by Dan Savage
on Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 7:14 AM
Let's catch up on the GLAAD saga, shall we?
A former GLAAD board member went on Mike Signorile's show and accused GLAAD's current leaders, including GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios, of running the organization into the ground. She also accused GLAAD's current leaders of sucking AT&T's dick. AT&T is a major donor to GLAAD and one of GLAAD's board members—Troup Coronado—is a former Vice President at AT&T. GLAAD's connection to AT&T may explain the following sequence of events: GLAAD's president sent a letter to the FCC more than a year ago that seemed to back net neutrality. AT&T opposes net neutrality, which is the current status quo, while almost all liberal and progressive groups support net neutrality. GLAAD sent a second letter to the FCC retracting its previous letter. This second letter claimed that the first letter had been forged and that GLAAD's president had no knowledge of it—he didn't know who wrote it, who signed his name to it, or who sent it. Then another letter was sent to the FCC by GLAAD: this letter backed the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, a merger most liberal and progressive groups oppose. GLAAD claimed that the merger would improve phone and web service and this would make it easier for LGBT organizations like GLAAD to get their messages out to their supporters. (It would also, as John pointed out at Americablog, make it easier for anti-gay groups to get their messages out, making the merger a wash for gay groups).
Back to Mike's show: former GLAAD board member Laurie Perper said the organization was in disarray and called for GLAAD to be dissolved. The head of GLAAD agreed to go on Mike's show to defend the organization... but at the last minute insisted that he be allowed to come on with a PR flack/minder/board member. Mike refused, GLAAD pulled out of the interview. GLAAD did speak to Bilerico—as did the PR flack, who told Bilerico that Barrios, GLAAD's president, wasn't "qualified" to speak about some of the issues that had been raised. (WTF?) GLAAD also told Bilerico that Barrios did, in fact, know who wrote, who signed, and who sent the letter Barrios retracted. Which means Barrios lied to the FCC, lied to the LGBT community, and dishonestly trashed Perper to cover his ass. Now Mike is calling on Barrios to resign.
And today one aspect of the GLAAD mess jumps to the straight press: Politico reports this morning that GLAAD, and other nonprofits, looks like its been bought:
AT&T is lining up support for its acquisition of T-Mobile from a slew of liberal groups with no obvious interest in telecom deals — except that they’ve received big piles of AT&T’s cash. In recent weeks, the NAACP, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Education Association have each issued public statements in support of the deal. The groups all say their public positions have nothing to do with the money they received from AT&T. And AT&T says it supports nonprofit groups because it’s the right thing to do — and not because of any quid pro quo. “For decades, AT&T has proudly supported numerous diverse groups and organizations,” a company spokesperson told POLITICO.
But not everyone’s buying it. “The money that nonprofits receive from their corporate sponsors sticks not only in their bank accounts but in their minds,” Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency, told POLITICO. “This is what I think of as deep lobbying — there is an expectation that when push comes to shove, these groups will come out in favor of their benefactors.”
GLAAD's a mess and, frequently, an embarrassment. Maybe it is time to pull the plug.