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Hillary’s Arkansas HIV history = Nancy Reagan’s silence

A closer look at first lady’s record in early days of epidemic

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Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade, Hillary Clinton AIDS

Hillary Clinton recently criticized HIV disclosure laws, but she was silent when her husband signed one. (Photo by Gino Santa Maria; courtesy Bigstock)

It cannot be said that during her nine years as first lady of Arkansas that Hillary Clinton started a local conversation about AIDS — her advocacy had such a low-key volume that no one heard it.

Now that the dust-up over her grossly uninformed statement about Nancy Reagan starting a national discussion about AIDS has subsided, it’s relevant to examine her HIV record, such as it is, from her Little Rock years.

Remarkably, during the 1980s when their husbands held power and the AIDS epidemic created crises at every level of government, as thousands of gay men and others suffered and died, neither first lady left a paper trail of actions or statements addressing the grief, tremendous fear and stigma we lived with.

As a member of the ACT UP/Presidential Project from late 1991 to the November 1992 election, I kept thick files on Gov. Bill Clinton’s campaign and reporting on his HIV record. Nothing in my archive includes any reference to Hillary’s HIV record and online searches fail to locate any relevant source materials.

If she took action or spoke up prior to campaigning against George H. W. Bush, it went unreported or duly noted.

Hillary held no elective office while her husband served as governor but she was no shrinking violet when it came to injecting herself into public policy matters and state government, and fighting for causes she believed in.

In 1977, then-attorney general Bill Clinton endorsed modernization of the state’s homosexual and bestial anti-sodomy statute and as governor made no public comments calling for repeal of the law. Same goes for Hillary. When in 1991 courageous local Democratic politician Vic Snyder, who eventually served as a representative in Congress, attempted to erase the law from the books, neither Clinton offered him support.

Newspaper accounts from 1991 offer details on how police entrapped men cruising for sex at highway rest stops and other locations, and after they were arrested and charged under the sodomy law, their names and home addresses were published for all to read.

Arkansas’s sodomy statue was in effect until the Supreme Court struck down such laws across the land, but while it was on the books it was vigorously used by prosecutors against LGBT persons.

Compounding the stigma and fear of gays and our sexual relations, and the added burden of HIV transmission stemming from outrageous neglect of prevention and education programs, Gov. Clinton in November 1989 signed one of the worst criminal transmission laws in the nation.

The law made it a Class A felony for a poz person to have penetrative sex with another person without first disclosing their HIV status. If convicted, sentences required no less than six years and a maximum of 30 years in prison.

This law is still on the books and an unknown number of persons convicted under it currently are inmates in penitentiaries serving time.

Public records obtained from Arkansas prosecutors by advocates affiliated with Sero, a nonprofit of HIV poz folks and allies fighting stigma and injustice, while limited in scope because several prosecutors refused to release responsive records citing state sunshine law allowing officials to deny access to public records if the requester lives out of state.

The Sero organization is based in Pennsylvania.

Of caseloads made public for about a dozen persons, the average sentence meted out was 10 years and three people got 20 years while only one received six years in prison. I believe these cases represent a mere fraction of all convictions in Arkansas.

After extensive searching, I’ve come across nothing showing Hillary opposed the HIV criminalization law before her husband signed it or after going into effect.

Over the course of their final nine years of holding the reins of power in Little Rock and of widespread HIV and sodomy criminal enforcement, Hillary expended no political capital on us or our concerns.

Just how missing-in-action on AIDS were the Clintons up to September 1990?

An extended editorial at the time in Little Rock’s alternative weekly The Spectrum headlined “Time For An AIDS Policy” completely omits the Clintons, indicating they weren’t known for doing the right thing on HIV matters.

It noted: “The incidence of reported AIDS in Arkansas is up 158 percent over last year … by the end of September, there will be 147 cases on the books as compared to 57 this same time last year. … The Department of Health Services just completely cut Medicaid benefits to 10 of 13 Arkansans who take AZT … The Arkansas Department of Corrections simply failed to reapply for its grants that paid for a full-time AIDS education coordinator … Blacks in Arkansas have an alarmingly disproportionate incidence of AIDS; about 23 percent of AIDS cases are among blacks who make up 16.3 percent of the population.”

