Joy Reid took a look at the media fixation on the "B-boys": Biden, Bernie, Beto and Buttigieg with panelists Neera Tanden, Jason Johnson and Kwame Jackson.
April 7, 2019

Thank you, Joy Reid, for taking on the question of why it is that media is fixated on the men running for the Democratic nomination when there are a record number of women running, too.

As one small example of this, no Sunday show invited a female candidate to appear today, but Tim Ryan, Andrew Yang, and Pete Buttigieg were all guests on various shows.

AMJoy panelist Jason Johnson argued that the focus on white males reflects a lack of diversity in the media. "Most reporters are white, and they're looking for a candidate that makes them feel good about themselves." He also went on to say that Pete Buttigieg is a "white, gay version of Cory Booker, but at least Cory Booker is in the Senate."

Is it the polling that pushes these guys up for media focus? I'm not sure how that explains Andrew Yang, but maybe Joy has a point. Margaret Sullivan wrote about media coverage and why it's skewed toward the 'B-boys," who were at that time Bernie, Biden and Beto.

The horse-race model seems, as usual, to be out ahead by more than a few furlongs.

And so, we hear a lot about the B-Boys. In polling, in fundraising, in media ardor, they begin to seem inevitable.


Because Biden and Bernie, at least, are at the top of the polls, and have the highest name recognition.

Here's the takeaway from this long, must-watch discussion: It is time for media and Democrats to understand who the base of the Democratic party is and take them seriously, as Newsweek's Kwame Jackson lays out so well.

"We are at an inclusion inflection point and it's time to demand diversity," he declared.

"We are in 2020. America is no longer striving to be diverse, it is diverse and we must demand a diverse slate of candidates who represent us and you cannot look in this field in 2020 and say there are not diverse candidates who can step forward into the VP position or the Presidential position," he explained.

"So people who say that, look, we have to go to a white flight to safety in order to beat Donald Trump, that's a fallacy," he warned.

Indeed it is. And yet it is media's default. They are most comfortable with that which they know well: White men. It's why they minimize women candidates' accomplishments to build up the men, it's why they didn't cover Elizabeth Warren's fiery speech at National Action Network last week but raved about "Mayor Pete's" and it's why they obsessed on Joe Biden's touchy-feeliness all week at the expense of the women and people of color out on the campaign trail.

In Iowa, Warren, Harris, and Booker are wildly popular, but you'd never know it from the coverage. There's been more interviews with Andrew Yang than coverage of what's happening on the ground. Will media ever learn?

UPDATE: NYU Professor Jay Rosen is pessimistic:

Absent some kind of creative intervention, 2020 campaign coverage looks like it will be the same as it ever was. Who’s ahead? What’s it gonna take to win? The debacle in 2016 has not brought forth any dramatic shift in approach.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.