Jonathan Capehart Talks About His Role As “The Guy”

A nice interview with the Washington Post’s (and MSNBC’s) Jonathan Capehart by Sean Bugg at MetroWeekly. Capehart is one of the most prominent LGBT editorial writers and pundits and Bugg does a nice job of asking him some interesting–and, at times, hard–questions.

This is what Capehart has to say about his role on the WaPo editorial page:

MW: What is your lane?

CAPEHART: When I started on the board, I was doing the environment. My editor, Fred Hiatt, asked me to start writing for Post Partisan, and so I’m primarily writing about politics. Also, I am the guy — not the only guy, but primarily the guy — who brings gay issues to the table, African-American issues to the table. If you look at my archives on Post Partisan, you’ll see there’s tons of gay stuff, probably second rank is lots of black stuff. Third probably Tea Party and Sarah Palin, but because there’s just so much material! [Laughs.]

MW: Our identities always inform how we approach things, particularly when a part of your identity is being a minority. Which actually do you think impacts more on your day-to-day work as an opinion writer, being gay or being black?

CAPEHART: I don’t know how to answer that question. I really don’t. Because when I sit at that table it depends on what we’re talking about. If it’s a gay issue, everyone around the table knows that I’m gay, so what I have to say has a certain amount of weight. If it’s an African-American issue, what I have to say has a certain amount of weight. But I don’t walk into the building thinking, ”I’m the black gay man, hear me roar.” That’s not how it works. I’m a journalist first.

And here’s his response to Bugg’s questions about the recent controversy over Capehart not challenging Valerie Jarrett when she referred to gays as having “lifestyle choices.”

There are a lot of things at work here and I understand the criticism, ”Why didn’t you jump in there, why didn’t you challenge her?” The folks who are asking that question are coming at it from the point of view of activists. My job is not to sit there and say, ”Aha! Bigot! What do you mean by that?” Where I do think they have a reasonably valid point is why didn’t I call the question right then. And yes, when Valerie said that, bells, whistles, alarms, everything went off, and I thought, ”Oh, wow.” But it was ”Oh, wow” in the sense of, ”How could she have made that mistake?” I know that’s not her, she could not possibly have meant it that way. Off on the side was our producer telling me we’ve run out of time. These are supposed to be sort of short interviews, and I knew by then I was already over way over time, and the person who’s saying [motions frantically] is the person who’s going to have to edit this video. So, I just…. I let it go.

Read the whole thing.

One Response

  1. As a member of WaPo’s editorial board, Capeheart must have participated in WaPo’s decision to endorse the NOM-supported candidate for Washington’s city council (who, luckily, was handily defeated). Why didn’t you ask him about that? Was there any disagreement about the paper’s endorsing a candidate opposed to marriage equality?

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