One of the pleasures of this long election season has been watching NBC and MSNBC political analyst Steve Kornacki do battle with the network’s election board.
Wearing khakis, a button-down Oxford with the sleeves rolled up, a loose-fitting tie and sneakers and wearing glasses, Kornacki gets more hyper as results come in, as if each result is a shot of caffeine.
He might be holding a sheet of paper in his mouth as the camera cuts to him or maybe a pen that he spits out before talking. And he loves nothing more than doing math on live TV, using his index finger as a magic marker.
Because we can never get enough @SteveKornacki at the Big Board, here are some of our favorite moments from last night's #PA18 special election coverage. https://t.co/Vbi3SvU1RZ #11MSNBC #TrackingKornacki pic.twitter.com/nipDayYssN— 11th Hour (@11thHour) March 14, 2018
Kornacki, 39, is in his element discussing and analyzing vote totals and trends and is excellent at what he does. He speaks concisely and clearly, knows his subject matter intimately and applies a just-the-facts-ma’am approach that cuts through the pontificating that too often infects cable news. He does it all with an enthusiasm that is infectious.
For Kornacki, Election Day is his Super Bowl, which is fitting because the Massachusetts native is such a huge sports fan, reveling in the wins of his Boston sports teams. Of particular interest to the Outsports audience, he’s also openly gay.
Kornacki came out openly as gay in 2011 in a Salon magazine article. In it, he talked about his struggles accepting he was gay since he didn’t share the interests he assumed most gay men did, especially sports.
I was the All-American kid, or so I told myself — good grades, never in trouble, bright future, well-respected by my peers. My favorite comedian was Bob Newhart. After a trip to Cape Cod with a friend and his family, the kid’s mother said her favorite moment was watching “straitlaced Steve” struggling to make sense of all the hedonism around him when we drove out to Provincetown. I remember seeing drag queens and men dressed in skimpy attire and thinking to myself: Get me out of here so I can watch a baseball game.
I just didn’t fit the stereotypes of gay men. I was an ESPN addict as far back as elementary school. I’d also had early crushes on girls.
I understood where Kornacki was coming from, since a lot of men feel there is only one way to “act gay,” and feel isolated if they like sports, for example. It’s one reason we started Outsports, since we always felt there were more LGBT sports fans than even our communities realized.
We also knew that there was a lot more overlap than people might think — I know people who are both opera buffs and baseball fans and others who do drag but can throw a football 40 yards on a dime. And there are those like Kornacki who are both sports fans and fashion-challenged (“Steve Kornacki is trying to single-handedly destroy the stereotype that gay men are stylish,” someone wrote on Twitter last week after watching him on MSNBC).
In addition to politics (his official title is National Political Correspondent for NBC and MSNBC), Kornacki’s Twitter and Instagram feeds are laced with sports references, reflecting his dual passions.
What you don’t find are many references to LGBT issues, which reflects the fact that he keeps his private life private. The last interview I could find where Kornacki discussed being gay was in 2014, in an Out Magazine article appropriately titled “The Straight Gay World of Steve Kornacki.” I got nowhere with my requests for an interview via MSNBC.
There’s nothing wrong with Kornacki’s approach, since I don’t expect every out LGBT person to become a spokesperson for the cause. Simply by pursuing his profession while openly gay, Kornacki is saying a lot and it’s cool that he has become one of the faces of Election Day on a major TV network. I look forward to watching him tonight.