June July 2016
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The Advocate

The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media

It was hard enough picking a single most influential LGBT person for this list (and, in the end, it was a tie), so you can imagine the trouble we had narrowing down our picks to 50 and then ranking each.

To do it, first we asked a number of people on this list, and some who were considered along the way, to vote. We left it open to interpretation as to exactly what "influential" meant to them. Rachel Maddow has redefined MSNBC, for example. Meanwhile, Harvey Levin's TMZ is breaking stories that define the whole news cycle.

Respondents from the media lined up more frequently behind Maddow as the most influential. But it's hard to ignore Levin's influence, with the Ray Rice story only the latest example of his site's talent for exposing celebrity misdeeds that have broader lessons and consequences.

A few caveats about who is eligible for the list: Only those media figures who are publicly out are included. And as much as we appreciate our colleagues in the LGBT news world, this list consists of reporters and editors who produce for mainstream outlets on largely non-LGBT beats.

See the final rankings below and feel free to continue the debate in the Comments.

 

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1. Rachel Maddow 
Host, MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show
@maddow

As host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, not only has Maddow distinguished herself as a leading political voice, she also helms the anchor desk during the biggest news moments and has redefined the entire network in her wonky image.

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1. Harvey Levin 
Creator and managing editor, TMZ
@HarveyLevinTMZ

Don't write off TMZ. Between the site and the TV show alone, Levin's gossip powerhouse mercilessly reaches millions of people daily and has broken the news everyone talks about — would we even know about Ray Rice's elevator violence without TMZ?

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3. Robin Roberts 
Anchor, ABC's Good Morning America
@RobinRoberts

The author, cancer survivor, and Good Morning America anchor is beloved by the millions of people who watch the leading morning news show. But don't take our word for it — the Q Score numbers back it up.

 

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4. Anderson Cooper
Host, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360
@AndersonCooper

Although his syndicated talk show didn't catch fire, Cooper is the rare versatile personality who can host an unpredictable New Year's Eve telecast and still report from the most dangerous places in the world for his nightly hourlong program and then take viewers deep into a story for 60 Minutes.

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5. Glenn Greenwald
Editor, The Intercept
@ggreenwald

This investigative journalist's reporting won the Pulitzer Prize after changing the world's discourse about privacy and national security with sourced classified documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Now he's making headlines as a founding editor of the new site The Intercept.

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6. Suze Orman
Host, CNBC's The Suze Orman Show
@SuzeOrmanShow

A former financial adviser at Merrill Lynch, Orman shares her economic expertise on her CNBC show as well as in numerous best-selling books like The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom.

 

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7. Nick Denton
Founder, Gawker Media
@nicknotned

Sometimes a polarizing figure, Denton is no doubt a trailblazer with his series of Gawker Media–owned websites and their ever-expanding audience. He's experimented with new ways to pay writers, new commenting systems, and new designs for all sites.

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8. Nate Silver 
Statistician, editor in chief, ESPN's FiveThirtyEight
@NateSilver538

This statistician keeps riling the Washington establishment with his accurate forecasts of elections, first for FiveThirtyEight as a blog, then for The New York Times, and now with his biggest iteration yet via ESPN.

 

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9. Jonathan Capehart
The Washington Post, Contributor to MSNBC
@capehartj

This well-liked Washington Post editorial writer is first a print opinion-shaper who also succeeds as an entertaining and insightful analyst during regular appearances on MSNBC.

 

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10. Kara Swisher 
Founder, Re/code
@karaswisher

Swisher and other Wall Street Journal tech reporters started their own site, Re/code, and have already made it a must-read. Swisher has even crossed over as an expert called upon for more traditional outlets with vastly different audiences, such as Meet the Press.

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11. Dan Savage
Editorial director, The Stranger
@fakedansavage

This newspaper editor and often-activist is actually known best as a sex columnist despite having become an influential and frequently controversial voice on numerous LGBT topics. He cofounded the It Gets Better Project in 2010.

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12. Frank Bruni 
Columnist, The New York Times
@FrankBruni

Formerly the chief restaurant critic for The New York Times, Bruni made history in 2011 by becoming the Grey Lady's first out gay columnist.

 

 

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13. Andrew Sullivan
Founder, The Daily Dish
@sullydish

Whether at Time magazine or The Atlantic, Sullivan always commanded attention with his blog, The Daily Dish, and became a well-regarded commentator. Taking his site independent with a paywall, though, further solidified Sullivan as a leader to watch in media.

