Thank You, Meryl Streep – from an LGBT journalist


- Advertisement -


BY KAREN OCAMB  |  Like so many in the audience at the Golden Globes Sunday night, I held my breath in anticipation of what Meryl Streep would say in accepting the Cecile B. DeMille Award. And like so many others, I had seen most of the Streep movies encapsulated in the introductory video—but I was stuck on the clip from Tony Kushner’s brilliant Angels in America. Playing the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, who closeted gay lawyer Roy Cohn was instrumental in executing during the Red Scare era, Streep tells Al Pacino’s character, dying of AIDS: “I came to forgive, but all I can do is take pleasure in your misery, hoping I would get to see you die more terrible than I did.”

Streep did not disappoint, not in her many films, not in her acceptance speech. “An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like,” Streep said.

But it is her admonishment of President-elect Donald Trump, without ever speaking his name, that is getting the most attention.

“[T]here was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good, it was — there’s nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth,” Streep said.


“It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege and power and the capacity to fight back. It, it kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she continued before a rapt audience in the room and via televisions around the world.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. OK, go on with that thing. OK, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.” Applause.

Applause for the press? Yes, Hollywood needs the press for publicity for their product. But there has also been righteous pushback in this celebrity-driven culture when the “press” or those who claim to represent the press, overstep the bounds of civility. The hounding of Princess Diana comes to mind, as well as the blurring of lines between tabloid/click bait headlines and real investigative reporting that needs to be “juicy” to get read.

Celebrity Apprentice Reality TV star and producer Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States, in part, by running against the “corrupt” media, one of the reasons the crowd laughed when Trump mocked New York Times disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski.

The whole episode—reported in detail by the rumor-debunking website— happened because Trump cited a Sept. 18, 2001 report by Kovaleski, then with the Washington Post, which gave a passing reference to “people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks.”  Trump used that to verify his widely criticized and debunked claim that “thousands and thousands of people [in Jersey City, New Jersey] were cheering as [the World Trade Center] was coming down.”

After Kovaleski noted that “there were never any reports (not even unsubstantiated ones) of ‘thousands’ or even ‘hundreds’ of people celebrating the 9/11 attacks in the New York area,” Snopes reports, “Trump countered with a retort in which he criticized the journalist for attempting to ‘back away’ from his previous article and visually mocked Kovaleski’s physical appearance.”

It was that Trump performance that rattled Streep and so many others. With her Golden Globe acceptance speech, Meryl Streep gave voice to millions of outraged, frustrated and frightened voters who believed Hillary Clinton would have made a better president—almost three million more voters than Trump.

Streep spoke for those of us who cherish our identities, but, as she noted, “really belong to the most vilified segments of American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.” Others in that room and at home watching who might also feel vilified under a Trump administration include people of color, LGBT people and American Muslims and Jews.

Streep’s sincere recognition of both Kovaleski’s disability and his profession was incredibly important. A reporter’s embrace of an identity does not automatically disqualify the veracity of the reporting. I identify as a member of the LGBT community, which makes me responsible for covering that community as fairly and accurately as possible, from pro-life conservative Republicans to pro-choice socialist Democrats, and all the freedom of expression choices in between and beyond. But being an LGBT-identifying journalist does not make me less patriotic or entice me to fudge the truth for my people or my country. A lie is a lie is a lie and “normalizing” lies erodes democracy for all of us.

Streep raised this during her speech. Holding those in power accountable, said Streep, is “why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood foreign press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, “because we’re going to need them going forward and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

Last November, the CPJ, which endeavors to protect journalists around the globe, became concerned about protecting press freedom in America. CPJ wrote a letter to Vice President-elect asking for a meeting.

“During the presidential campaign and since its conclusion, the climate for journalists has deteriorated sharply. President-elect Trump has obstructed major news organizations, attacked reporters by name, and contributed to a threatening climate for journalists covering the election,” the letter read, in part. “These actions in the United States set a terrible example for the rest of the world, where governments routinely justify intervention in the media by citing national security, and where vilification of the press by public figures creates a divisive environment ripe for attacks on press freedom.”

Perhaps people don’t know this—but like police, firefighters and other first responders, journalists rushtoward the scene of a crime or an explosive event. It is our job to get and report the news so people will know what’s going on and can make electoral and life and death decisions accordingly. It is a noble profession, demeaned only by the bad apples among us and by demigods who want to manipulate the populace.

And those of us who belong to “the most vilified segments of American society right now” must be especially vigilant as we have entered an Orwellian, upside-down universe. Consider Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway’s spat with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, saying Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt when he says he denies mocking Kovaleski.

“You have to listen to what the president-elect has said about that. Why don’t you believe him? Why is everything taken at face value?” she asked Cuomo.“You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”(Emphasis mine)

And what do we see when we look at Trump’s heart? Perhaps his wife Melania Trump gave us some insight last October in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper after the whole Access Hollywood “pussy-grabbing” incident with Billy Bush.

