President Obama’s regulation mandating that health insurance plans offer free birth control is an issue that most directly affects women. And yet, the cable news chatter over this controversy has been driven mostly by men, according to a new ThinkProgress analysis.
From Monday through Thursday evening, the leading cable news channels – Fox, Fox Business, MSNBC, and CNN – invited almost twice as many men as women onto their shows to discuss contraceptive coverage.
Out of a total of 146 guests who discussed contraception, the cables invited 91 men compared to 55 women as commentators. In other words, males comprised 62 percent of the total guests who commented on contraception. Fox was the most gender stratified network – on the Business network, 10 of 11 guests were male; on the News side, male pundits took up 65 percent of the guest lineup (28 men vs. 15 women). Sixty percent of MSNBC’s lineup was male (44 men vs. 31 women). And while CNN was more evenly balanced, it was still slightly tilted in favor of male perspectives (9 men vs. 8 women).
A note on methodology: The survey did not include male or female hosts of shows who happened to comment on the controversy. Some guests, like Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), appeared more than once during this stretch, but on different programs and networks. Each appearance was counted separately.
Contraceptive coverage is an issue where female perspectives should be heeded and understood. When it comes to contraceptive coverage, adding women’s voices on everything from their experiences with insurers to the decision’s impact on women voters can only make for a richer conversation. Hopefully, those individuals responsible for booking television guests will be more cognizant of gender sensitivities going forward.