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14. Adam Moss 
Editor in chief, New York magazine

For a decade, Moss has served as editor in chief of New York magazine, where he helped shepherd the print tastemaker into the digital age with the launch of NYMag.com. (But we can't find him on Twitter.)

 

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15. Jess Cagle 
Editorial director, People, Entertainment Weekly
@MrJessCagle

As the editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly, Cagle has contibuted to and helped build both brands throughout his 27-year-long career at Time Inc.

 

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16. Don Lemon 
Anchor, CNN Newsroom
@DonLemon

The CNN anchor and author is one of the most visible LGBT journalists of color on television, and he brings many of these intersections to the table when reporting (most recently, from protests in Ferguson, Mo.).

 

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17. Janet Mock
Contributing Editor, Marie Claire
@JanetMock

Mainstream media is generally clueless about how to cover trans people, and Mock is using her platform as a New York Times best-selling author and as a contributing editor to Marie Claire to change that.

 

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18. Adam Nagourney 
L.A. bureau chief, The New York Times
@AdamNagourney

The influence that Nagourney wielded as a top-notch political correspondent persists even now as Los Angeles bureau chief.

 

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19. Ari Shapiro 
Reporter, NPR
@AriShapiro

Shapiro became a familiar voice in the mornings by often filling in as an anchor on Morning Edition and All Things Considered when he wasn't reporting on the White House. Now the award-winning journalist is based in London as international correspondent.

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20. Jim Nelson 
Editor in chief, GQ
(Nope, not on Twitter)

Since 2003 Nelson has served as editor in chief of GQ, where he reports on and maintains the gold standard of men's fashion. 

 

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21. Thomas Roberts
Anchor, MSNBC's Way Too Early
@ThomasARoberts

Roberts was a success with his own MSNBC midday program and then became part of what is perhaps Washington's most influential morning show, Morning Joe, while also taking over at Way Too Early.

 

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22. Perez Hilton 
Founder, PerezHilton.com
@PerezHilton

The self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media," Hilton helms one of the Internet's most talked-about Hollywood gossip sites, which like its subjects often makes the news with controversies of its own.

 

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23. Sam Champion 
Anchor and managing editor, the Weather Channel
@SamChampion

One of America's favorite forecasters was such a success at Good Morning America that he launched his own entry in the morning market at the Weather Channel, where he is also managing editor.

 

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24. LZ Granderson 
Columnist, ESPN
@Locs_n_laughs

Columnist LZ Granderson does not pull any punches when it comes to race, gender, or sexuality in his writing for ESPN or CNN, but he does it in a way that makes you smile as much as it makes you think.

 

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25. Pete Williams 
Justice correspondent, NBC News
@PeteWilliamsNBC

When legal news breaks, Williams can be counted on to interpret what's just happened. And when the Boston Marathon bombings happened, there was a moment when Pete Williams was trending on Twitter for his well-informed reporting.

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26. Jann Wenner 
Cofounder, Rolling Stone

As the cofounder of Rolling Stone and owner of Us Weekly and Men's Journal, Wenner has an enduring influence in media and has fostered the careers of many luminaries, including photographer Annie Leibowitz as well as Cameron Crowe.

 

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27. Steve Kornacki 
Host, MSNBC's Up
@SteveKornacki

The Salon political writer started as a frequent guest of Rachel Maddow and eventually took over a weekend slot on MSNBC, making a name for himself with reporting on governor Chris Christie's "bridgegate."

 

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28. Choire Sicha 
Cofounder, The Awl
@Choire

A former Gawker writer, Sicha is the cofounder of The Awl, a leading resource for thoughts and analyses on news and culture. He's also the author of Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City.

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29. Jared Eng
Founder and EIC, JustJared
@JaredEng

The 32-year-old Eng founded one of the world's most influential online entertainment sources, JustJared.com, where visitors get a comprehensive roundup of fashion photo galleries, celebrity news, and gossip.

 

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30. Maer Roshan 
Founder and editor, RadarOnline.com and TheFix.com
@MaerRoshan

The former deputy editor of New York magazine first got on our "radar" (ha!) by launching his game-changing entertainment glossy, which endures as RadarOnline.com, and he continues making a mark via ventures like the drug, addiction, and recovery news source TheFix.com and his iPad publication Punch!

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31. Tom McGeveran 
Cofounder and editor, Capital New York
@tmcgev

With an expansion from Washington into the New York market, Politico combined forces with Tom McGeveran's Capital New York to re-create its ambitious reporting style.

 

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32. Brian Balthazar 
Co-executive producer, ABC's The View
@BrianBalthazar

The former head of programming at AOL, Balthazar is a longtime pop culture expert and TV personality, whose abilities and entertainment insights recently garnered him a role as co-executive producer of The View.

