Home Politics Community Politics The Giant, Technicolor, Rainbow-Print Elephant in the Room and the Opportunity Missed.

The Giant, Technicolor, Rainbow-Print Elephant in the Room and the Opportunity Missed.


I love Alaska reality shows.
No, not the crap on cable. I don’t care what Sarah Palin is paying people to believe Alaska looks like – I’m talking the shoestring-budget news shows that populate Anchorage’s ABC Channel 13, “Your Alaska Link.”
Shows like Bill Walker’s On Point and Moore Up North (currently on hiatus) are filled with insightful commentary and informative interviews with local politicians and Alaska notables. I love television that trades dance competitions for relevant information. And when that relevant information is local, I become Super Fan #YES. 
This past Thursday, the United States Supreme Court decided on two cases affecting LGBT Americans. That same day, Alaska Political Insider’s Dorene Lorenz prepared for a one-on-one interview with Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. At six am (AKST), reporters poured out of the courthouse onto 2nd Avenue in Washington DC to inform the free world that DOMA was unconstitutional in its definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Minutes later, the case supporting California’s ban on same-sex marriage was shut down. And at four in the afternoon, on the same day, ABC’s Channel 13 would devote a full 60 minutes to interviewing a mayor who’s anti-gay policies are a family legacy.
Mayor George Sullivan, father of our current mayor Dan Sullivan, vetoed the first anti-discrimination bill that passed the Anchorage Assembly in 1975. For clarity’s sake, he did it again a year later. Flash forward 25 years, Mayor Dan Sullivan picked up the torch and did so a third time. It was one of his administration’s first moves, and it went national. During his reelection bid in 2011, he was vocal about his opposition to a ballot initiative seeking to correct the mistake.
A full hour on a historic day for equal rights with arguably the most actively anti-gay mayor in Alaska’s history. Get that popcorn popped, this is going to be a hell of a ride!
And then, the topic failed to come up.
There was just a single, awkward, and fleeting reference to the events of the day. It came in the third segment when Mayor Sullivan noticed that Lorenz was sporting a new wedding ring. She acknowledged that she had recently been married, and was bummed that Sullivan was not in attendance. She said maybe he could come to her next wedding. Or…

“Well, they have that new law where marriage has been redefined,” Lorenz joked. “So maybe polygamy will be back in. I can have two husbands. I like your wife. We can share.”
Nervous laughter, silence, and on to a new topic: the Winter Olympics.
End fail.
So, what happened there?
I like Dorene Lorenz, and Alaska Political Insider can be a very entertaining show. I highly recommend it. In fact, I DVR every episode. But this was problematic.
Alaska Political Insider advertises its own slogan: “Everything in AK is political, except politics. Politics are personal.”
Mayor Sullivan has a record. And he’s running for lieutenant governor, the number two spot in the executive branch of the state. A lot of people take that personally too. Dorene Lorenz has stepped up to interview candidates, and we should be thankful for that. But we also need her to actually interview said candidates – tough questions and all.
If there’s a giant, technicolor, rainbow-print elephant in the room, elected officials will likely try to ignore it. If the person tasked with interviewing the politician doesn’t raise his or her hand, it will stay in the background as an unmentioned, giant, technicolor, rainbow-print elephant in the room. And that’s shoddy stewardship of being the gatekeeper between the elected official and his or her constituents. That’s a bad way to uphold the job title of “person-with-show.”