I first met Ann back in 1997. I flew to Washington, D.C., to meet the firehouse who was espousing incredible ideas on Fox and MSNBC, where she was constantly given the axe. I worked in publishing at Crown (a division of Random House, Inc.), and I was looking for outspoken voices to write books that would appeal not to my taste but to the masses. I was looking for diverse personalities who, like Rush Limbaugh, would stir the pot and get people all jumpstarted to debate. A potential author like Ann seemed the right fitting.
We had a fun-filled dinner. You could smoke in restaurants back then, and Ann was a tall, slight chimney of puffs. I thought she was engaging, funny and brilliant. We drank perhaps a little too much, and when I asked her what she would do when people asked her about gays, because I am one, she said, "I don't know yet. I have a lot of gay friends." Well, I became another one immediately.
Although I was a little hesitant at the start, I introduced her to Joni Evans, a literary agent who is a landmark in the field. Joni, too, fell for Ann and signed her as a client. I then invited Ann to New York City to meet my editor-in-chief, Steve Ross, and my publisher, Chip Gibson. We had a small cocktail party with wine and cheese. It was an Ann love fest, but I believe Chip and Steve thought she was too polarizing.
Ann would go on to sign with the conservative Regnery publishing house, and not long after Ann's visit I was fired, for unknown reasons. (One rumor, from publishing's reigning gossip columnist of the day, was that I was too close to the Gotti family and wrote letters to Mr. Gotti in prison. I was Victoria's editor and close friend. The FBI was concerned.) Ann and I stayed in touch, though, and soon Crown had offered her a three-book deal. In one of her books, Ann wrote, "For Sue Carswell -- to whom this book should have been dedicated. This book would not be the book it is without you (which will ruin you if anyone ever reads this)."
Later, Ann came to my birthday party and pretty much charmed everyone, as she did when she was a guest on Good Morning America, where I was then working as a story producer. Everyone in the green room, frightened at first, later came up to me and said, "Wow! She's not what I expected."
I believe Ann has two personalities: the vicious one that shoots up a storm on TV, and Ann-Ann, the nice one who is kind and thoughtful. It's like the curtain has been pulled off the Wizard of Oz. What we see is not the truth behind the scenes. Yes, Ann went all cray-cray on gay causes and issues, but that's Ann as Rush, Ann as a hurricane. I don't think Ann has a split personality, though; I believe she is purposely driven that way. How else could she be such a frequent guest on Joy Behar's shows? Joy is liberal, gay-friendly and a smart cookie, but she likes Ann.
I hope Ann keeps the obnoxious game going, because that's all it is, people. Aren't we a society that is built on debating issues? (And yes, I agree, Ann isn't the best listener to the other side.) I'm gay and proud of it, and Ann is perfectly content with my being so.