With primaries underway, the Clinton for President Committee in early March 1992 issued a one-page position paper on AIDS that is noteworthy because it lacks any compelling achievement on his part directly assisting people with AIDS or those at-risk.

It reads: “As chairman of the National Governor’s Association, he formed the first working group of governors to develop a policy on AIDS … In 1986, under Governor Clinton’s leadership, the Arkansas State Board of Education adoption a resolution calling for the ‘development of AIDS educations skills … to be integrated into the Health Education Course Content Guide’. “

Granted, a panel and a resolution connected to Bill during the first five years of the plague are something, they’re exceedingly underwhelming and pitiful and force me to wonder where was Hillary and did she do a damn thing about HIV in Little Rock?

In her apology after her erroneous Nancy Reagan comment generated pain, Hillary wrote:

“I’ve always tried to do my part in the fight against this disease, and the stigma and pain that accompanies it. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, when my husband accepted the nomination for president, we marked a break with the past by having two HIV-positive speakers — the first time that ever happened at a national convention.”

Echoes of Bill’s 1992 campaign AIDS position paper — long on platitudes, short on substance. Given how abysmal her HIV Arkansas record is, Hillary’s apology omitting anything she may have done prior to the presidential campaign is quite telling.

A four-page policy assessment paper from the Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force in February 1992 to the Human Rights Campaign about the state’s AIDS legislation and response to the epidemic offers more on the issue.

On top of the bad laws, sodomy arrests and prosecutions and lack of initiative from the Clintons, the task force shed light regarding no state funds appropriated for AIDS: “[O]nly federal money was spent here until 1991 [when three HIV educators for community-based organizations for the entire state were hired] . . . $30,000 in 1992 was money to be used for testing and counseling that the federal government quit sending and it came from the Governor’s Emergency Release Fund.”

Most galling, Hillary said: “We should call on states to reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws.”

If only Bill hadn’t signed Arkansas’s criminalization law she would have one less state to call on to amend, maybe even repeal, these lock-’em-up laws.

What’s needed now, just as we’ve weighed Mrs. Reagan’s HIV resume, is to apply the same degree of accountability to Mrs. Clinton especially during her Little Rock years.

Michael Petrelis is a longtime San Francisco-based blogger focused on AIDS and LGBT issues.

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. uhhuhh

    April 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Quick summary: “My Google search for online information from 40 years ago didn’t turn up anything positive or negative, so I’m going to characterize her record as ‘abysmal’ because I’m a hack.”

    • JackNasty

      April 5, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      FYI, Michael Petrellis did considerable research on AIDS policy and gay rights in Arkansas in 1992 during Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign for part of ACT UP Presidential Project . Anyone reading his research about the Clintons then would not have been surprised by the Clintons betrayal of gay voters in 1993 and 1996 with their support for the ban on travel for people with HIV , Don’t Ask, and DOMA.

      Disagree with Michael Petrellis analysis and conclusions about Hillary Clinton, if you like, but you cannot fault the depth of his research unless you want to look foolish.

      • uhhuhh

        April 5, 2016 at 9:56 pm

        Actually, the person who looks foolish is the one who characterizes Hillary Clinton’s record as “abysmal” based on the following: “Nothing in my archive includes any reference to Hillary’s HIV record and online searches fail to locate any relevant source materials.”

        Absence of evidence doesn’t even establish that she was silent, let alone that she had an “absymal” record.

        Hack piece.

        • JackNasty

          April 5, 2016 at 10:44 pm

          With the Clintons, it always depends on what the meaning of the word is is.

          The lack any record of Hillary speaking out for relief for AIDS in the 1980a and early 1990s is indeed evidence she said and did nothing. Petrellis was there. People who spoke out were few and far between. They were noticed because of their courage. No public official spoke in public about AIDS without being noticed for it.

          • Rick Rosendall

            April 6, 2016 at 8:41 am

            The present election campaign amounts to a war for the future of this country. We can lose it to the intolerant, nihilistic right if we spend our time re-fighting old battles. There are no perfect choices, but Hillary is best suited to win and to work effectively as president. The Kochs and others on the right want Bernie to get the nomination because they know he would be easier to beat.

