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    April 20, 2008

    Tough times for an old friend

    Posted by: Chris

    Quest I read the news today and oh boy (that's a Beatles reference, for you young'uns). My old friend Richard Quest, who anchors CNN's "Business Traveler" and his own show "Quest," was arrested in Central Park last Friday for being there after-hours and for possession of crystal meth.

    I have known Richard since college. When I was an undergrad at Vanderbilt, Richard was there working on his LLB, a master's degree in law. We were both "tunnel rats," working in the student media offices in a tunnel of the student center. I was editor of the school paper, the Vanderbilt Hustler (we had the name first) and then Versus, the student magazine. Richard was a DJ at WRVU, the college radio station.

    Richard was one of a kind, even back in the '80s. (Yes, we're that old.) A Brit from Leeds with a big curly 'fro easily stood out on our conservative, Southern campus. His hilarious, quirky personality was contagious and I had a total blast every time we hung out together.

    He even recruited me to do the sports portion (stop laughing) of his regular news reports. I'll never forget the time he invited me to guest DJ with him, even picking the records to play. I violated every rule of college radio; I'm not sure the station's reputation has yet recovered from the Styx triple-play I inflicted on Nashville.

    Even then, it was clear Richard's personality was way too big for radio. So it was only mildly surprising to hear he turned up as a regular on BBC, although that staid network seemed a bit of a misfit. A few years after, I would catch him as a late-night anchor on CNN, where the broadcast time allowed him to be more himself. (I remember Anderson Cooper in his ABC late-night new gig, too, around the same time.)

    Right about that time, Richard tracked me down. During one of his trips to CNN's Atlanta headquarters, he picked up the Southern Voice, Atlanta's gay newspaper, and saw I was the editor. We eventually met up when I was visiting London and renewed our friendship. Turns out we were both closet cases at Vandy -- one of dozens more I never would have imagined at the time. Richard is openly gay in an industry where others lack the courage to be. (Are you listening, Anderson?)

    The great success and fame (especially outside the U.S., where he is on-screen at CNN multiple times daily) hadn't changed Richard at all. He was and is the same cheeky, genuine, unique person he was then.

    As difficult as I know this time must be for Richard, and the knives are certainly out for him, I have zero doubt that will recover from all of this. He's already agreed to a six-month drug treatment program that will result in the charges being dropped.

    Hopefully CNN will stand by "one of the most instantly recognizable members of the CNN team." Living outside the U.S., I have been able to view both of his shows much more often. "Quest," in particular, tackles unusual subjects in an entertaining way, and with a depth that is unusual for fast-paced cable news.

    Whatever CNN decides, I am sure Richard will survive and thrive; he's got way too much talent going for him, and I wish him nothing but the absolute best.



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    1. Tim on Apr 21, 2008 1:47:41 PM:

      if he's rolling around on meth he deserves the trouble he's in. Using a drug that has destroyed so many lives and is far worse than getting caught in the park playing around. If they want to impress people that they are serious they should charge him and deport him.

    1. Jenn on Apr 21, 2008 2:32:43 PM:

      If they want to impress people that they are serious they should charge him and deport him.---

      Why would they need to do that? I'm glad no one in comment sections have any influence on our legal system. He is getting the help he needs. Let him try instead of enacting over reaching and unnecessary punishments.

    1. mark on Apr 21, 2008 3:15:14 PM:

      The problem Jenn (and I happen to agree that the drug laws are daft) is that he's a famous, white professional. If he was a black kid, do you think there would be the same offer of treatment in lieu of charges?

      Of course not. So it's not that the laws are daft, it is that they are not applied anything like fairly.

    1. Double T on Apr 21, 2008 3:26:08 PM:

      # 1
      Oh Chris, you are a funny guy.

      Help me out here. It’s ok to OUT a private citizen who’s job is to read the news off a teleprompter at CNN. That’s Ok in the World-of-Crain.(Are you listening, Anderson?)

      But to OUT an elected official who lies about who he is, who aids in the passage of laws against gays and publicly demonizes the GLBT community, OUTing that person is an unspeakable sin.


