Thursday, October 9, 2008

Daytime TV Delves into Politics

The fabulous Rebecca Traister has a great article in Salon about how the election is playing out on more than just the cable news networks. Political discourse has found an unlikely home: daytime talk shows. Outlets like The View, Ellen DeGeneres’s show, and the forum of cook-turned-talk-show-host Rachael Ray have become a place to speak one-on-one with the candidates and discuss the news of the day.

What’s interesting about Traister’s analysis is that it demonstrates that daytime talk shows, like other shows from a female point of view, were always thought to be distinct from discourse about politics and policy. Surely the women who watch these shows are more interested in learning about how to do crafts with their kids or celebrity gossip, the reasoning went. But something has shifted. Now the assumption is that women who watch these shows are interested in politics and policy because they affect their everyday lives.

Women, polls show, are worried about the economy. They stress about the cost of gas, retirement, and how to pay for health insurance. The way policy plays out has real implications for all of these things, so it should be no surprise that the shows are finally waking up to the fact that people want to hear and talk about political issues. The old assumptions about the viewers of these shows are falling away, and hopefully they will bring more to male-dominated political discourse.

Cross posted at Pushback.

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