          • JackNasty

            April 6, 2016 at 9:32 am

            So the Koch brothers are responsible for Bernie being able to connect with voters?

            Rick, I didn’t know you had a tinfoil hat.

          • JackNasty

            April 6, 2016 at 9:58 am

            I agree, this campaign is about the future of our country. The Clintons history of chronic lying, supporting wars, deregulating banks, supporting trade agreements that export jobs, and jumping onto the anti-gay bandwagon, gives us a fair idea of what to expect from them in the future.

          • Rick Rosendall

            April 6, 2016 at 10:34 am

            That is not an honest summary of the Clintons’ history, but propaganda to justify your prior conclusion. If you want to convince me, insist on giving her credit for the good she has done, and explain why the negatives outweigh the positives. You don’t even try.

          • Brian's Ions

            April 6, 2016 at 3:03 pm

            Can’t wait for summer— when Dems kiss and make up… and focus on greater dangers.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8-kSUqXlyQ

          • BruceMajors4DC

            April 10, 2016 at 8:33 am

            And a riot at the convention.

          • Rick Rosendall

            April 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

            This is what passes for serious argument in some quarters: I make one statement, and you tendentiously extrapolate from it something I did not say. Of course Bernie has tapped into voter frustration. But that is not a plan. For months he has been saying we need to break up the big banks, yet he doesn’t know how he would do it.

          • BruceMajors4DC

            April 11, 2016 at 7:57 am

            This is actually a rare Blade op ed worth reading. Most are sadly boring regurgitated Democrat press releases. It’s affirmative action for retarded gays.

          • BruceMajors4DC

            April 10, 2016 at 8:32 am

            The Koch brothers were for gay marriage a decade before the Clintons.

        • MPetrelis

          April 7, 2016 at 4:17 pm

          Please share with me articles and such showing Hillary was against the sodomy and HIV laws in Arkansas or that she initiated a local discussion on our issues as First Lady of the state?

      • uhhuhh

        April 5, 2016 at 10:01 pm

        As for DADT and DOMA, do you have a link to a picture of the magic wand that Bill Clinton refused to wave and make veto-proof congressional majorities disappear?

        Oh, never mind. Far-left activists also think Bernie Sanders can snap his fingers and conjure up a magic unicorn for everyone, so there’s clearly a reality gap.

        • JackNasty

          April 5, 2016 at 10:35 pm

          A president can vigorously oppose legislation. He can also allow to become law without his signature. The Clintons endorsed the ban on travel for people with HIV, Don’t Ask, and DOMA.

          The only thing the Clintons have ever fought for is their own access to power. They really did put up a good fight during the impeachment.

          • BruceMajors4DC

            April 10, 2016 at 6:46 am

            They are two hundred million dollars richer now, with multi-million dollar estates in DC and NY, and married Chelsea off to a hedge fund millionaire. So the motive is obvious.

        • BruceMajors4DC

          April 10, 2016 at 7:05 am

          Obama seems to have raised debt limits and signed omnibus spending bills even when Republicans controlled both House and Senate. I guess the Clintons aren’t competent at being executives. Maybe that’s why State Department employees get murdered on Hillary’s watch and then she forgets it happened when she makes a speech.

          • Rick Rosendall

            April 10, 2016 at 7:47 am

            Never mind the 13 embassy attacks during GBW’s presidency.

          • BruceMajors4DC

            April 10, 2016 at 8:30 am

            “Eve did it too” is the oldest moral fallacy. Don’t know that Bush lied to dead soldiers’ mom’s. Maybe he isn’t as sociopathic.

      • MPetrelis

        April 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        Much appreciate your comment, JackNasty. Here’s hoping Hillary fans inform us any steps she took against the Arkansas queer-specific sodomy law or the HIV criminalization statute. Did she do or say anything prior to 1992 on our issues in Little Rock?

    • MPetrelis

      April 7, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Happy to read any info you have online regarding Hillary’s HIV and gay record from her years in Little Rock. It may be out there and not turning up in Google searches.

