Monday, July 11, 2011

NY Times Slaps GLAAD

Following on the heels of a similar editorial in the Boston Globe, albeit one that excellently zeroed in only on the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Saturday's New York Times cast a jaundiced eye at AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile and the phone giant using nonprofits to push its agenda before the FCC.

The editorial, coming weeks after these matters captured the attention of many bloggers, gay and mainstream online and print media, and net neutrality advocates, is certainly welcome but I do wonder why it's appearing this late in the narrative. There's also the curious fact that the Times has not written about the donations-and-merger controversy in the national or business news sections.

A few comments related to the piece. The Gray Lady in recent years has become so enamored of Gay Inc groups and the people who run them, with nary a negative word or hint of criticism included, that the paper is seen by some as the Gay Lady. Not a healthy situation.

See Sheryl Gay Stolberg's piece on the Gay & Lesbian Victor Fund or Bob Morris' story on the Trevor Project's recent fundraiser for examples of mouthpiece journalism at the Times.

Excerpts from Saturday's editorial:

It seems surprising that organizations dedicated to advocating for gays and lesbians, African-Americans or teachers could take such a burning interest in telecoms that they would endorse AT&T’s $39 billion plan to buy T-Mobile, which is under review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.

Yet since it announced the deal in March, AT&T’s proposed megamerger has garnered the support of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Education Association, among others.

... Glaad said AT&T had a good track record on issues that matter to gays and lesbians. All three noted that AT&T was a union shop and T-Mobile was not. These are all positive things, for sure, but what have they to do with the cellphone market?And the money is causing discomfort within some of the organizations.

... The president of Glaad, Jarrett Barrios, resigned last month as controversy grew over the organization’s support of the merger after it received $50,000 from AT&T. Mr. Barrios also disavowed a letter sent from his office to the F.C.C. last year supporting AT&T’s opposition to the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules, which would bar telecom companies like AT&T from blocking or discriminating against rivals’ data flowing through their wires. ...

AT&T has the right — as a huge corporation, indeed, the duty — to make philanthropic donations. They are just not a good basis to decide the future of the nation’s telecommunications. 

Yes, and allowing AT&T to set a corrupt gay group's agenda, one that was decided behind closed doors without any transparency, raises additional questions about the relevancy of GLAAD.


Jeff said...


Regarding this Gay Inc. / AT&T scandal,

3) Most of the major LGBT groups and big city LGBT groups do little to reach out to small town/rural/suburbia LGBT populations. Oh sure, sometimes they’re reactive if something happens in the news and presents them an opportunity to seize on a headline-grabbing story they can attach there name to. However, even when they have “field organizers” and/or have “chapter leaders” in regions, they often end up doing nothing proactively to reach out to small town/rural/suburbia LGBT populations – usually only reactive. I recently interviewed numerous LGBT group vendors at LA & SF Pride ( and and I asked the people I spoke with about their advice for small town LGBT folk. They mostly all answered “visit our web site for resources.” Bull! Clearly these groups are doing nothing to build long-lasting LGBT fellowship/socializing opportunities, support, education, and community involvement at the local level for LGBT folk.

Lastly, doesn’t the money that corporate foundations like ATT&T give to groups like GLAAD just come from the profit made off of customers? Wouldn’t it be better to stop donating to social issue causes and put that money into providing a better and cheaper product/service? As we see with the AT&T scandal, we the customers end up paying for nonprofits to be used as lobbying puppets. Here’s another example of waste. Why doesn’t AT&T put the money into improved service instead of lobbying nonprofits to do more lobbying for them? It’s completely insane! There seems to be something conspiracy-theoryish going on with how foundations and nonprofits and lobbying goes together. In the end, the consumer/donor is just paying more and more for less and less.

This is another example of how LGBT organizations taking donations from corporations is not always best for LGBT folk – consider the countless tobacco and alcohol companies that donate to LGBT groups/events and also buy ads in LGBT media.

All the equality in the world will not change anti-gay areas overnight. Even if marriage equality was still legal in California, there would still be many anti-gay areas in this state where LGBT are isolated and in fear. We’ve got to do some re-thinking here. In the meantime, donate to local on the ground activists and ignore the big LGBT groups that ignore you.

If you feel me on this, connect with me at - my social media links are on the left hand side.



Worth reading:
Corporate Philanthropy Inspires Trust: Does It Also Prompt Higher Profits?

Jeff said...

Regarding this Gay Inc. / AT&T scandal,

Regarding this Gay Inc. / AT&T scandal,

1) There is no reason for me or any other low income LGBT person to donate to an LGBT group that has an Executive Director making a 6 figure salary. Defenders argue that a 6 figure salary helps attract "the best" - as we see with Jarrett Barrios, Geoff Kors, and Joe Solmonese this theory is absurd. I have no interest in donating to a gay millionaire. What’s more, a 6 figure salary is an excellent incentive to NOT work harder for advancing civil rights. Why work yourself out of a job if you make a 6 figure salary? A better idea would be to support chapter-based groups with local, grass-roots decision making processes - instead of top town/focus group tested/inflexible concepts forced from the top down. What’s more a better idea capping any ED salaries to two-figures, paying for more on-the-ground proactive field organizers instead of rich EDs, and ensuring paid staffers have livable wages and benefits.

2) Too many LGBT groups, while fostering LGBT label and classism segregation, are duplicating the same objectives and expenses wasting many of the dollars that LGBT people donate to them. The duplication in expenses includes web site costs, Executive Director salaries, and time spent "working on" the same issues/topics - take all of the major LGBT group's actions regarding the Tracy Morgan scandal for example. Really? A handful of the major LGBT groups competed for media time just to repeat the same comments about Morgan while pathetically adding their reaction to him as another example of their accomplishments and why we need to donate to them. Why didn’t they just let one group such as GLAAD deal with it?

If you don’t think there are too many LGBT groups doing the same thing, think hard about why it’s necessary for PGLAG, GLSEN, and GSA to exist as separate organizations instead of them all merging. Does anyone have any comments about how this duplication is beneficial? Why do we need Immigration Equality & Out4Immigration? Why do we need Courage Campaign and Marriage Equality USA and EQCA and Get Equal?

The answer is probably because the most prominent or original group was unaccommodating to new ideas or the founders of the new group are part of a cooperate agenda and/or an executive director needs a new job.