Richard Harris wasn't the only NPR staffer wondering about the backwardness of America on Tuesday's All Things Considered. At the end of a completely supine interview with Barney Frank, anchor Guy Raz asked Frank if he was pleased at how far America had come from its backwardness on gay liberation from when he came out of the closet in the Reagan years.
"I want to ask you about a decision you made in 1987," Raz declared. "You went public to tell people you were gay. That was controversial at the time. Are you heartened at the distance America has come?" Frank said "without question," and said "prejudice" was very close to being eliminated in America:
FRANK: It will be my 25th anniversary. I was very frightened when I did it, it turned out unnecessarily. Yeah, I think one of the great success stories in America is the extent to which we have overcome prejudice based on being lesbian or gay, bisexual, transgender. It's not completely gone but the end is in sight. And I am proud of my role in that. I think frankly ioming out was a big part of it because reality beats prejudice and by presenting people, those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender with the reality of who we are, we give an alternative to the prejudice, and the prejudice loses."
Guy Raz (a former CNN correspondent) only asked four questions, all of them softballs that he let Frank take paragraphs to answer:
1. "What will be your top two or three priorities for your last year in office?" Frank answered for 50 seconds about stopping right-wing "guerrilla warfare" on financial reform and cutting the defense budget.
2. On the apparently glorious Dodd-Frank bill, "What in your view is it already doing to prevent the kind of crisis that inspired its implementation?" Frank answered for a full sixty seconds.
3. ,"If there was one think you could have included in Dodd-Frank that you just couldn’t put in there because it wouldn’t have been accepted, you know, by most members of Congress, what would that have been?" He answered for another 50 seconds.
The gay question was fourth, and only took 34 seconds to answer. On the NPR website, the headline was “Barney Frank's Two Top Goals: Protecting Wall St. Reform, Social Spending.”