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Gender

Supreme Court set to overturn Roe v. Wade

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In segments discussing the Supreme Court draft opinion revealing the court has decided to repeal Roe v. Wade, Fox News hosted an overwhelming number of men and white people, largely excluding voices most heavily affected by the decision to strike down abortion rights in the United States. In contrast, CNN and MSNBC hosted a majority of women to discuss the news.

Key Findings

In cable news segments that discussed Roe or the draft opinion between May 2, when Politico published the leaked decision, through 5 p.m. EDT on May 5:

  • Men made up nearly two-thirds of all guest appearances on Fox News (64 percent).
  • The majority of guest appearances on CNN (63 percent) and MSNBC (69 percent) were by women.
  • White people made up 87 percent of guest appearances on Fox.
  • CNN and MSNBC featured white people in 70 percent and 62 percent of such guest appearances, respectively.
  • Across the three cable news networks, 21 percent of guest appearances were by women of color — 24 percent of appearances on CNN, 30 percent on MSNBC, and just seven percent on Fox News.
On the evening of May 2, Politico reported a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, revealing the court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The possible repeal would roll back the clock nearly half a century and return abortion law to each state. It would trigger legislation banning abortion in 13 states and would lay the groundwork for an additional 19 states to enforce pre-Roe abortion bans that are still on the books or to institute regressive laws banning abortion extremely early, in the weeks before fetal viability.

The potential ruling would impact people of color the most, and it has already been criticized not only for standing on flimsy and unprecedented legal ground, but also for defying broad and categorical public opinion. In the communities that would be most affected, 63 percent of women, 68 percent of Black adults, and 60 percent of Hispanic adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Even though this decision impacts women and people of color the most, Fox News predominately hosted men and white guests in segments that discussed the end of Roe: 87 percent of guest appearances in such segments were of white people, 64 percent were by men, and 58 percent were by white men. Only 36 percent were by women.

CNN and MSNBC fared slightly better when it came to featuring a diversity of voices. Both networks featured more guest appearances of women than men in segments on Roe, with CNN featuring women in 63 percent and MSNBC featuring them in 69 percent of such segments.

Across the three cable news networks, 21 percent of guest appearances were by women of color — 24 percent of appearances on CNN, 30 percent on MSNBC, and just seven percent on Fox News.

Black guests also comprised much larger proportions of guest appearances on CNN and MSNBC than on Fox. Approximately 22 percent of guest appearances in segments discussing the decision on CNN and 27 percent on MSNBC were of Black guests. By contrast, only five percent of such appearances on Fox were of Black guests.

All other races and ethnicities – Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Latino/Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and mutiracial guests – were featured in 6% or less of guest appearances on any of the three networks.

It should be noted, however, that MSNBC chose to platform anti-abortion activists in its programming, featuring segments with Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life and Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List. In her appearance, Hawkins was allowed to spread anti-abortion misinformation unchecked.

Fox’s decision to host mostly men and white people in segments discussing the opinion might explain why the network’s coverage was largely focused on the leak rather than the damaging impact from the repeal of Roe. Rather than airing segments featuring guests who could describe the genuine impacts of such a decision, Fox News shows like Hannity featured panels of white men to feign outrage over the leak.

When cable media outlets – particularly Fox News – fail to feature guests who can speak to the personal impacts of the story, they fail to adequately inform their viewers about the horrifying ramifications of overturning Roe.

Additional research contributions from Erin Kee

Methodology

Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) from May 2, 2022, when the report of the draft opinion came out, through 5 p.m. EDT May 5, 2022, for guest segments that touched on the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) from May 2, 2022, when the report of the draft opinion came out, through 5 p.m. EDT May 5, 2022, for guest segments that touched on the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

We reviewed all guest participants in the identified segments for their sex or gender and their race or ethnicity. We classified an individual as “male” or “female” based on their self-identification or publicly available biographical information; no participants in this study publicly identified as nonbinary. We based an individual’s race or ethnicity on their self-identification or publicly available biographical information. If a guest participant’s race or ethnicity could not be determined through such means, we coded them as “unknown.” For guests who identified with multiple races or ethnicities, we coded them as “multiracial.” We used categories as defined by the U.S. Census with the addition of “Middle Eastern” as defined by the U.S. State Department.