    • BruceMajors4DC

      April 10, 2016 at 6:41 am

      As a rather unthinking off the shelf Democrat Hillary Clinton couldn’t offer a solution to the AIDS crisis since the main solution was to eliminate FDA regulations that prevent new drugs and treatments from coming to market quickly, and the regulatory state is the proudest achievement of Democrats. Without the regulatory state, the Clinton Foundation couldn’t get bribes for selling regulatory waivers or punitive new regulations aimed at the donors’ competitors .

      • Rick Rosendall

        April 10, 2016 at 7:51 am

        If you’ve decided at the outset that you will do nothing but heap scorn on someone, you can cherry pick and tendentiously interpret as you like. I suppose it’s as good a pastime as playing bridge or watching baseball.

        • BruceMajors4DC

          April 10, 2016 at 8:45 am

          I just want her in prison where the world will be safer and she can have all she can eat.

          • Rick Rosendall

            April 10, 2016 at 2:25 pm

            Your evident serene conviction regarding her criminality is based on a mashup from 25 years of Republican slanders. Given how the Gowdy committee embarrassed itself over 11 hours a few months back in trying to wound her, your wishes are unlikely to be fulfilled.

          • BruceMajors4DC

            April 11, 2016 at 7:54 am

            It’s clear she is a criminal minimally criminal negligence, as well as a life long fabricator and grifter. That incompetent Republicans allow your crony party to remain in power doesn’t make your party any less criminal.

  2. Rick Rosendall

    April 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Mikey, considering that I saw you proudly wearing an “Impeach Clinton” button on Election Night in 1992, I do not consider you amenable to reason on the Clintons. In any case, Hillary is running for her own first term, not Bill’s third. She has been a two-term senator and Secretary of State since then. Regarding Nancy Reagan, I am happy to be an officer of the group (Mattachine) that brought to light the evidence of her refusal to help Rock Hudson when he was in extremis 31 years ago; but I cannot get exercised over Hillary having been overgenerous to a dead lady at a funeral. And let’s not get into a macabre competition over who has a longer list of dead friends who were stolen from us by that disease. As Tony Kushner said, the world only spins forward. We have new challenges and threats to face. Among other things, Hillary launched a global LGBT initiative as Sec. of State. That is being built on, including by our openly gay ambassador to the Dominican Republic, notwithstanding the crude bigotry being hurled at him by the Catholic cardinal there. It’s always something. If it’s any comfort, I don’t think you’re a hack. Sometimes you are a zealot. But you have done much useful work.

    • Brian's Ions

      April 5, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      So, Rick, do you have a link for more on that bit of history? I take it that was after the famous RR/WH-to-Rock phone call? Any mythology to bust about that?
      —–
      **
      Regarding Nancy Reagan, I am happy to be an officer of the group (Mattachine) that brought to light the evidence of her refusal to help Rock Hudson when he was in extremis 31 years ago…**

    • MPetrelis

      April 7, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      I appreciate your comments, Rick. My primary objective here is to get folks to look at Hillary’s silence on gay and HIV issues during her time as First Lady of Arkansas.

    • BruceMajors4DC

      April 10, 2016 at 6:56 am

      So Petrelis has been a critic of Clinton crimes – selling access to government (beginning with First Lady of Arkansas Hillary being paid to sit on the WalMart board), abusing women and then intimidating them into silence, having Sandy Berger hide classified documents before the technology existed to delete them from private servers – since 1992. Unlike all the climbers in DC who hope to get a Hillary job or be invited to a Hillary party if they ho the line.

      • Rick Rosendall

        April 10, 2016 at 7:45 am

        Hey Mikey, lovely company you’re keeping! Bruce, it must get lonely being the only person in D.C. not blinded by personal ambition.

        • BruceMajors4DC

          April 10, 2016 at 8:28 am

          They are a minority. West of the Anacostia river. Most DC people are cashing a check to soldier on for their chosen Fuehrer. That’s why so much of the rest of the country, in both establishment parties, wants your heads on sticks.

  3. MPetrelis

    April 7, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    One cannot deny that her recent apology and explanation after her Nancy Reagan remarks starts with her stating her views form 1992 onward. What, if anything, did she do to help LGBT people and HIV poz folks in Little Rock?

