While millions of Americans are simultaneously weary and anxious as election day draws near, Steve Kornacki is in his element.
As national political correspondent for NBC and MSNBC, Kornacki has been all over the networks’ various political shows, standing next to an electronic whiteboard, ready to scrawl some stat about polling data from Texas, Florida or Wisconsin. It doesn’t look much different from an NFL analyst using a telestrator.
If Kornacki approaches political data the way a baseball fan would a player’s WAR rating, that would make sense. In addition to being a political junkie and elections expert, the 41-year-old Kornacki is also a huge sports fan in addition to being openly gay.
Kornacki came out as gay in 2011 in a Salon magazine article and discussed his sports interests and how they didn’t seem to fit in what most gay men were into.
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.
Times have certainly changed since Kornacki said this, as LGBTQ people are now openly fervent sports fans. Kornacki is not the only NBC journalist who identifies and LGBTQ and is also into sports.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who is also openly gay and will be one of the network’s election night anchors, was a competitive swimmer and volleyball and basketball player. Mike Del Moro, a booking producer for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” is openly gay and shared his story as an out college swimmer earlier this year.
I love watching Kornacki — preppily dressed in a button-down shirt (sleeves rolled up), tie and khakis — dissect election polls and results. A huge student of political history, Kornacki’s Twitter feed has been filled with flashbacks to elections of the past 40 years. I most enjoyed his “what if?” thread about the various electoral permutations still possible. He even inspired a college election nerd to dress as Kornacki for Halloween.
On election night, I will be bouncing around from network to network, but I will keep one TV tuned permanently to MSNBC, so as not to miss a Kornacki performance. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a chance to see him on camera with a sheet of paper or a pen dangling from his mouth, breathlessly updating a precinct in a swing county in a swing state.