Bruce Jenner was interviewed by Diane Sawyer on 20/20 last week and told the world about his journey to become a woman. Bruce Jenner explained about how he’s felt and what he needs to do to fulfill his life. Thanks to the interview we were exposed to something we don’t usually see on national television, especially from a reality show star: someone speaking honestly and openly from their heart.
Here’s how Variety Magazine evaluated the interview: “Audiences turned out in big numbers Friday night for ABC’s much-anticipated two-hour Bruce Jenner interview on “20/20,” which drew the newsmagazine’s highest ratings in key demos on the night in more than 15 years.
Nielsen estimates that Diane Sawyer’s sitdown with the former Olympic decathlete-turned-reality star averaged a 5.2 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 16.9 million viewers overall. That will make it the week’s top-rated program in all categories as well as the top non-sports program in the young-adults demo since the season finale of Fox’s “Empire” in mid-March.
This is the best 18-49 result on a Friday for “20/20” since March 2000, when Barbara Walters interviewed the parents of JonBenét Ramsey. And it’s the highest for any Friday non-sports broadcast on any network since 2003…” Roughly 68% of the 18-49 audience for the special was male.
The interview was also a very big topic of conversation on social media. According to Nielsen Social, “Bruce Jenner: The Interview” drew 972,000 tweets from 403,000 unique authors, ranking as the most social Friday telecast of all time, excluding sports.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the interview was not actually Bruce Jenner’s revelation that he was a transgender American but that he considers himself a conservative Republican.
“Are you a Republican?” Sawyer asked Jenner. “Yeah,” he responded. “Is that a bad thing?”
“Neither political party has a monopoly on understanding,” Jenner told Sawyer, who suggested the Olympian ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner for help championing the cause of the transgender community.
“I would do that in a heartbeat,” Jenner answered. “Yeah, why not?”
At least one Republican group was quick to reach out to Bruce Jenner. Log Cabin Republicans’ National Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said: “As the nation’s only organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies, Log Cabin Republicans congratulates Bruce Jenner in the tremendous courage he demonstrated tonight, being true to himself both in terms of his personal identity as well as his political identity. There is a home for you in Log Cabin Republicans – as there is for all lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender conservatives and straight allies.”
While the immediate big story is Bruce Jenner’s revelations – both that he’s transgender and a conservative Republican – and the story to watch will be how the GOP grapples with the responsibilities and consequences of being a big tent political party, the immediate learning for all of us is the power of identifying, accepting, and promoting one’s authentic truth.
What Jenner has done, and what the viewing numbers for his 20/20 interview prove, is just how compelling and congruent speaking from the heart can be. And by setting the bar as high as the ones he jumped over in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Jenner has courageously dared policymakers and marketers alike to be as open and honest as he has been. The power of Bruce Jenner’s statements came not because they were rehearsed but specifically because they weren’t. Bruce Jenner’s authentic truth, and the honest way he presented his truth, will change the world.