    • BruceMajors4DC

      April 10, 2016 at 6:52 am

      Bernie fans may want to research another piece of Hillary 80s history. People who were there say Hillary was the tie breaking vote on the WalMart board to end WalMart’s policy to buy American and to shift to Chinese imports.

  4. LesbianTippingHabits

    April 12, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Hillary is also not a generous tipper.

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Opinions

The future of lesbian bars

Resolve to support our queer spaces in 2022

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lockdown zone, gay news, Washington Blade

This New Year, I hope you wish for more lesbian bars across the country. The story of lesbian bars in the U.S. has been slightly tragic of late: as of January 2021, there were only 15 clubs or bars dedicated to queer women across the country. 

That’s right—only 15. Across all 50 states. 

In Washington, D.C., my hometown, A League of Her Own stands out as the only lesbian bar in the city, dedicated to queer women. Located in Adams Morgan, A League of Her Own, also known as ALOHO, is a small mecca for queer ladies to pass through, socialize, and flirt. ALOHO is a chic gathering point for all queer folk, with posters of softball players dotting the walls and gender neutral signs lying about. 

Several years ago, another lesbian bar called Phase 1 existed in Southeast, where queer women could slam eight balls in pool games and engage in raunchy yet ever-so-hot jello wrestling competitions. 

Unfortunately, Phase 1 shut its doors in 2016. 

So what explains the closure of so many lesbian bars, while bars for gay men continue to flourish? Perhaps many queer women view gay bars as a space for their own as well, whereas gay men view lesbian bars as less of a place for them to socialize. 

Either way, we need to give support to lesbian bars now more than ever. Tokens of support can take many forms. 

For one, make sure to socialize in spaces dedicated to queer ladies. There are three lesbian bars in New York City: Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), Gingers in Brooklyn (363 5th Ave.), and Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.). Next time you visit the Big Apple, make sure to give these three spots some love. Maybe drag your experimenting bi friend to these locations. Or your pansexual roommate. 

Back in D.C., you can buy unisex shirts in A League of Her Own’s merchandise store, available online. 

Proceeds will go toward funding the bar, and making sure it stays afloat, especially during this COVID economy. 

Most of all, I hope you encourage your queer lady friends to keep on frequenting queer lady destinations. After all, there is only one thing that will keep lesbian bars afloat—and that is attendance. 

I, for one, will be frequenting many lesbian destinations this new year.  

Isaac Amend is a Yale graduate and participated in National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ documentary. He also is a member of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and contributes regularly to the Blade. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @isaacamend.

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Opinions

Breaking barriers as an out trans ‘Jeopardy’ champion

Amy Schneider’s run inspires us all

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Amy Schneider (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television)

“When was the last time anybody said ‘wow!’” a friend asked me.

I couldn’t remember the last time anyone I know (including me) had any “Wow!” moments. Until I heard about trans woman and software engineering manager Amy Schneider’s 29-game winning streak on “Jeopardy.”

You wouldn’t think anything could dispel our COVID exhaustion and political divisiveness. Yet, news about a champion on “Jeopardy,” a quiz show that has been on TV since 1964, has broken through our gloom.

In our culture, there are few things that everyone loves. But, “Jeopardy” is beloved by many, from theater geeks to 80-year-old sports nuts. A progressive friend was over the moon when his brother was a “Jeopardy” contestant. A buddy, a hetero (non-Trump) Republican, is a “Jeopardy” fanatic and a gay librarian pal is a “Jeopardy” freak.

Many of us daydream about being on “Jeopardy.” But we know that we wouldn’t have a chance on this legendary quiz show with its deceptively simple format: You give the answer to the (often incredibly hard) clues in the form of a question. You have to have a strategic military commander’s and a world-class athlete’s coordination: so you can press the buzzer to answer the clue.

The game’s categories run the gamut from opera to mountain ranges. Most of us, mere mortals, would be lucky to know even one category in the first round of the game. Let alone in the “Double Jeopardy” round or the “Final Jeopardy” clue. I might jump on clues about Katharine Hepburn movies or M&Ms. But that would be it for me.

It’s exciting to watch a “Jeopardy” contestant become a long-running champion. You marvel at the player’s intelligence, endurance, and nerve. It’s thrilling when the contestant on a winning-streak is part of your community.

