The most compelling element of Jonathan Capehart’s next MSNBC special may not be the host, but rather a video tableau of White House officials who have publicly identified as being LGBTQ.
“You really see all of these people and just think about how far the community has come, and how far the nation has come,” says the host of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show,” in an interview. “I had to take a step back and realize that this is not usual.”
Capehart typically holds forth on Sunday mornings for the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news outlet, but he will appear on its screen this Sunday evening at 10 p.m. in “Pride of the White House,” his second special at the network. The program takes an hour-long look at what the Biden Administration is doing to advance the rights of the LGBTQ community and features taped interviews with some of its top LGBTQ officials.
The journalist –Capehart continues to hold down duties at The Washington Post ––will be seen in taped interviews with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine; Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre; Deputy White House Communications Director Pili Tobar, Chief State Department Spokesperson Ned Price; and Reggie Greer, White House Senior Adviser for LGBTQ+ Engagement.
The program shows Capehart branching out a bit even as he works to maintain steam on “Sunday,” which debuted on MSNBC in mid-December of last year. He believes the program has generated a reliable audience in its short time on the air. “We have been very successful at getting big names to come on and talk about news of the day or whatever it is that’s on their minds,” he says.
His first special, a sit-down with former President Barack Obama last November following the release of his memoir, “A Promised Land,” marked the start of what Capehart hopes will be an occasional series of interviews with newsmakers who might be a little more difficult to book. “What I love about being able to do specials like these is the ability to spend more time talking in depth with someone, and really getting them to be human and talk,” says the anchor. In Sunday’s program, “there are moments in each of these interviews where I’m able to ask a question that hits them in a personal way.” Their responses are important for people watching at home to see, because “these are people with super-important jobs but who are still human beings who have stories and life histories that inform everything about what they have done and who they are.”
He’d like to do more, as time and circumstances allow. “If I could do one every quarter, that would be fantastic, but I think that’s really reaching for the stars there,” says Capehart, who credits MSNBC President Rashida Jones with encouraging him to try out these types of programs.
He’s also eager to develop his main show. Capehart says he would like to get more Republicans to come on the program and make the case for the party’s policies. “We still ask for sitting Republican members of Congress to come on the show, and no one has taken us up on it yet. I don’t agree with a lot of folks in the Republican party, but they are elected officials and they are here in Washington, and it would be great if one or two would come on talk about what they are doing,” says Capehart. Such talks, he adds, “could be a conversation of benefit to folks around the country and for the ‘Sunday Show’ audience.”
For now, however, he’s eager to have people see all the interviews he’s done this Sunday evening. Having so many LGBTQ government officials on TV in a single hour devoted to such a topic is remarkable, he says, because he can recall a time when such a program would not get on the air. “It’s pretty damn special to be able to tell all of these stories.”
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