Rachel Maddow and DADT

A good analysis by the Washington Post’s media writer (and CNN host) Howard Kurtz on whether Rachel Maddow’s sexual orientation influences her interest in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Kurtz says that Maddow has long had an interest in DADT and that her interest isn’t based in a desire to be an LGBT activist. Here’s Maddow’s final quote:

Maddow accepts the fact that some critics believe she must be biased on the subject. But she offers a simple response:

“I can’t do the show as a non-gay person. I don’t have that option.”

Kurtz points out that Maddow is “one of the few openly gay television anchors” (is she really an anchor? Is two a “few”) but that she’s always had an interest in DADT and military readiness. He quotes Maddow pointing out that her coverage of DADT has less to do with her being a lesbian than her concern about the issue of gay and lesbian people being kicked out of the military. It was on Maddow’s show that DADT poster-boy Lt. Daniel Choi first came out and became an instant DADT activist.

Rather than speaking out as a lesbian, Maddow frames the battle by stressing that 12,500 gay service members have been kicked out of the military under the 1993 compromise that allows them to serve if they keep their sexuality hidden.

“We don’t really treat gay issues differently than other issues,” Maddow says. The controversy, she says, is just “a great story.”

It would have been intertesting for Kurtz to point out that LGBT activists have a love/hate relationship with Maddow, who appears to have an awkward relationship with the LGBT community.

Both Michelangelo Signorile and Pam Spaulding have criticized Maddow for not being forceful enough on LGBT issues and Maddow acknowledges she’s not all that interested in being seen as a voice for LGBT activism.

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One Response

  1. Considering Signorile’s record on transgender issues, he has zero credibility here. Pam is usually far better, but her site has a history of piling on when a big story hits, ala the Ron Gold/Bilerico flap.

    Personally, I think these folks and many others fail to understand that it’s just as, if not more, important to hear a mainstream media pundit like Maddow discuss the mainstream (i.e. non-LGBT-relevant) political stories of the day because doing so (IMHO) enhances their credibility when the focus does turn to LGBT-relevant topics.

    There are plenty of online pundits who cover all LGBT all the time. Yet, it’s just as important to see, for example, an open transperson writing about tech topics for CNET, or an openly gay columnist participating in mainstream media discussions on non-LGBT-relevant topics.

    Rachel Maddow is already doing the best thing she can do for all of us. She’s out, open, and so good at what she does that the fact that she’s gay, while known, is basically irrelevant to the success of her show. The more successful she is, the easier it will be for open LGBT’s to break into mainstream media in the future.

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