“Sometimes I said I have two boys at home — I have my young son and I have my husband,” Melania Trump said.

That would explain Trump’s early Monday morning tweet calling Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.” If HE can’t win membership in the Hollywood club from which he so desperately craves adulation, he will try to diminish those the club celebrates as an icon.

Ethel Rosenberg’s son Robert Meeropol told Democracy Now that Meryl Streep looked like his mother in her Angels in America performance. Rosenberg’s death in the electric chair was ghastly, ordered by Cohn, even though she had no real part in the crime for which she and her husband were executed as traitors. As the assistant prosecutor, Cohn coerced and coached his mother’s brother into fabricating a story against her, Meerpol said, citing an FBI memo. “[Cohn] was in charge of twisting David Greenglass’s arm,”  He wants his mother exonerated.

Before his death from AIDS, Roy Cohn was Donald Trump’s mentor and lawyer for 13 years. As both the Washington Post and CNN reported Cohn had a tremendous influence on Trump’s brash style.

NEW YORK, NY - 1983: Donald Trump, Mayor Ed Koch, and Roy Cohn attend the Trump Tower opening in October 1983 at The Trump Tower in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – 1983: Donald Trump, Mayor Ed Koch, and Roy Cohn attend the Trump Tower opening in October 1983 at The Trump Tower in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

Maybe, like me, Trump got stuck on that clip of Streep portraying Ethel Rosenberg at the bedside of  the dying Roy Cohn. Interestingly, just as Streep called for actors to portray empathy and human compassion in their work, so too does Streep’s Rosenberg seem to forgive Cohn after he apologizes for the harm he’s done. In an amazing, albeit quiet act of forgiveness, she says the Kaddish over him—only to have Pacino’s Cohn sit straight up in bed and laugh at her for being taken in.

Might that be an example of what we might expect from believing what’s in Trump’s heart and not his words?

Streep as Ethel Rosenberg:



  1. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your site.
    It appears like some of the written text in your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening
    to them as well? This might be a issue with
    my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Appreciate it

  2. I’ve been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this sort of house .
    Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website.
    Reading this info So i am satisfied to show that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling
    I came upon exactly what I needed. I such a lot no doubt will
    make certain to don?t overlook this website and provides it a
    glance regularly.

  3. Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.

    Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal
    but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m
    thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure
    where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?
    Thank you

  4. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my
    blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter
    updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and
    was hoping maybe you would have some experience with
    something like this. Please let me know if you run into
    anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward
    to your new updates.

  5. Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of information on your page.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hi there, You’ve performed an incredible job. I’ll certainly
    digg it and individually suggest to my friends.
    I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this web site.

  6. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic
    to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.

    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  7. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I
    have truly enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I’ll be
    subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you write once more

  8. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering
    if you knew of any widgets I could add to my
    blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.

    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have
    some experience with something like this. Please let me know if
    you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I
    look forward to your new updates.

  9. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need
    to publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people don’t
    speak about such subjects. To the next! Cheers!!

  10. Excellent goods from you, man. I have bear in mind your stuff prior to and you are simply
    too fantastic. I really like what you have acquired here,
    certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which wherein you assert it.
    You are making it enjoyable and you continue to care for to keep it sensible.

    I can’t wait to learn much more from you. That is actually a terrific

  11. Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and net and this is actually annoying. A good blog with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  12. You’re completely right! I loved reviewing this info and I will come back for more straight away. My own internet site is dealing with wealth generators app, you can have a look if you are interested in that.

  13. The root of your writing whilst sounding reasonable in the beginning, did not really settle properly with me after some time. Somewhere throughout the sentences you managed to make me a believer but just for a short while. I still have a problem with your leaps in assumptions and one might do nicely to help fill in those breaks. In the event that you actually can accomplish that, I could definitely end up being amazed.

  14. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

  15. Hey, I am so grateful I found out your blog, I actually discovered you by error, while I was researching on Digg for insta followers and likes. Nonetheless I’m here now and would simply like to say thanks for a great article and the overall entertaining blog (I likewise love the theme), I do not have enough time to look over it completely at the minute however I have bookmarked it and moreover added your RSS feed, so whenever I have sufficient time I’ll be back to look over a great deal more. Please do keep up the great work.

  16. “The write-up has proven useful to me personally. It’s very useful and you’re obviously extremely well-informed in this region. You have got opened my own eyes to be able to varying thoughts about this particular topic along with intriguing and solid content material.”

  17. Hi and thanks for this awesome write-up! I genuinely liked learning about.I will be sure to save this page and will come back later on. I wish to encourage you to keep on with your good work, perhaps talk about forex robot too, have a superb afternoon!

  18. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; we have created some nice procedures and we are looking to trade methods with others, why not shoot me an email if interested.

  19. I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I’ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here