 

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33. Josh Barro 
Domestic correspondent, The New York Times
@JBarro

A former politics editor at Business Insider who happens to be the son of famed economist Robert Barro, this New York Times correspondent is an insightful regular presence on MSNBC.

 

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34. Chris Geidner
Legal Editor, Buzzfeed
@ChrisGeidner

This Buzzfeed reporter made a name for himself breaking all the latest developments on marriage equality and was then promoted to the site's legal editor.

 

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35. Sally Kohn 
Commentator, CNN
@SallyKohn

A former contributor to Fox News, Kohn has gone on to found the grassroots think tank Movement Vision Lab and is now a frequent pundit for CNN on politics and culture while also a columnist for The Daily Beast.

 

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36. Stephanie Miller
Radio host, The Stephanie Miller Show
@SMShow

Even without her TV entry on Current, this liberal commentator's nationally syndicated talk radio show is as entertaining and politically biting as ever.

 

 

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37. Charles Blow 
Columnist, The New York Times
@CharlesMBlow

Blow is The New York Times' only columnist of color and is an an outspoken voice on issues of race in America, most recently confronting Fox's Bill O'Reilly on Ferguson. He wrote recently in his memoir about his attraction to men.

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38. Jane Velez-Mitchell 
Host, HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell
@jvm

Whether it's racial profiling or the Jodi Arias case, when HLN host and author Jane Velez-Mitchell is passionate about something in the world of law and order, she will make sure you know about it.

 

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39. Ariel Foxman 
Editor in chief, InStyle
@ArielFoxman

As the editor in chief of one of the most-read fashion magazines in the U.S., Foxman is one of field's most potent influencers, serving up style and sass to the tune of 1.8 million subscribers.

 

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40. Chris Hughes 
Owner and editor in chief, The New Republic
@ChrisHughes

The New Republic's audience is growing quickly under Hughes's ownership and Washington is taking note of its reinvigoration.

 

 

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41. Jose Antonio Vargas
Freelance journalist
@joseiswriting

Founder of the nonprofit Define American and director of CNN Films' Documented, Vargas was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his part reporting on the Virginia Tech shootings for The Washington Post.

 

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42. Benoit Denizet-Lewis
Writer, The New York Times Magazine
@BenoitDLewis

He's written some of the publication's most-talked about LGBT pieces over the last decade (including his controversial stories about bisexuals). The Emerson College assistant professor is also a producer of the upcoming film Michael, based on his Times Magazine piece about his "ex-gay" friend. 

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43. Ina Fried 
Senior Editor, Re/code
@InaFried

As the senior editor of Re/code, Fried, a trans woman, is a trailblazer in technology journalism respected for her reporting on mobile trends. 

 

 

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44. Richard Berke 
Former executive editor, Politico
@RickBerke

A longtime player at The New York Times, Berke moved on to another big name in political news — Politico — but departed this month in a disagreement over its future.

 

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45. Rose Arce
Producer, CNN
@RosemArce

It isn't only the people in front of the camera who make an impact, and CNN's Arce is a Pulitzer Prize winner who proves it.

 

 

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46. Michael Ausiello 
Editor in chief, TVLine.com
@MichaelAusiello

The founding editor of TV Line might as well have the nickname "Spoiler Alert." He and his team of reporters have the scoop on all things television for fans and industry alike.

 

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47. Marc Malkin
Senior editor and red carpet reporter, E! Online
@MarcMalkin

A staple of the red carpet, the newly married Malkin is one of the most visible LGBT entertainment reporters in Hollywood, which he covers with wit and pizzazz as the senior editor of E! Online.

 

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48. Amy Walter
National editor, Cook Political Report
@AmyEWalter

When Meet the Press relaunched this month with Chuck Todd as host, his former colleague at The Hotline was a guest and demonstrated once again why the former political director for ABC News is worth listening to for insight on what's next in politics.

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49. Kate Fagan 
Writer, ESPN
@KateFagan3

ESPN contributor and columnist Kate Fagan writes about basketball (and gender and sexism and homophobia) from a place of knowledge and deep, personal appreciation.

 

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50. Neda Ulaby 
Reporter, NPR
@ulabeast

An arts and entertainment reporter at National Public Radio, the Jordan-born journalist is renowned for her film reviews and interviews with luminaries like Ellen Page and Tyler Perry.

 

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MICHELLE GARCIA, LUCAS GRINDLEY, and DANIEL REYNOLDS contributed to this report.

Tags: Media, Politics
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