The Atlantic 50

September 20, 2009

Based on influence, reach, and web engagement, they are the “all-star team.”

These are the most influential commentators in the nation, the columnists and bloggers and broadcast pundits who shape the national debates.

We conducted surveys of more than 250 insiders – members of Congress, national media figures, and political players – asking respondents to rank-order the commentators who most influence their own thinking.

I clicked on the link.  I was curious to see how mainstream my sources of information and commentray are.  As I skimmed through I found it to be more or less the list you’d expect.

But by the time I got to twenty, I was paying attention to something else.  You have to scroll down to number thirteen before you find someone who isn’t a white man.  Among the fifty, there are only nine women to be found, and only two men of color.  There isn’t a single woman of color in the list.  Not a single one.

I don’t mean to overstate the importance of this list.  And demographics certainly aren’t everything.  But to those who think equal opportunity has been achieved, I’d ask what the chances are that the overwhelming whiteness of the group is merely coincidental.


One comment

  1. Tangentially: I remain a big fan of #50, Dick Hertzberg, who wrote the lead Talk of the Town piece in the New Yorker for most of my time in college (he’s less frequent these days but still present). I consistently find his historical perspective, interesting observations of trends and connections, and overall erudition encouraging (in its example of public intellectualism) and educational, and he’s really a delightfully good writer. I’m not totally sure what kind of liberal I am, but I might be his kind, whatever that is; I agree with him a lot.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why someone with limited time would read Maureen Dowd (#17), for instance, before Hertzberg (gender representation issues aside). But I guess that it’s expected that folks know the Times’ op-ed page, even though there is better stuff out there, IMHO.

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