Media Matters

Glitter and Be Gay

Some candid talk about Anderson Cooper's new ratings.

By 7.6.12

Send to Kindle

I was immersed in the Supreme Court's decision on health care when Anderson Cooper upstaged Chief Justice John Roberts with the announcement that he is gay. Pretty much everyone in America was as stunned as I was. What a week. I recently learned that Truman Capote was also gay. You just never can tell these days.

The New York Times story says that Cooper's "announcement makes him the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television," leading to a lot of speculation by viewers about who the lesser known gays on TV news might be. I have my own hunches and, thanks to Cooper coming out at last, I now feel at liberty to reveal them:

Walter Cronkite was forced to remain in the closet lest it be known that he was a transsexual who spent much of his time off camera in women's closets. He was famous for doing a female strip tease at parties, but few realized that he also often dressed up like Carmen Miranda for a night on the town. As for Chet Huntley and David Brinkley -- "Good night, David"…"Good night, Chet." Need I say more?  

Rachel Maddow has made it not just OK but fashionable to be a gay talk show host, so one wonders how long it will be until David Letterman and Jay Leno finally fess up to their own sexual identities. The pressure is now on for gays in positions of power on TV to consider coming out, especially those with shows in ratings trouble, as Brian Stelter writes in the Times on Cooper's announcement. Look for Conan O'Brien, whose late night show is not doing too well, to make a startling announcement shortly.

Stelter notes, "The daytime talk format seemingly demands hosts to come forward with the personal details of their lives." Ellen DeGeneres broke TV's "lesbo glass ceiling," as TV industry insiders call it, and it didn't hurt her any, nor Rosie O'Donnell. Maddow is adamant on the subject, telling the Times: "I do think that if you're gay you have a responsibility to come out," which is sure to help push gays out of the apparently crowded video closet. Are you listening, Matt Lauer? Al Roker? Had only Ann Curry claimed she was gay, she might still be the Today co-host.

A New York Times op-ed piece notes that Entertainment Weekly discusses "the new art of coming out" among stars on both coasts, presaging a flood of TV journalists rushing to reveal their gayness. It is not unlikely that agencies handling television journalists and talk show hosts are encouraging their clients, whether gay or straight, to declare their sexual leanings ASAP and increase their marketability.

CNN may well be a hotbed of gay anchors, according to whispers around the water coolers at Fox News. Larry King, despite his many marriages, could be latently gay, and his five ex-wives just an elaborate cover-up to keep Larry's real sex life from the public. Ditto Piers Morgan, King's flirty replacement, who so far has declined to state his sexual preference. I have not yet heard any rumors about Wolf Blitzer, so we will just have to wait for an announcement from Wolf.

It now seems clear that Anderson Cooper is the Rosa Parks of gay TV anchors.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

Gerald Nachman is the author of Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Raised on Radio and Right Here On Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan's America. He is currently working on a book about the great Broadway musical show-stoppers.