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Category: Media, Media Monitoring

Only 9 out of 50 Top-Paid Media Pundits are Women

November 10, 2010

Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Beck. Sean Hannity. Bill O’Reilly. Not only are these individuals some of the most influential conservative pundits, they are also the most highly paid media figures in modern history. Newsweek’s writers, who compiled a list of the 50 highest paid media personalities, report that Limbaugh rakes in $58.7 million per year, Beck earns $33 million, and Hannity and O’Reilly follow up with incomes in the 20s.  As the writers point out, the most highly paid media figures are also the most influential ones, and, interestingly, these figures are overwhelmingly conservative. In fact, only 7 out of the top 25 pundits were progressive.

These individuals are overwhelmingly male as well. Out of the top 50 pundits on the list, only nine are women, and only one woman—Sarah Palin—graces the top 10 portion of the list.  Rachel Maddow, #32, is the only queer woman on the list and Condoleeza Rice, #36, represents the only woman of color on the list. Sarah Palin earned $14 million this year, while the rest of the women on the list made less than $10 million. While any salary in the millions is a significant chunk of change, it’s important to wonder why women in the media are earning significantly less than their male counterparts.

Newsweek asserts that, in our increasingly media-saturated, Internet-obsessed age, people want media figures to do more than just report the news: they want media figures to create ideas.  Predominantly white, heterosexual, male conservatives have been creating our mainstream ideas for generations.  Therefore this list begs the question - will these individuals be generating the next innovative, creative ideas, or simply serving up the status quo? And in a society where more money means more influence, how can we ensure that everyone’s voice has an opportunity to be heard?

One thing is for certain: This list demonstrates the need for progressive women’s voices to be inserted into the conversation, and the Women’s Media Center is proud to devote our work to this increasingly important goal.