Many of us LGBTQ “Jeopardy” fans are thrilled by Schneider’s record-setting winning streak. As I write this, Schneider has won more than $1 million in 29 games of “Jeopardy.” She is the fifth millionaire in “Jeopardy” history, and only the fourth player to reach this milestone in the regular season. She has won more than any other female “Jeopardy” contestant.

Schneider, like so many of us, doesn’t want to be defined by her gender identity or sexuality. Schneider’s life is multi-faceted; she has many interests. Schneider lives with her girlfriend Genevieve. They have a cat named Meep.

Yet, Schneider doesn’t want to hide that she’s trans. On “Jeopardy,” Schneider brilliantly dealt with this dilemma. She didn’t make a big deal about being out. She just wore the trans Pride flag pin.

“It was something that I wanted to get out there and to show my pride in while not making it the focus of what I was doing there,” Schneider told the New York Times. “Because I was just there to answer trivia questions and win money.”

As a cisgender lesbian, I can’t speak to how Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy” streak feels to transgender people.

But, as a trans ally, I’m cheering for Schneider. Kudos for her bravery! At a time when many states are passing anti-trans laws, it takes guts to be out on TV and the Internet.

Few things are as mainstream as “Jeopardy.” I bet that many “Jeopardy” viewers who are frightened at the idea of trans people, will become more comfortable with transgender people after watching Schneider on the popular quiz show. Because folks on TV come into our living and bedrooms and we feel as if we know them after watching them for a while.

“Amy looks like everybody else,” my neighbor said when I told her Schneider was trans. “She doesn’t act odd. She’s not strange.”

Transgender people encounter violence and discrimination in everything from housing to health care to employment.

I know Schneider’s “Jeopardy” triumph won’t end transphobia. But her winning streak will go a long way toward jumpstarting a change in hearts and minds.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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SCARY: Tucker Carlson now the conscience of GOP

Cruz bows down, kisses ring of Fox host

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Tucker Carlson (Screen capture via Fox on YouTube)

The Republican Party has sunk to a new low, hard to do, when a sleazebag like Tucker Carlson is now their conscience. Seeing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groveling before him is laughable, disgusting, and frightening all at the same time. 

As reported in Rolling Stone, Cruz said, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.” Then “Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.

Carlson has made a career of being a pompous commentator. Interestingly he worked at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, before finally landing at Fox in 2009. According to his Wikipedia page he went to Trinity College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and Carlson’s Trinity yearbook describes him as a member of the “Dan White Society,” an apparent reference to the American political assassin who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. After college, Carlson tried to join the CIA, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father, who advised him that “they’ll take anybody.” Reading this clearly raised my opinion of the CIA and based on what we see in some media today I agree with Carlson’s father on his view of journalism. 

When you have a moment of silence in the House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives on Jan. 6 and only two Republicans show up, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and her father Dick Cheney, the former vice president, one understands the influence Carlson has on the GOP. The rest were afraid of being criticized on-air by him or lambasted by Trump. 

Dick Cheney remarked on the GOP, “It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.” He spoke to ABC News saying, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 

There is a leadership void in the Republican Party today. Their so-called leaders are afraid to say what they think if it differs in any way from Trumpism or Carlson’s view of the world, which requires total fealty to Trump. He found a home on Fox where he can lie with impunity and have millions believe his lies. 

President Biden said, in what many think was the best speech of his presidency so far, these people are “holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.” He went on to say, “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” 

Tucker Carlson and his ilk have never bothered to answer a question the president threw at them, which is how they can accept all their down ballot victories, governors, and members of Congress, which occurred on the same ballots, cast by the same people, on the same day, as those for president. Of course, Carlson has no need to make sense, tell the truth, or speak rationally because of his platform on Fox, which doesn’t require that.

My question is whether Carlson is as dumb as he makes himself sound or is he brilliant and this is all a big act? Either way the acolytes that follow Trump don’t seem to care and are bowing down to Carlson’s big audience. It’s as if he can tell any Republican senator or congressperson, or Republican candidate for those jobs, to just ‘bend over and take it’ and they do. All we can do is mourn for the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower. Non-Trumpers will have to work hard and speak out if they ever want to resurrect a GOP that can be respected.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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