Cable News Has A Representation Problem When Talking About Abortion

Photo: Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
Just like Congress, cable news gives men a platform to voice their unwanted opinions on what women should do with their bodies. In fact, men talk about abortion on cable news in much higher numbers than women, according to a new study conducted by Media Matters.
Looking at Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC over the past year, the study found that 60% of hosts, guests, and correspondents discussing reproductive rights on cable news were male. It also found that 64% of all comments made about abortion were inaccurate, which is probably no coincidence.
Advertisement
Fox News had the highest gap between the number of men and women opining about uteri, with only 32% of people participating in reproductive rights conversations on its primetime shows actually having a uterus. (Cable news also isn't known for having transgender guests, so it's safe to assume the majority — if not all — of the people counted in the study were cisgender). In comparison, 42% of people discussing women's health care on CNN and 43% on MSNBC in the last year were women.
So, even the most liberal networks don't give women the floor to discuss laws and health care issues that predominantly affect them. Unsurprisingly, only shows hosted by women — such as The Kelly File and The Rachel Maddow Show — boasted more female than male representation.
When it comes to accuracy on the subject, Fox News was also the worst offender, with 80% of comments made on its network about reproductive rights containing inaccurate information, according to the study. On MSNBC, 47% of statements were erroneous, and on CNN, 38%.
Cable news is almost as bad as the federal government, with its 80% male majority obsessed with dictating what health care people with uteri should have access to. In 2017 alone, 33 bills and amendments relating to abortion have already been introduced in Congress — that's 33 measures pushed by mostly wealthy white men that will affect all women, but especially low-income women of color.
Because men still predominantly hold positions of power in government and media, the national discussion about reproductive rights is dominated by people who can't get pregnant. It should go without saying, but women need to be included in debates about women's issues. Crazy idea, right?
Advertisement