We coded guest participants as “white” if they self-identify as white or are of European descent; as “Black” if they self-identify as African American or Black or are of African descent; as “Latinx/Hispanic” if they self-identify as Latino/Latina or Hispanic or are of Spanish/Latin American descent; as “Asian American/Pacific Islander” if they self-identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander or are of Asian descent or Pacific Island descent; or as “Middle Eastern” if they self-identify as Middle Eastern or are of Middle Eastern descent.

We rounded all percentages to the nearest whole.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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Tucker Carlson

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Tucker Carlson's foray into testicle toasting is only the latest (and possibly most amusing) example of the right wing's masculinity obsession. The manliness theme keeps reappearing. Trump's strutting tough talk was imbibed greedily by fans eager for affirmation of the manly virtues.

Trump and his acolytes didn't invent this; insecure masculinity is an old phenomenon.

In the early years of the 20th century, Europe experienced something of a masculinity crisis. Popular writers, physicians and journalists began to fret that young Englishmen, Frenchmen and Germans had become soft after so many uninterrupted years of peace. In her magisterial history of the period, The War That Ended Peace, Margaret MacMillan traced the currents that coursed through European society in the years before the Great War. Francois Coppee, a French nationalist, worried that "Frenchmen are degenerating ... too absorbed in the race for enjoyment and luxury to retain that grand subordination of self to great causes which has been the historic glory of the French character." In Great Britain, Gen. Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in part because he feared the emasculation of England's youth.

In America, too, many feared that urbanization and industrialization had feminized men. Theodore Roosevelt glorified and personified the "strenuous life."

It's a universal worry. Russian President Vladimir Putin has portrayed himself shirtless on horseback, defeating opponents in hand-to-hand judo combat and shooting tigers (staged, of course). In 2021, the Chinese government banned "effeminate men" from TV and instructed broadcasters to "resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal aesthetics." They were to depict only "revolutionary culture."

It's tempting to dismiss all of this as the pathetic bleats of hollow men who merit only derision. But as anthropologists, psychologists and historians alike can testify, the male need for validation is universal, and when societies fail to offer constructive paths for masculine expression, they court backlash. The negative aspects of masculinity are always lurking just beneath the surface.

In the past 60 years, America and the rest of the developed world have witnessed dramatic and precedent-shattering changes in women's status and in relations between men and women. Not all have been positive. Boys and men have felt neglected in the march toward "girl power" and "woman power." Cutting back on recess denies children not just an outlet for restless limbs but crucial social and emotional learning.

Girls are now outperforming boys at nearly every level of education. They earn 60 percent of bachelor's and master's degrees, and comprise 70 percent of high school valedictorians. Women are also dominating many workplaces. Women today hold a majority of the nation's jobs, including 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs — up from 26.1 percent in 1980.

The sexual and feminist revolutions of the 1960s delivered mixed signals to men. At first, the message was: "Women were just as randy as men, and sex was a romp and a frolic." Then it was: "No, wait, failing to get consent for every caress and kiss was assault." Masculinity itself was not a constitutive part of humanity; it was "toxic."

The other great upheaval of the past half-century is the decline of the two-parent family. The great dividing line in American life is not progressive versus conservative, urban versus rural, or black versus white. It's married versus not. For example, African American husbands have higher labor force participation rates than white bachelors. The upper third of the income distribution, who tend to marry and stay together, also tend to raise thriving children. By contrast, the lowest third, who mostly have revolving-door relationships without marriage, tend to have kids who don't. The middle third is more like the bottom than the top. Children in homes with a non-relative adult are 11 times more likely to be the victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse than those living with their biological or adoptive parents.

Boys are more disadvantaged than girls when they are raised by single mothers. Two MIT economists studied pairs of siblings in Florida between 1992 and 2002. They found that "Fatherless boys are less ambitious, less hopeful and more likely to get into trouble at school than fatherless girls." Being raised by a single mother significantly decreased the likelihood that a boy would attend college but had no similar effect on girls.

A significant percentage of American men are growing up without models of manliness in the form of fathers. They don't see a man shouldering responsibilities for his wife and children, helping with expenses (or covering them), joking with Mom, taking out the trash, tossing a ball with his kids, helping with homework or preparing a meal. Without a balanced picture of masculinity based upon their life experience, they search for masculinity elsewhere and often find a tawdry version offered up by the Carlsons and Putins of this world.

So, in a sense, we do have a masculinity crisis. We have large numbers of men who never marry, never support their kids and are loosely attached to the community. They are insecure about their masculinity for good reason — and that presents a problem for us all.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Printed with permission from Creators.