Rick Sanchez: Spare Me All The Ranting And Wailing About Inclusiveness In TV

Pardon me for not joining the pity party taking place among my esteemed colleagues in the media this week. You know who I’m talking about right? The ones that have been ranting, wailing and bemoaning the way the Richard Sherman and Mike Huckabee comments have been reported.

As a managing editor and host of one of CNN’s most highly rated shows in the last decade (yes, I had to get that in, given the news this week regarding the network’s historic ratings plunge, oops!), I know what it’s like to have to fill a slow news week with predictable segments.

Just as I’ve resigned myself to the idea that immigration reform isn’t going to happen either. How could it, if we don’t even get a seat at the table to discuss the very issue that most affects us?

— Rick Sanchez

So when I see talking heads assembled into panels to discuss whether former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee insulted women with his “libido” line, or whether Richard Sherman was right to say that “thug” is the new N-word, I’m not shocked. That’s right, I’m not shocked by the absence of African Americans or women chosen to opine on news panels.

Why? Because in defense of the programmers, the panels are often composed before the topics are selected. And even more to the point, there are usually a multitude of topics that are discussed.

Yes, in an ideal instance it is best to include a woman panelist when discussing women's issues or an African American when discussing race issues. Few would disagree that critics are well within their right to point that out.

More On This...

There is a difference, however; between pointing something out and screaming it out. My friends at the The Huffington Post for example chose to frame Fox News’ coverage of the Huckabee comment with a headline that read: “This is How Fox News Debates Women’s Issues.”

Is that really fair — given that it was only one of several topics discussed? Is it really fair to imply that it’s commonplace for Fox News to exclude women when even Fox News host Bret Baier astutely and responsibly suggested the importance of including a woman’s voice on the subject? I think not.

While we’re on the subject of panels, can I share something with you which is rarely noticed or written about? I’ve been watching the Sunday morning panel shows now since I was off the boat, you know what they are, right? The ones we could refer to as the “super panels of TV news,” because they’re the most copied and most revered as industry standards. They are also the ones that are least apt to include Latinos when discussing immigration, a subject which is regularly discussed on these shows.

Rarely if ever will you see members of the media represented there whose name, like mine, ends in a ‘z.‘  I’ve watched the big three – CBS, ABC and NBC – as long as I can remember, and I can tell you as sure as I profess my love for Cuban coffee that a Latino panelist on one of those shows is as uncommon as a non white host.

In fact, I’ve resigned myself to the idea that it just isn’t going to happen. Just as I’ve resigned myself to the idea that immigration reform isn’t going to happen either. How could it, if we don’t even get a seat at the table to discuss the very issue that most affects us?

It is always best to be as inclusive as possible when inviting guests to join panels, but guess who is invited least of all, according to the most recent Media Matters study? Latinos, who make up only 2 percent of guests on cable news. And which cable network is most apt to invite a Latino to a panel? Fox News. Who knew?

Still, the overall picture does not exactly spell out ‘inclusion.’ As the largest minority group in the U.S., Latinos make up almost 17 percent of the population, yet they get only 2 percent representation on TV news? How fair is that?

Funny how we rarely hear much media palaver about the lack of representation of Hispanics on TV news, unless of course it comes from somebody like me whose name ends in a ‘z.” Let me address those who complained so apoplectically this week about inclusiveness with just two words: