I’m starting to think that Rachel Maddow has an issue or professional discomfort with taking on publicly anti-gay figures on her show. It’s an oddity, given 1) she’s out and has a high-profile; and 2) her fellow MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann, has been extremely forceful as an ally on the issue by comparison. She’s spoken at length about the debacle of Prop 8, so one would assume that if given the opportunity, Maddow would address the issue with well-known homophobes.
The reticence to take on agents of intolerance surfaced in a recent interview with former GOP clown car occupant, rapist/murderer-releasing Baptist minister-without-a-theology-degree Mike Huckabee. (Think Progress):
Maddow was notably silent on the issue of gay rights when interviewing former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. On Tuesday, Huckabee had insisted that gay rights and civil rights were totally different because gay rights activists’ “skulls” weren’t getting “cracked.” On Wednesday morning, Huckabee claimed that Prop. 8 “did not prohibit” gay marriage; it “simply affirmed that which already has and forever has existed,” he said.
During the seven-minute interview last night, however, Maddow never forced Huckabee to defend these claims. Instead, Maddow repeatedly asked him about his future presidential plans and speculated about the influence of the Christian Right in the GOP.
Huckabee has a long history of making statements that indicate an ignorant worldview when it comes to LGBTs — as Think Progress noted, Huckabee has equated homosexuality with bestiality and necrophilia, said being gay is a choice, wants sodomy recriminalized, and would like to see gay couples banned from adopting, and prevent same-sex partners from receiving spousal survival benefits.
Now here comes the interesting part to discuss here in the coffeehouse. Maddow was contacted by ThinkProgress to ask why she avoided LGBT issues with Huck. Her response? See it after the jump. Rachel Maddow:
I weighed whether or not to ask him about his anti-gay views, but I really don’t care about them very much. Huckabee is a doctrinaire anti-gay theocratic social conservative whose views are well-known and heartfelt. I also probably wouldn’t bother asking Sarah Palin about her anti-gay views if I had the opportunity to interview her — it’s just not the most interesting or newsworthy (or ridiculous) thing about either of them.
For me that is a problem. High profile figures like Huckabee and Palin too often get a pass for beliefs (ones held by too many Americans) that result in a measure like Prop 8 passing. IMHO, these views must be challenged as often as possible — and Rachel Maddow has a platform most of us do not have.
That she doesn’t find the views interesting is disturbing (a majority of voters in California just removed a civil right granted to a group of tax-paying citizens by the state of California!). Views articulated by Huckabee, a former governor and likely 2012 presidential candidate, on his belief that discrimination should be legal against any group of law-abiding citizens IS A SERIOUS ISSUE. The fact that the airwaves are bombarded with ignorance and outright lies by the likes of Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Rachel’s buddy Pat Buchanan means the scales are seriously out of balance, and you’d think Maddow would recognize that the issue is “newsworthy” for a host of reasons; you obviously don’t have to be a lesbian to get the picture.
Perhaps Rachel needs some coaching from KO on the matter.
UPDATE: I found the reaction of some of my readers interesting and distressing in a way — they want to give a pass to Maddow for playing nice with Huckabee (“conservatives”). I didn’t say scream or yell at the man, simply ask him about comments he made on the record. She’s there to do commentary and reporting. Huckabee is there to SELL A BOOK — does that mean he gets to pick the question? Nope. A book tour doesn’t grant a political figure immunity from questions about his political views.
I guess if Jesse Helms or Strom Thurmond toured with a self-serving book about politics and came on her show, these same people going soft on Maddow wouldn’t think it’s relevant to talk about those late senators’ bigoted worldviews that informed their political decisions? This is a big problem I have with a lot of the media talking heads who are more concerned about “the get” than journalism; mind you these are the same figures that poo-poo the blogosphere for lack of ethics. Huckabee’s public views on legislating civil rights at the ballot box is indeed a relevant issue if he intends to ask Americans for his vote in 2012, and particularly if he’s continuing to sell his brand of social conservatism as a viable political commodity.