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Scandal Illusions: Diversity on TV and Hillary's Upcoming Benghazi Testimony Are Not Quite Real

Scandal Illusions: Diversity on TV and Hillary's Upcoming Benghazi Testimony Are Not Quite Real

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Oct. 19 2015 6:18 PM

The Scandal Illusions

The television industry is not as diverse as it seems, Hillary's Benghazi testimony looms, and Canada votes.

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Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Capitol Hill, Jan. 23, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Slate-ghazians,

Television is becoming less white, right? Empire, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, and Jane the Virgin have brought long-overdue diversity to American TV screens. But behind the scenes, it’s a different story. Nevertheless, TV makes me feel better about America than the Benghazi committee, which has been licking its lips ahead of this week’s Grill Hillary day. Let’s start with TV, shall we?

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The TV industry pays “diversity” lots of lip service. But very little actually changes.

Aisha Harris spoke to TV staffs and examined the numbers, and she found that television writers and producers remain blindingly white. (Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of nonwhite TV writers and producers actually decreased.) In Harris’ conversations with numerous writers and producers, many also recount stories of insensitive, dismissive colleagues; blatant tokenism; and limited opportunities for advancement. Shonda Rhimes, Lee Daniels, and other nonwhite showrunners and executive producers have changed how Hollywood—and America—view the appeal of nonwhite-centered shows. But to paraphrase Rhimes, until TV staffs look the way America looks, there’s a long way to go. Harris writes convincingly about why we should see these shows as the beginning of progress, not the end.

Also on TV, Hillary will face the Benghazi committee Thursday to answer their probing questions, not to provide for grand, politically motivated theater, right?

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton will testify before the House’s committee nominally set up to investigate the 2012 attack on the Libyan city’s U.S. consulate, an attack that killed ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Nominally, because many believe the committee has baldly political goals, since three separate investigations have cleared Clinton and the State Department of wrongdoing, since these inquiries have found no evidence of ignored warnings or a cover-up, and since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said as much when he bragged that the committee had successfully tanked Hillary’s polling numbers. Still, in the run-up to the testimony, the committee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, and its ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, have traded barbs that may foreshadow Thursday’s line of questioning. Both men and Clinton will use the inquiry to score political points and influence Hillary’s chances in the 2016 presidential campaign, and the U.S. Congress wastes a great deal of its time.

Canada votes, Amazon rebuts the NYT, and an astronaut stays in space for a long, long time.

Your crack-smoking mayor,
Seth Maxon
Home page editor for nights and weekends

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