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Roberts, Thomas (b. 1972)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Of the mini-scandal that erupted when a story about the pictures appeared in the New York Post, Roberts told Kennedy, "I never put inappropriate pictures of myself on a public website. For me it was really hurtful, for Patrick and I it was terribly painful, . . . what happened was something that we needed to deal with on a personal level. And we've dealt with it—we've closed the chapter on that issue and moved on."

Although Roberts' bosses at The Insider publicly defended him when the mini-scandal over the pictures broke, issuing a statement describing the event as "a malicious personal attack," they nevertheless declined to renew his contract, citing budgetary considerations and a desire for a "new direction" for the show.

Sponsor Message.

After being let go by The Insider, Roberts returned to traditional news reporting, working as a correspondent for CBS News until his contract with the network expired.

Roberts at MSNBC

In April 2010, Roberts joined MSNBC as a freelance anchor. In December, he was named a full-time anchor.

Although he primarily anchors his own daytime show on MSNBC, he also frequently substitutes as a weekend anchor and overnight news anchor on MSNBC as well as on programs such as NBC's Early Today and Today shows and MSNBC's First Look. He also substituted for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown when Olbermann was suspended for making campaign contributions to candidates in the 2010 elections.

Roberts has an unusually effective presence as a news anchor, one that inspires confidence and trust in the viewer. He always seems informed and on top of the stories that he reports.

He excels as an interviewer, asking questions that are probing and that are designed to yield new information or that place issues in context. He treats his guests, even those with whom he disagrees, with respect and consideration.

Roberts has not been shy about alluding to his homosexuality. For example, when he was conducting an interview about the prospects for marriage equality in Maryland in 2011, he volunteered that he would like to be able to marry in his home state.

(Soon after New York passed legislation authorizing same-sex marriage in the Empire State on the night of June 24, 2011, Roberts tweeted that he and Abner were engaged to be married. On September 29, 2012, they married in New York City, where they live. Roberts thus became the first American national news anchor in a same-sex marriage.)

In the fall of 2010, Roberts was moved by the rash of young gay men committing suicide as a result of bullying and harassment. Not only did he contribute a moving video to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project, but he also interviewed Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, who had spoken out against the bullying at a city council meeting and who like Roberts had attempted suicide as a teenager.

But perhaps the most significant contribution that Roberts makes to the movement for equal rights has little to do with direct advocacy. His presence as an openly gay man in the higher echelon of journalism itself makes a powerful statement about the progress that glbtq people have made in American society. His openness not only signals his own acceptance and ease with his sexuality, but it also bespeaks possibilities to other aspiring journalists even as it humanizes and personalizes issues that sometimes seem remote to television viewers.

Roberts' presence as an openly gay man also influences to some extent the way his network treats glbtq news stories. Roberts undoubtedly has some discretion in the stories he chooses to report and he no doubt influences choices made by the network as a whole. In addition, his participation in on air discussions of issues such as marriage equality or Don't Ask, Don't Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act also means that the perspective of an openly gay man is incorporated into the coverage. While Roberts' reporting is scrupulously fair, it is also necessarily informed by the totality of his experience.

It is no accident that MSNBC, which boasts not only Roberts but also out lesbian Rachel Maddow as prominent members of its news staff, is widely regarded as the network that covers glbtq issues most fairly and thoroughly.

Roberts has established himself as a leading television journalist. His future is likely to be very bright.

Claude J. Summers

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  American Television, News

Although glbtq people and issues have been inadequately covered by American television news, there have recently been signs of improvement.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Talk Shows

For glbt people, television talk shows have been both promising and problematic; they have brought glbt issues to public awareness, but until recently they have also presented glbt people as stereotypes and freaks.

social sciences >> Overview:  Computers, the Internet, and New Media

Since the advent of the Internet, lesbians, gay men, and sexual and gender nonconformists of all kinds have been able to use a variety of computer-mediated communications to meet and network both on- and offline.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

literature >> Overview:  Political Blogs

The explosion of political blogs has served to multiply greatly the number of voices    participating in glbtq activism and to expedite the transmission of political information to glbtq communities.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

arts >> Cooper, Anderson

Award-winning television journalist Anderson Cooper, famous for his reporting from war zones and scenes of natural and man-made disasters, ended years of speculation by confirming his homosexuality in 2012.

arts >> In the Life

America's only nationally broadcast gay and lesbian newsmagazine, In the Life began in 1992 as a variety show, but has since evolved into an acclaimed public-affairs program.

arts >> Maddow, Rachel

Political commentator Rachel Maddow became the first out lesbian to host a prime-time television news program when "The Rachel Maddow Show" premiered on MSNBC in September 2008.

arts >> O'Donnell, Rosie

Comedian, actress, television talk show host, and openly gay mom, Rosie O'Donnell has achieved remarkable success in her relatively short career.

literature >> Rodriguez, Richard

Essayist and memoirist Richard Rodriguez, perhaps the most widely read of Latino-American authors, positions himself as an outsider in America, not only because of his ethnicity, but also because of his sexuality.

literature >> Savage, Dan

Best known for his syndicated sex-advice column, Dan Savage is also the author of books chronicling his and his partner's experiences in adopting a child and dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage

literature >> Shilts, Randy

Randy Shilts pioneered as an openly gay journalist in the 1970s and 1980s and was an astute interpreter of the various issues affecting American gay men and lesbians.

social sciences >> Signorile, Michelangelo

Michelangelo Signorile is a prolific, and often provocative, writer and activist whose books and articles, radio show, newspaper columns, and website champion the cause of glbtq rights.

social sciences >> Suicide

In addition to the general risk factors for suicide, such as depression and substance abuse, glbtq people also face stressors such as discrimination and harassment, which put them at an increased risk for suicidal behavior.

social sciences >> Sullivan, Andrew

Social and political commentator Andrew Sullivan has established himself as an influential participant in Anglo-American political discourse.


    Bibliography
   

Hernandez, Greg. "Gay CNN Anchor Thomas Roberts Clears the Air." Out in Hollywood (September 15, 2006): http://blogs.dailynews.com/outinhollywood/2006/09/cnns-thompson.html

Keith, Christie. "Life as an Openly Gay Journalist: CNN's Thomas Roberts." AfterElton.com (September 15, 2006): http://www.afterelton.com/people/2006/9/roberts.html?page=0%2C0

Kennedy, Sean. "The Insider Is Out." The Advocate (June-July 2008): http://www.advocate.com/article.aspx?id=22550

Pep, Steve. "Towleroad Interview: Thomas Roberts." Towleroad.com (May 5, 2011): http://www.towleroad.com/2011/05/towleroad-interview-thomas-roberts.html

"Priest Who Abused CNN's Thomas Roberts Given Lighter Sentence." Towleroad (December 12, 2006): http://www.towleroad.com/2006/12/cnn_anchor_thom.html#ixzz1SVFK68ci

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: Roberts, Thomas  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated October 1, 2012  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/roberts_thomas.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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