Civil Rights Group Accuses Cable Networks of ‘Profound Underrepresentation’

By Mark Joyella 

Do the cable news networks have a diversity problem? The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) says they do–and the group has sent a letter to MSNBC, CNN and Fox News demanding they address “persistent underrepresentation” of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

“Networks need to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islander voices and perspectives are heard and that issues of importance to our communities are discussed,” said NCAPA national director Christopher Kang. “If we are invisible in the media, racial slurs and inaccurate portrayals of AAPIs will persist, but when Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are better represented–in particular, in the news–it allows for a more diverse understanding across all communities. All Americans–including AAPIs–deserve more accurate representation in our media.”

The letter, signed by 23 civil rights and community groups, asks for a meeting with network executives to discuss representation and “recent incidents that involve news hosts and guests who made disparaging remarks about the AAPI community on the air.”


“The profound underrepresentation of Asian American and Pacific Islander people on prime-time news exacerbates the injury caused when someone like Ann Coulter uses her time as a guest of Hardball with Chris Matthews to mislabel Asian Americans with the racially charged term ‘Mandarins,’ as she did last month,” said Jenn Fang of the group Reappropriate, which signed the letter.

“Networks may not be wholly responsible for their guests’ commentary, but it is troublesome that they routinely enable the broadcast of offensive comments while they simultaneously deny members of targeted communities the same opportunity to respond and engage with our national political discourse.”

The says Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up less than 3 percent of invited nightly news or Sunday morning political talk show guests, even though more than 6 percent of the American people are AAPI.