Jane Velez-Mitchell possesses the three P’s of success: Passion, personality and a point. The New York Times labels her: Author, activist, talking head and vegan.
Is your gaydar pinging like mad? Good, because they also label her "lesbian," which makes Jane Velez-Mitchell the second openly lesbian anchor to rev up prime-time news ratings in the last few months.
Last autumn, the California native received a call from CNN Woldwide executive vice president Ken Jautz, asking her to host her own news show in the 7:00 slot that was being vacated by Fox-bound Glenn Beck. The offer didn’t shock Velez-Mitchell; she’d been on the short list for some time after her growing popularity as a fill-in on various cable news networks.
What surprised her was the lead time. She needed to be in New York to start her new show, Issues with Jane Valez-Mitchell, on Monday. Her response? "Great, because I have a lot of issues."
She also has a lot of opinions. And in the young demographic that translates into ratings. Last month her show — a catch-all for daily news, covering everything from plane crashes to politics to women who have eight babies — had 596,000 viewers.
I’ve joked before that Rachel Maddow‘s stellar ratings and universal popularity signify that lesbians are the go-to girls when you need a strong, informed opinion. While Jane Velez-Mitchell’s success does seem to support my silly opinion, I think it actually signifies something deeper.
In the New York Times piece, Velez-Mitchell’s sexuality is noted in the first sentence.
There is no mention of Maddow, but you’d have to live under or rock (or be mainlining Fox News — which is kind of similar to living under a rock) not to make the association.
It’s foolish to say that being a lesbian is the key to mega-success as a talking head, but it’s encouraging — and true! — to say the exact opposite: being out is not a barrier to mainstream media success.
Maddow’s accomplishments aren’t a fluke; they’re not happening inside a queer-friendly vaccum. Velez-Mitchell is out, and Headline News ratings are up 74 percent over the former host.
We all hope for the day when lesbians and bisexuals are so commonplace in the entertainment industry that news of a woman’s sexuality isn’t news at all. Until then, Jane Velez-Mitchell’s lede in the New York Times is promising.
It kind of makes me wonder: Do you think they’ll show Bill O’Reilly’s face when they give his job to a lesbian?