‘Researchers’ Mocked Washington Post for Article Accusing ‘Shark Week’ of Racial Bias, ‘Overwhelmingly’ Featuring ‘White Men’


So-called “researchers” are being mocked on social media for accusing Discovery’s Shark Week series of lacking diversity and overrepresenting “white men” named Mike.

Lisa Whitenack, a biology professor at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, used to watch Shark Week every summer as a kid, as she has always had a love for sharks, according to a report by Washington Post.

But one day, Whitenack apparently honed in on the reality that most of the scientists on Shark Week were men.

“I didn’t see very many people that looked like me on television,” Whitenack lamented.

So in 2020, when lockdowns went into effect in response to the Chinese coronavirus, the professor decided to use that time as an opportunity to study the series. Whitenack then reportedly led a team of researchers to examine hundreds of Shark Week episodes that aired between 1988 and 2020.

The professor wanted to find out if Shark Week was giving its audience the wrong messages about sharks, and what type of people were studying the sharks on the show.

Last month, the Public Library of Science published a study claiming that Discovery’s programming has emphasized negative messages about sharks, lacked useful messaging about shark conservation, and overwhelmingly featured white males as the experts on sharks.

Additionally, many of these scientists were named Mike.

David Shiffman, a conservationist at Arizona State University who was a co-author of the study, reportedly pointed out that Shark Week featured more white experts and commentators named “Mike” than women.

“When there are hundreds of people of color interested who work in this field, [and] when my field is more than half women, maybe it’s not an accident anymore that they’re only featuring white men,” Shiffman said.

Social media users reacted to the revelations by mocking the so-called “researchers” accusing Shark Week of racial bias. One of the reactions also came from television host Mike Rowe, who noted that he is one of those Mike’s under attack for being on the show

“As a white male named Mike who hosted Shark Week more than once, this headline caught my eye in the @washingtonpost,” he said. “I have not yet had my coffee, or time to formulate a cogent response, but in the course of promoting a new season of Dirty Jobs, (Sunday at 8pm on Discovery,) I suspect I might be asked to respond specifically to this headline.”

“If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below,” Rowe added. “Unless of course, you’re a white guy named Mike. I think we’ve all heard quite enough from you…”


“Gotta wonder how former Shark Week host, Mike Tyson, is taking the news…” Rowe concluded.

Others took to social media to declare that they initially thought the Washington Post piece was satire.

“When you say ‘trust the science’ then you follow up with ‘Shark week is racist because of white men named Mike’, you’ve officially lost all future arguments about science,” another Twitter user pointed out.

“I love you guys at the Washington Post — Diversity and inclusion are important in this time of seeking justice. This story sounds like a Babylon Bee satire. You should have taken a pass on it,” one WaPo fan advised.

“All of you at the Washington Post are a bunch of f****** m@rons. Shark Week is now racist because too many white guys talk about it ? WTF is wrong with you people ? Seriously ! There are far more important things to talk about. Do your job and Report real news ypu racists f*cks,” one Twitter user reacted.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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