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Why Is an LGBTQ Organization Taking Money From Fox News?

Fox News

No group that works for minority interests should be associated with a racist, misogynistic network.

None other than Laura Ingraham's gay brother called the Fox News talking head "a monster" last week. This was not long after Ingraham riled up couch potato racists by ranting against immigration and declaring "the America we know and love doesn't exist anymore." Fox News's Tucker Carlson echoed that white panic by recently ridiculing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's embrace of diversity.

"How, precisely, is diversity our strength?," he rhetorically asked this 242-year-old nation's first black president and its first female major-party presidential nominee. How is Ingraham and Carlson's worldview -- pleading for a homogeneous nation run by white, straight, Christian men -- any different from that of the KKK?

Carlson and Ingraham are two of the biggest personalities on what amounts to a right-wing propaganda network that holds sway over an audience of over 2.4 million people every day. Commentators like the two aforementioned push the race-baiting tactics Donald Trump rode to office, disregard his crimes, and kick Clinton and Obama like pinatas (which Carlson and Ingraham would probably ban if given the chance). With the exception of journalists like Shepard Smith, Brett Baier, and Chris Wallace, the network's stars have very little interest in delivering unbiased facts to the American people. Fox News is dangerous junk, and a growing number of people who work there have arrived at that conclusion.

Every noncomatose LGBTQ person knows Fox News stirs up resentment against them, especially if they're queer people of color (how many friends have said to you with a sigh, "My parents are regular Fox News viewers"?). So it was shocking when I attended the closing event of the National LGBTQ Journalists Association (NLGJA) last week in Palm Springs, Calif., only to hear that it was "sponsored by Fox News." When two people from the network got up on a podium to start patting themselves on the back for their diverse hiring practices, I walked out.

The irony was rich. Not only was my colleague Diane Anderson-Minshall being honored for her work as editorial director of The Advocate -- only the second woman to hold the position -- but so was Ronan Farrow, our muckraking hero, cracking open the ugliness of sexual assault and harassment in this country. Has that much time passed that we've collectively forgotten Fox News has long treated women like chattel, with monsters like Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and Bill Shine -- the latter accused of covering up sexual harassment and now working for confessed abuser Donald Trump -- running the network for decades?

It gets even more head-scratching when you realize NLGJA just elected its first person of color as president, CNN senior editor Sharif Durhams. The kind and capable Durhams was forced to handle a non-Fox News scandal hours before he officially took over as president. One of the closing event's emcees used shockingly disparaging terms to describe the audience, which was packed with people identifying as trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming. Likely with Durhams's urging, the emcee, meteorologist Marshall McPeek, apologized to the audience and later resigned from the organization. Durhams needs to act just as fast when it comes to dealing with his group's ties to Fox News.

As Durhams takes over an organization working to diversify its ranks, keep its members employed amid nonstop layoffs, and maintain its credibility at a time when the president calls the press the "enemy of the people," the journalist has an intimidating to-do list. Adding to that is the Fox News question and whether to stop taking its dirty money. It certainly won't be an easy decision -- especially when the media behemoth helps bankroll expensive events like last week's relatively lavish ceremony -- but it's a necessary one.

I want to be clear: LGBTQ employees of Fox News should not be disinvited or discouraged from being part of NLGJA. But Durhams and NLGJA's leadership need to think long and hard about whether they should still take money from the Murdochs, who own Fox News and make billions off of division and disinformation that affect our lives every day. Fox News can hire all the queer POC it wants, but until it stops giving racists like Ingraham and Carlson airtime -- and starts reporting on the abuses of the Trump administration -- any LGBTQ organization should be shamed for having any association with it.

NEAL BROVERMAN is the interim editorial digital director of The Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @nbroverman.

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