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Media Matters: Latino presence on Sunday news shows dwindles

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(Read caption) In this photo provided by CBS News, John Dickerson smiles during his debut as permanent host of 'Face The Nation' on June 7, in Washington. Sunday news programs in general are inviting fewer Latino guests, according to a report released Monday by Media Matters of America.

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The number of Latino guests on Sunday news shows has dropped this year, according to a new report from the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America.

The analysis reviewed seven different shows across 18 Sundays, between Jan. 4 and May 3. Of the 1,172 guests on those shows, 4 percent were Latino, the analysis found. A similar analysis the group performed from Aug. 31 to Dec. 28 last year found that 7 percent of the 1,210 guests were Latino.

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“Sunday shows sharply reducing their inclusion of Hispanic voices not only does a disservice to the audience but is disconnected from the significant role this community plays in our society,” Angelo Carusone, vice president of Media Matters for America, told NBC News.

The drop has occurred despite both parties acknowledging the growing importance of the Latino electorate, and recent incendiary comments Donald Trump, now the GOP frontrunner for president, made about illegal immigrants.

The 2016 presidential election is being heralded for the anticipated importance of the Latino vote, and both major parties are making winning the Latino vote a high priority.

But the number of Latino guests on the far-reaching, influential Sunday shows belies this trend. And the Media Matters for America study found that not only were Latino guests infrequent, but also didn’t speak on a diversity of subjects.

With 10 Hispanic guests each, MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” and “Fox News Sunday” lead the English-language shows during the analysis period. But that doesn’t mean the shows had a diversity of Hispanic guests. Fox News host Juan Williams accounted for 90 percent of Hispanic guest appearances on “Fox News Sunday,” the study found. In the 2014 analysis Mr. Williams accounted for 60 percent of the show’s Hispanic guests. Ana Navarro, a CNN contributor, made up four of the six Latino guest appearances on ABC’s “This Week.”

Ms. Harris-Perry also had the most discussions with Latino guests – four – about subjects other than immigration, according to the study. Two Latino guests appeared for discussions on the economy and education respectively.

The number of Latino guests discussing immigration is down from the 2014 analysis, however. Six Hispanic guests discussed immigration on the shows this year, compared to 37 on last year’s shows. 

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The two major Spanish-language shows analyzed in the study devoted most of their discussions to immigration. They discussed the topic 61 times during the study period, compared to six discussions on jobs and the economy, respectively, four on healthcare and three on education.

The decline in Latino guests also comes as Mr. Trump has set keyboards ablaze with a campaign launch speech where he described illegal immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.”

Trump’s speech came after the end of the study period, but Mr. Carusone told NBC News that the case for greater inclusion of Latino voices in the media “has never been more clear” – especially as Trump continues to refuse to back away from his comments, even saying last week that “Hispanics love me.”

“The case for inclusion [of Latinos] has never been more clear with Latinos fueling the national conversation about Donald Trump’s bigotry and influencing the business community’s decisions to dump Trump,” said Carusone.