News | Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow Asked About Closeted News Anchors: 'If You're Gay, You Have a Responsibility to Come Out'

The UK's Guardian interviews Rachel Maddow about her unique place in American news:

Maddow"Maddow is one of the very few gay news anchors in America – well, one of the very few openly gay news anchors. Does she feel frustration towards an equally well-known news presenter who is widely assumed to be gay but has never come out? For the first time, Maddow pauses: 'I'm sure other people in the business have considered reasons why they're doing what they're doing, but I do think that if you're gay you have a responsibility to come out,' she says carefully."


In response to her quote being picked up widely, Maddow makes a statement about the Guardian interview, giver her basic beliefs about the ethics of coming out,  and denies she was talking about anyone specifically.

Says Maddow, in part:

Media-about-media today notwithstanding, I did not in my interview with The Guardian say anything about or to Mr. Cooper, nor would I. Although criticism of Mr. Cooper was intimated by The Guardian and picked up everywhere -- I did not make that criticism in the interview, nor did I imply it, nor is it what I believe.

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  1. Duh.

    Posted by: justme | Apr 25, 2011 4:55:29 PM

  2. You mean Coopie? Don't forget Shepherd Smith!

    Posted by: John | Apr 25, 2011 4:58:01 PM

  3. Maybe Coop will come out when he starts his talk show?

    Posted by: RONTEX | Apr 25, 2011 5:03:06 PM

  4. On a side note, what is up with European publications always using "Aids" instead of "AIDS"? It's an acronym, not a term. Weird.

    Posted by: luminum | Apr 25, 2011 5:04:30 PM

  5. Anderson Cooper lives his life here in NYC completely out. He is seen all over town with his partner. Everyone here knows what's up - and it's a non-issue. It's not like he is pretending to be straight. He is not what I would consider "closeted"... he is under no obligation to "announce" his sexuality becasue someone else thinks he is obligated.

    Posted by: Hells Kitchen | Apr 25, 2011 5:07:15 PM

  6. Correct.

    He (or any other closeted celebrity) is only obligated to do so when there's a particularly slow news cycle, his new autobiography is about to be released, and such an announcement coincides perfectly with a marketing plan aimed at getting him maximum positive exposure and financial return.

    Otherwise, its a strictly personal decision that should totally be left up to said celebrity.

    Posted by: AERES | Apr 25, 2011 5:11:54 PM

  7. Anderson Cooper said, and I completely agree, that people don't want to know anything at all about the news person's life. They want to feel that a blank, impartial slate is giving them their news, otherwise they question it. He was speaking of both personal life and personal politics.

    I cannot fault him for that. I hate news personalities. Just read the damn news.

    I don't want your opinion on the news. Give me the bare facts and allow me to formulate my own.

    Posted by: Rin | Apr 25, 2011 5:12:23 PM

  8. She isn't talking about coop!

    Think fox news guys!

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 25, 2011 5:16:11 PM

  9. "Everone knows" is not being out.

    I do hope everyone recalls a numebr of years back When Abnderson was interviewing Jerry Falwell on CNN and got quite incensed with him regarding the fact that gay Americnas are citizens "We pay taxes!" he said.

    The hours later he issued a "correction" declaring that he 'really" sai d"THEY pay taxes."

    So who are we to believe? Him or our lying ears.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 25, 2011 5:18:34 PM

  10. I'm not sure I agree with Maddow (as much as I love and admire her for doing what she has done). Coming out is a deeply personal experience, something that should only be done when one is ready and prepared for the consequences, good and bad. I don't believe that just because you are gay and chose to be in the journalism profession means that you have to come out if you are not ready. The rest of us (hopefully) had the opportunity to come out once we felt comfortable and right; why shouldn't they?

    Maybe the word isn't "responsibility," but privilege. News anchors are in a position to have their coming out potentially benefit millions of people who watch them, who think of them with respect, as trusted sources. Also, they have the potential to change the minds of those who hold anti-gay biases, or at the very least, question these beliefs. It is quite a position to be in, one I think would make me feel quite privileged to hold.

    Coming out is so important and one of the most powerful ways to be an activist. That said, it should only be done when one is at peace with being gay and telling people and not a moment sooner, definitely not out of obligation or because the media feels that now is the time.

    Posted by: Austin | Apr 25, 2011 5:21:40 PM

  11. The only reason I'm not opposed to Cooper's choice to remain silent about his sexuality is the fact that he frequently reports from the field. I don't think he would be able to do that in some regions were he completely out. That said, I expect him to formally come out when his talk show launches.

    Posted by: Jackson | Apr 25, 2011 5:32:44 PM

  12. I agree that his only obligation is to himself. His job is to read the news on television. He doesn't bring it up any more than Cronkite brought up his straightness. That's not his job, and it's very much his choice how much of his personal life he wants exposed to anyone.

    Posted by: Joey Y | Apr 25, 2011 5:45:41 PM

  13. I personally feel that every day a public persona (celebrity, actor, newscaster, etc.) stays in the closet for their career is another day that, by example, they say to the world "I am scared you will reject me if you know who I really am."

    Believe me, every LGBT child, teen, adult (in or out) gets that message loud and clear.

    And we all know this fear is based on reality. They will be rejected, they will be vilified and they will lose income. But they also lose self-respect, honesty and credibility. And I gotta tell you, I am so sick of them coming out AFTER they have made their nut. All proud and out now. What bull!!!

    However, I ultimately agree that it's a personal decision. But boy, I sure wish they would come out. What a powerful legacy they could leave.

