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Too Little, Too Late: “Meet the Press” Continues to Let Women Down

April 8, 2005

Catholics for a Free Choice demonstration to call attention to the blatant exclusion of women of faith – right and left – on the critical issue of religion and politics from NBC’s flagship news program, “Meet the Press.”

Statement of Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice

WASHINGTON DC—It is surprising that the first response from “Meet the Press” to letters from women leaders regarding the lack of fair representation of women on programs related both to religion and public life and to religion and reproductive health is a press statement defending their record. We received no institutional response to my letter of March 29, 2005, or the December 6, 2004 letter signed by 20 leaders of women’s, progressive religious and reproductive health organizations. No attempt to discuss these important concerns was made—nor is being made at this time. It took a press advisory announcing a demonstration at NBC headquarters where “Meet the Press” is taped to spur the program to issue this defensive responsive.

The “Meet the Press” producers believe that the program has been fair and balanced in its inclusion of women. It cites two women on a program with more than eight guests on Sunday, April 3, and one guest scheduled for this coming Sunday. Frankly, this is not good enough. And where religion is concerned, “Meet the Press” seems to be cast in the mold of patriarchal religions, where women, almost invisible, are only called on rarely.

Nyquist’s Theory of Equilibrium, repeated by Bella Abzug, states that “Equality is not when a female Einstein gets promoted to assistant professor; equality is when a female schlemiel moves ahead as fast as a male schlemiel.” “Meet the Press” has many male experts on the program lower on the cultural totem pole than US cabinet secretaries and senators. It has few comparable women.

We will soon publish a comprehensive review of women guests—right, left and center by area of expertise—who have appeared on “Meet the Press.” We believe this review will show that the superficial mention of a few women or overall stats that include five-second sound bites will show the substantive discrimination against women experts by “Meet the Press.” We hope that data will convince the producers and host that it time for a change.

In the meantime, we will be at the network on Sunday to express our concern and call attention to the problem. Women are good at being in the outer circle; on the sidewalk. We are also great when allowed in the house!