Complaint: Women 'screwed' out of TV pundit jobs

By |
Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Trailblazing female communicator Dee Dee Myers, the first woman to be named White House press secretary, has her sights on a new target-rich environment: Getting TV news to give more women a voice.

She and others are expressing frustration with the lack of attention to women's issues on TV news during an election some dubbed the "year of the women," as well as with the tiny part women have on cable TV news panels where men have long dominated.

While hosting a recent panel for Emily's List, the political group that funds pro-choice Democratic female candidates, Myers said TV execs would give her the cold shoulder when trying to push for coverage of women. "As a pundit," she said, "I would try to go there. You know, 'This is going to be a really interesting year for women evolving.' It was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, there she goes again. Finish your point so we can get back to the real issues.'"

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said it is time to pressure TV news to hire more female pundits. "It was not enough of the year of the women pundit," she said at the Emily's List event. "We are still really getting screwed out there on women on TV, women commentators."

Men, on the other hand, seem to have walk-on status, she said. "Any guy seems to be able to get on there," said Laguens.

Numbers prove them right. Julie Burton, president of the Women's Media Center, told Secrets that on both cable and network TV, 77 percent of the political news guests were men and 18 percent were women. On "Meet the Press" and on "Face the Nation," the guests were 78% men and 21% women.

"Women are 51 percent of the population and the producers, bookers, and hosts of the shows can do a better job to make sure we hear the whole story--not just the perspectives of half," she said.