      # 2
      I’m sorry to hear about your friend. We often forget the ones we love and admire have all the same frailty embodied in any and all human beings. I wish him well.

      Jenn, you're wrong on two counts. Every American in the comment section has influence on our legal system. And, if you're a "guest" in a country shouldn't you be held to a higher standard of obeying the law. If you're unhappy with the law and/or it doesn't apply to you, should you be here?

      Chris, if Brazil caught you in a similiar situation, what would happen?

    1. knotty boy on Apr 21, 2008 4:30:02 PM:


      TYING ONE ON: CNN broadcaster Richard Quest was busted in the wee hours in Central Park yesterday with a rope tied to his neck and genitals. "I've got some meth in my pocket," he helpfully told the arresting officer.
      April 19, 2008 --

      This is CNN? Kinky!

      CNN personality Richard Quest was busted in Central Park early yesterday with some drugs in his pocket, a rope around his neck that was tied to his genitals, and a sex toy in his boot, law-enforcement sources said.

      Quest, 46, was arrested at around 3:40 a.m. after a cop spotted him and another man inside the park near 64th Street, a police source said.

      The criminal complaint against Quest said the park was closed at the time - something Quest should have known because of all the signs saying "Park Closed 1 a.m. to 6 a.m."

      Quest was initially busted for loitering, the source said. Aside from the oddly configured rope, the search also turned up a sex toy inside of his boot, and a small bag of methamphetamine in his left jacket pocket.

      It wasn't immediately clear what the rope was for.

      The criminal complaint says the officer at the scene was able to ID the drug because of "his prior experience as a police officer in drug arrests, observation of packaging which is characteristic of this type of drug, and defendant's statements that . . . 'I've got some meth in my pocket.' "

      He was charged with loitering and criminal possession of a controlled substance. His unusual get-up didn't lead to a lewdness charge because he wasn't exposing himself, the police source said.

      Quest's unidentified companion was given a summons for not carrying any identification, the source said.

      Quest's lawyer, Alan Abramson, had a much more innocuous version of events.

      "Mr. Quest didn't realize that the park had a curfew," Abramson said. He was simply "returning to his hotel with friends."

      At a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court, Quest agreed to undergo six months of drug counseling in return for an "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal," which means the misdemeanor charges against him will be dropped and the case sealed if he stays out of trouble and completes his drug program.

      He was released with no bail after spending most of the day behind bars.

      Abramson predicted after the hearing that "the case will be dismissed." He declined to answer questions.

      Quest, known for his hollering antics and stunts on the cable news network and its international counterpart, declined comment, as did a CNN spokeswoman.

      On his official CNN bio, the network calls him "one of the most instantly recognizable members of the CNN team."

      "He has become one of the network's highest profile presenters," and his "dynamic and distinctive style has made him a unique figure in the field of business and news broadcasting," the network's Web site says.

      He was reportedly once offered a position for the English-language version of the controversial Al Jazeera network, but said he turned it down because being gay and Jewish, he didn't think it would be a good fit.

      Additional reporting by Adam Buckman

    1. Chuck on Apr 21, 2008 5:09:29 PM:

      It's important to emphasize as you point out that Richard Quest was widely known by most CNN viewers to be openly gay while Anderson Cooper is so closeted that virtually no one suspects his true orientation. Like you, I abhor the despicable and vicious act of 'outing' and would disagree with you making any assumptions about Anderson's private life.

      One thing we can all agree upon is that Richard is a wonderful person whether he uses crystal meth or not. The fact that he was caught at night in the park with another man, with ropes around his penis, a dildo, and illegal drugs. At least Richard doesn't contribute to stereotypes like a 'conservative' homosexual might if he was caught advertising for bareback orgies and "gang-bangs" while HIV+.

    1. Sam Weinberg on Apr 21, 2008 10:28:27 PM:

      let he who is without sin etc. richard quest is a rare personality amidst a sea of bland, white teeth on cable news. he is a dude among cattle and should be left in peace (charges for possession notwithstanding).

