Sisterhood Blog

Female Analysts Taking Their Place at Political Roundtables

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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Never thought I’d be saying this about Fox News, but I witnessed what may be a watershed moment for women — in a good way — on the Fox Sunday News show “Panel Plus.”

The show on August 15 was guest-hosted by Bret Baier and featured four politically conservative talking heads discussing the current news. And three of the four panelists were women.

They included Fortune magazine Washington Bureau Chief Nina Easton, Fox News commentator and press secretary for George W. Bush Dana Perino, and Washington Post political reporter Ceci Connolly, along with neo-con magazine Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol.

They weren’t talking about “women’s issues,” either, but about Republican prospects in the upcoming primary elections, about the mosque near Ground Zero (two blocks away, the proposed Muslim community center site is not “at” Ground Zero) and Obama’s plans for drawing down troops from Iraq.

Now, after one too many dyspepsia-inducing views of The McLaughlin Group, where a high decibel level seems a prerequisite for participation, as host John McLaughlin shouts while stepping on his guests’ statements, I don’t watch many of these Sunday morning political analysis shows anymore.

But when I happened on the Fox News show and saw three women and one man in the group of news analysts, it caught my attention. Even better, the only person Baier tried to cut off was Kristol. Unlike on the McLaughlin Group, where participants always sound pressured to get their thoughts expressed as fast as possible before the host shouts them down, the Fox Panel Plus discussion was calm even while some of the sentiments expressed were sharp.

Looking at the McLaughlin Group website, I see that two of his three regular commentators are also women — Newsweek Contributing Editor Eleanor Clift and Monica Crowley — along with Pat Buchanan.

Although I’m generally not a fan of their points of political view, it is good to see that women are now a routine part of televised political roundtables.


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