the least we can demand of those men, especially if we’re going to hold them up as liberal icons, is that they practice what they preach. Right now, the hypocrisy is so severe that it’s not even funny.”