    And bravo to Rachel Maddow. What a courageous person!!!

    And a final thought - all straight public persona go to events with their mate, wear wedding rings, etc., so I know what their sexuality is without them announcing it. It's just natural and a part of life. So, how about showing up to all your events with your same sex date? Then I might believe you the next time you say you don't talk about your personal life because it has nothing to with your career.

    Posted by: Bill | Apr 25, 2011 5:47:30 PM

  14. @Austin

    Even if it's your "responsibility" to come out, you surely have other responsibilities, and Maddow isn't saying that everyone should come out right now. So I can agree with her.

    Posted by: Eugene | Apr 25, 2011 6:01:35 PM

  15. He does much more than read the news. He interjects his personal opinions and feelings all the time. He has created a news show that contains off the cuff and editorial elements. He is far from a blank slate -- but he does remain closeted. Being out on the streets of NY does not count.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Apr 25, 2011 6:06:43 PM

  16. I agree with Maddow on the issue of being openly gay. David Muir and Anderson are two gay men who should state publicly despite the fact that they live with partners and do so openly. As long as they stay closeted they imply to the rest of the gay community that there is something wrong with being gay - and, of course, there isn't. The sick people are those who deny being gay is a natural part of all life and that those who admit to it should be locked up or murdered. I am proud to be openly gay and so is my husband. My husband has this great T-shirt that cracks me up every time I see it on him. It says, "I'm not gay but my husband is!" It has personal meaning to me because he was straight before we met and he had just come out of an eight year hetero marriage to his college girlfriend. The man had no thought of being intimate with another man. I was openly gay, we were coaches on a local soccer club, and I just fell for the guy. We became best friends and one day I couldn't stand it anymore and confessed my feelings. It freaked him out and we didn't talk for three days and then he came to his senses. I figured we'd just have an affair but the affair went on for a couple of months. He moved in with me. Six months later he proposed just a few days after Newsome granted marriage to gay couples. Totally caught me off-guard. So the T-shirt has sentiment. If you are a gay man or women you should never feel compelled to hide yourself. Life is simply too damn short.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Apr 25, 2011 6:08:28 PM

  17. If everybody came out tomorrow...boy would things be different in washington....coming out is not a's what you need to do now!!!....

    Posted by: alan brickman | Apr 25, 2011 6:15:08 PM

  18. Maybe Coop and Muir are just typical delusional queens waiting to make money off it....

    Posted by: alan brickman | Apr 25, 2011 6:15:51 PM

  19. not really on topic but a couple of months ago I saw AC cycling in my neighborhood (East Village) and thought, wow! WHAT beautiful hair...OH!

    Not on a fancy racing bike with any athletic style--just a cute dude with hair that turns heads, cycling down Second Avenue. I don't even have a TV so was kinda amused that I even picked up on it. But I DO have an eye for a cute dude.

    Posted by: Danny | Apr 25, 2011 6:49:51 PM

  20. He wasn't much of a "blank slate" when he was giving his opinion on how much the Jersey Shore kids get paid for appearances...

    Posted by: MadM@ | Apr 25, 2011 6:54:42 PM

  21. We actually do know about the personal lives of many of Cooper's peers. Brian Williams...married, Katie Couric...widowed but dating...Diane, married...Etc.

    Posted by: Scott | Apr 25, 2011 7:08:00 PM

  22. No one has to come out unless they themselves want to. There is no obligation to do so. It is a personal decision.

    Posted by: CGD | Apr 25, 2011 7:11:32 PM

  23. @CGD: I'm sure closet-case Republican members of Congress and state legislatures appreciate your support.

    Posted by: RyanInSacto | Apr 25, 2011 7:17:10 PM

  24. I agree that news commentators like Maddow have a responsibility...they frequently take positions for and against policies, politicians, media figures, etc. Whether they are pro- or anti- gay (or vary, depending upon the issue) the fact that they seek to influence and sway other people's opinions means that we have a right--and they have an obligation, I believe--to give us a full picture of anything we might factor in as influential, or bias, or whatever. Where someone is coming from matters when they set themselves up as an arbiter of opinion and commentator.

    I do not believe Anderson Cooper ("Ridiculist" aside) as a straight (forgive the unfortunate need for that word) newsperson (straight meaning news-only, like Shepard Smith and UNLIKE Beck, O'Reilly, Olbermann, etc.) has that obligation. When they do it, it's nice and it's helpful for the communtiy, but if they are just reporting news and not telling us how to feel about issues, including gay issues, then their sexuality can indeed become a distraction. Thomas Roberts does a lot of gay-interest stories on his show on MSNBC and everyone at work seems to agree this is because he is gay. This diminishes the objective power of those particular stories--often of injustice--because it's just "the gay guy doing gay stories." So there are ups and downs to being out as a newsperson. It's amazingly good for visibility and in that way is a positive, but to say it doesn't affect how people might view the credibilty of your coverage of gay issues--and your objectivity--or how people define you in middle America, isn't fair. People do see that first.

    So Maddow, et. al. = obligation as she says

    Cooper, Smith = helpful, but not obligated

    Posted by: breckroy | Apr 25, 2011 7:33:28 PM

  25. love her

    i have to agree for the most part, but would say if someone is in the public eye and **cares about the progress of the lgbt community** then they have an obligation to come out

    otherwise they don't - they can post headless profile & cock pics on manhunt etc & be content to live like that

    Posted by: neverstops | Apr 25, 2011 7:34:59 PM

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