Gay Leaders Urge Orbitz to Drop Fox News Ads

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com May 16 2011 2:15 PM ET

Several prominent gay rights groups are urging travel site Orbitz to drop its advertising from Fox News because of the network's antigay content.

Leaders from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Courage Campaign, and Equality Matters have all signed a letter to Orbitz CEO Barney Harford asking that his company stop advertising on Fox News.

The letter cites former Gov. Mike Huckabee hosting a show despite his statements in the past, comparing homosexuality with drug abuse, incest, pedophilia, and necrophilia. The letter also mentions host Bill O'Reilly warning about the dangers of allowing gay people to be near children, and others on the network "perpetuating the claim that repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' would impact troop readiness and morale, despite multiple reports -- including the Pentagon's -- to the contrary," according to a statement released Monday.

Orbitz has been a longtime advertiser to gay media outlets, including The Advocate, as well as gay pride and other events. It also has a gay-specific travel site, offering trips to LGBT-friendly destinations.

GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said companies like Orbitz, with a “strong track records of LGBT inclusion, should think twice before supporting Fox News’ pervasive pattern of indefensible bias against our community.”

“Orbitz loves gay dollars and, we hope, LGBT people, but by funding homophobes and charlatans like hosts Bill O'Reilly and Mike Huckabee, Orbitz sends the wrong message,” said Courage Campaign Founder and Chair Rick Jacobs. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can go to plenty of other travel sites. We count on Orbitz to do the right thing and stop buying advertising on Fox News Channel so that LGBT people can continue to shop with Orbitz. The alternatives are clear.”
 

A spokeswoman for Orbitz, sent The Advocate a statement Monday, sharing that the company was disappointed that GLAAD "mischaracterized [their] relationship with LGBT consumers," especially since it has worked with the organization in the past. The company also points out that it has a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Workplace Equality Index, and has sponsored several gay-themed events, in addition to its LGBT travel site.

 

"Our advertising, which integrates inclusive messaging reflective of our diverse audience, will continue to respect and serve the needs of ALL travelers no matter their politics, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender," Donahue said.

Media Matters, the parent organization to Equality Matters, has tracked Fox News' coverage of gay issues, showing a history of antigay opinions and content. It is also the force behind DropFox.com, the new initiative asking advertisers to stop purchasing spots on the news network. According to the site, the organizers say advertisers should abandon Fox News because it advances antigay bigotry, advances misinformation about climate science, and because it is a political operation masquerading as a news network.

Despite a strong following, Tea Party symbol and television personality Glenn Beck announced in February that he would be leaving Fox News. The announcement came after a boycott was called for in Summer 2009 to get companies to stop supporting Beck's show. An analysis of advertisers by Media Matters shows a massive drop in advertisers between July 2009, the height of advertising for his show, and winter 2009. While there was a bump in ad dollars going to Beck in early 2010, the show could not fully recover the losses.