British journalist John Gapper received loads of criticism yesterday after describing Rachel Maddow as a “chirpy gay liberal.” Feeling a unfairly attacked, Gapper took to his blog today to explain his comments, which he says were woefully misconstrued:
One is the meaning of the word “chirpy”. To me, and to most British people, chirpy means lively and fun. I used it because one of Ms Maddow’s appealing qualities is that she is humorous and cheerful, a welcome contrast of the self-aggrandising, bombastic style of various of her male counterparts (I will not mention any names, for fear of yet more emails).
Unfortunately, a lot of US readers seem to have taken chirpy to mean bird-brained and irritating, so they got annoyed. That was not what I meant.
The second problem was my describing her as gay when I did not mention the sexuality of anyone else in the piece (or indeed my own). In fact, Ms Maddow is gay, and openly so, as noted in some recent articles about her, including this one in the New York Times.
I included it because I thought it said something interesting about the US culture wars (yes the ones that I strayed into) that a gay woman was now one of the most popular talk show hosts on American television.
Well, it’s not that interesting – all the right-wing folk watch Fox News, anyway, so they may not even know Maddow exists. (Well, except Tim Graham, who’s afraid of lesbians.)