Per the Times, Anderson Cooper, prior to coming out today, “didn’t want to be known as ‘the gay anchor,’” thus prolonging his time in the glass closet. His decision to come out may have been expedited by the presence of many other gay anchors–Mr. Cooper is less a standard-bearer in TV news than a member of a growing club.
There’s Rachel Maddow, whose rise to fame as an out lesbian came after Mr. Cooper’s rise as a quiet bachelor. Other anchors to come out after Mr. Cooper became well-known included CNN’s Don Lemon, HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell, and MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts. None of them are quite as well-known as Mr. Cooper, but they’ve generally been able to continue doing the news even despite their being gay; they’re not hopelessly compromised as news reporters. By not coming out, even though it was the thing to do, say, ten years ago, Mr. Cooper looked very behind-the-times.
There’s an argument to be made that an anchor of Mr. Cooper’s prominence coming up today would never feel the need to stay in the closet–the changes in the American scene since Mr. Cooper’s emergence in the early 2000s are epitomized in the general lack of hubbub over, say, Mr. Lemon’s sexuality. Mr. Cooper’s coming out is an interesting story because he had been in the closet for so long and because that closet is so transparent, but it is unlikely to change much about his career in the long term–Mr. Lemon could tell him all about that.