Jane Velez-Mitchell is a true-crime author, a television talking head, a lesbian, an animal activist, a recovering alcoholic and a vegan.
OK! The anchor also has views on dysfunctional families and how many children is too many, but just to take a brief detour into, you know, her job: Velez-Mitchell boosted ratings last month 74 percent over the conservative commentator who had her slot last year
beating competitors Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Campbell Brown of CNN among 25-to-54-year-olds, the viewers advertisers covet. So being openly an gay news anchor is no barrier to ratings glory.
But then CNN already knew that, thanks to Rachel Maddow, whose quickly-successful MSNBC show debuted about two months before Velez-Mitchell was (quite abruptly) pressed into service (she'd been a "glorified freelancer," according to the Times).
Velez-Mitchell's ascent was probably independent of Maddow's. But the two anchors have each drawn enough viewers to make a solid case that you can be openly gay (and even in one case a recovering alcoholic) and a huge success in TV news. It might not be easy, and it's not for everyone, but it's possible. And that's kind of heartening.
Chalk it up as a positive side effect of advertisers' otherwise annoying obsession with reaching younger viewers.