Filling the 60 minutes of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List is no easy task. For each episode, you need a story, access to interesting people, and a few staged events where you can acquire tasty video able to overcome the short attention span of viewers who move along a 200-channel universe with a touch of the remote.
This week, the Griffin show is acquiring raw video for an episode featuring Griffin as “lobbyist for a day.” She’s lobbying to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). But if there ever was an example of “I just play one on TV,” it’s Kathy Griffin as lobbyist.
Enter Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the DC LGBT organization that claims to be “a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide.” As hearings take place in the Senate, HRC planned a rally at Freedom Plaza. As they describe it on their “HRC Back Story” webpage: “This week, Kathy Griffin is traveling to Washington to add her voice, by lobbying Members of Congress, meeting with veterans and mobilizing support.”
But there’s a backstory to the backstory, and that’s where the backchannel gets involved. The “rally” was little more than a staged event to provide tasty video for Michael Levitt Productions to sell to Bravo. Ordinarily, that little tidbit would do little more than sicken the attending activists sharp enough to see they were again being used. But Lt. Dan Choi, for reasons only he knows (but I suspect have to do with him being among the sharp ones), took some direct action.
Dan Choi and Kathy Griffin at HRC/Bravo Rally
He asked to speak. What he was told depends upon whom you believe. The HRC claims their president Joe Solmonese told Choi that it “wasn’t his sole decision to make on the spot.” Reports from the scene on the backchannel say Choi was told, “This is Bravo’s Show.” Choi cannot tell us, because he’s in jail tonight, and reports indicate he is not being allowed a phone call.
Griffin ultimately decided to ask Choi to the podium to speak, but I doubt she, her co-producers, or HRC are very happy with what he said. He told the truth about Barney Frank’s inside information that DADT wouldn’t be repealed this year. He pointed out that the White House was where the protest should be, and he asked people to march there with him. Griffin said she would.
Lt. Choi and Capt James Pietrangelo marched to the White House and handcuffed themselves to the fence with the help of Robin McGehee of GetEqual.org. About a hundred true activists went with them, but Solmonese of HRC wasn’t among them. The HRC’s excuse? He stayed behind because he “felt it was important to stay and engage those at the rally in ways they can continue building the pressure needed for repeal.”
Immediate repeal would help neither HRC nor Griffin. Though they’d both take credit for it, HRC would lose a reason to fundraise and provide free extras for video shoots that self-promote, and Griffin would have a stale show. Make no mistake, for Griffin, its about the show. Though she said she’d march with Choi, she stayed at the video shoot, tweeting a fawning misdirection when the backchannel called her on it. After all, Kathy Griffin isn’t really an activist. She just plays one on TV.