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Apr 21, 2008 10:29:23 PM:

      Many people are so quick to condemn and persecute someone famous. Why? To the best of my knowledge, Richard Quest has never said or done any action which in any way harms other gay people. There is no hypocrisy here to condemn as when an anti-gay politician is caught in a similar situation.

      Yes, our laws are applied unfairly, but that isn't the fault of Richard Quest. I rarely hear of people writing to their Congressman or other political leaders condemning the unfair treatment of black people or other racial minorities caught in our unfair drug laws every single day across this nation.

      I don't know Richard Quest personally, but I have always enjoyed his style of reporting and I hope CNN and the BBC keep him in their employ. I will continue to enjoy his reporting which showcases his unique personality.

    1. Tom Wood on Apr 22, 2008 12:19:08 PM:

      Thanks, Chris, for speaking up on behalf of our old friend. I know him as a good and very kind man who has remained just as accessible and fun to be with in his stardom as he was back at WRVU. I too believe he'll come through this crisis all right, and I hope he has as much dismissive contempt for those spewing hatred about him as I do.

    1. Nick on Apr 22, 2008 2:56:29 PM:

      I just thought Questy was on "something" in a joking way because he was always happy and smiling. I had no idea he was gay or Jewish. I guess I really didn't care. But it shows that anyone can be on meth and it's not a "hillbilly drug."

      Being a straight guy, I never understood why gays feel like they need to out someone. I could really care less if Anderson's gay - he's just a dude who reads a teleprompter and occasionally goes somewhere cool. To be blunt - who he's fucking on his own time really holds no sway over anything.

    1. Chris on Apr 22, 2008 3:43:09 PM:

      Double T: I'm always happy to help you out. I have written more times than I care to remember that "outing" someone does NOT include speculating about their sexual orientation or reporting that they are closeted. "Outing" is reporting the private sexual details of someone's life to support a claim about their sexual orientation.

      Anderson Cooper is an admitted closet case. Like Ken Melhman, Ricky Martin, Sean Hayes, Clay Aiken and others, he refuses to answer questions about his sexual orientation. That refusal means they are closeted, whatever their actual sexual orientation.

      I would also note that practically no one who is heterosexual is closeted about their sexual orientation, making it a fair bet that someone who is closeted is probably gay. To me, that justifies my shot at Anderson.

      One other thing: Andersoon Cooper spoke briefly at a GLAAD Awards ceremony in New York back when he was at NY-1 -- before he was famous. And he said from the podium that he was there in part to see if he could get a date. So in my book that means he has acknowledged he is gay -- in a room full of activists and media types, no less -- and yet refuses to do so now.

      I hope that clears things up.

    1. Double T on Apr 22, 2008 9:19:00 PM:

      You talk a good talk.

      I have no problem with OUTing anyone in public office. I believe it's a right to know the people who are in positions of power & influence(incl clergy)

      Other public figures, actors, musicians, TV anchors, the UPS guy in the tight shorts.

      The line there is blurry.

      I read your response and it sounded a little like splitting hairs.

      "outing" someone does NOT include speculating about their sexual orientation or reporting that they are closeted.....if you report that they are a closeted gay man, this is not OUTing them?

      I just glanced at the Wikipedia definition, OUTING publicising that someone is gay.

      I guess we'll agree to disagree on this one.

    1. Chris on Apr 22, 2008 9:33:39 PM:

      TT: I'm not sure which of us is splitting hairs. It doesn't matter to me whether you call speculation about sexual orientation that does not reveal private sexual details to be "outing" or not. If, as you say, it is outing, then fine. I am fine with outing someone so long as it remains speculation based on public facts as well as those private facts that the person him/herself chooses to reveal. Outing is wrong, I believe, when media/bloggers/activists go snooping into the private sex life of individuals.

    1. Amicus on Apr 24, 2008 10:26:35 AM:

      I'm late to this story. I hope Richard navigates his way out of what looks like an crazy mess.

      As far as corporate America, who knows?

      True or false: You can beat drugs. You can beat adultery. You can best being gay. It's really, really hard to beat "kinky", still, disproportionately so if you are gay.

      Let's hope six months from now, no one will care. The drug charge, paradoxically, might be in his favor ...

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