The lack of women on The Economist's list of the most influential economists in 2014 points to the larger problem of how women are severely underrepresented in economic discussions in the media.
The Economist magazine released a list ranking the top 25 "influential economists" for 2014. The magazine's ranking was created by Appinions, a startup company, that tracked economists based on "how much attention was paid to their utterances in the mainstream media, the blogosphere and in social media over a 90-day period."
The list was quickly met with controversy for failing to include women, with critics highlighting the exclusion of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. Responding to the controversy, The Economist wrote that criticism of the list "misunderstands how and why it was put together" and that it was "not a ranking of the most influential economists of 2014, but a list of those economists who got most attention in the last quarter of 2014."
But the controversy surrounding the apparent lack of women featured in The Economist's list points to a larger problem -- the lack of gender representation featured in economic discussions in the media. The Economist's study calculated influence based on media attention, a methodology that ignores the fact that media overwhelmingly turn to male economists, leaving women severely underrepresented during economic discussions in the media.
A Media Matters analysis of weekday evening cable news over one year found that female economists accounted for less than ten percent of total economist appearances throughout the year while male economists dominated over 90 percent of weekday evening cable news appearances. It also showed that men in general were hosted significantly more frequently than women to discuss the economy, with women accounting for only 28 percent of all guests in segments on the topic.
For a "lame duck" politician who's supposed to be licking his wounds after the Democratic Party's steep midterm losses, President Obama these days probably doesn't mind scanning the headlines each morning. Instead of confirming the slow motion demise so many in the pundit class had mapped out for him, the headlines paint a picture of a president, and a country, in many ways on the rebound:
That's probably more good news for Obama in one month than he had in the previous three combined.
And that selection of headlines doesn't cover news of the most recent smooth and efficient enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, the announcement of Obama's executive action to deal with the languishing issue of immigration, his high-profile endorsement of net neutrality, or the United States' landmark agreement with China to confront climate change.
As for Obama's approval rating, it has remained steady in recent months, just as it has for virtually all of 2014. But aren't lame ducks supposed to tumble after tough midterm defeats, the way President George W. Bush did right after the 2006 votes?
Meanwhile, the assumption that Republicans had boxed Obama in politically via their midterm momentum and would be able to bully him around (impeachment! A government shutdown!) hasn't yet come to fruition. To date, their main response to the immigration executive order that Obama issued has been for Republicans to cast a symbolic vote of disapproval. (i.e. Obama called their bluff.)
Already the bloom seems to be coming off the GOP's win. "According to the survey, 50 percent of Americans believe the GOP taking control of the House and the Senate next year will be bad for America," CNN reported this week.
None of this is to say that Obama's surging or that paramount hurdles don't remain on the horizon. But some recent developments do undercut a widely held consensus in the Beltway press that Obama's presidency effectively ended with the midterms and that his tenure might be viewed as a failed one.
Right after the election, a November Economist editorial announced, "Mr. Obama cannot escape the humiliating verdict on his presidency." Glimmers of hope after the midterms were no reason to think Obama had "somehow crawled out of the dark place that voters put him," the Washington Post assured readers. (Post columnist Dana Milbank has recently tagged Obama as a hapless "bystander" who's "turning into George W. Bush.") And a McClatchy Newspapers headline declared, "President Obama Is Now Truly A Lame Duck."
But as the facts on the ground now change, many in the press seem reluctant to drop its preferred script and adjust to the headlines that suggest Obama's second term is not shaping up to be the wreck so many pundits hinted it would be.
Following President Obama's April 29 press conference, media figures on all three major cable news channels and elsewhere asserted that the press conference was "boring." Several commentators had similarly concluded that Obama's March 24 press conference was insufficiently entertaining, echoing Matt Drudge.