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When a group called One Million Moms called for Ellen DeGeneres to be fired from her new job as spokesperson for JCPenney, the comedian used her show to respond, and she noted in passing how their name doesn't add up.
"Not that there's anyone counting, but for a group that calls themselves the million moms, they only have 40,000 members on their page," she mentioned as part of a response on her talk show. "They're rounding to the nearest million, and I get that."
Now a counter Facebook group has started that has already found more supporters than "One Million Moms." In 24 hours, the group called "1 Million people who support Ellen for JCPenney" had already surpassed "One Million Moms" in likes. At about 1 p.m. ET, it had more than 90,000 likes, which is more than double the other side. And by about 3 p.m., it had broken the 100,000 mark. So far, the likes keep counting, putting the page on a path toward substantiating its own name.
"I can't believe that 24 hours ago, this page only had 38 likes," wrote the group's founder, Cathie Winter Miller, on Thursday. "I wrote it down on my calendar hoping to be at 150 today. This is truly amazing and I thank everyone for your support! Keep sharing and let's get to a million!"
An unusual cross-section of characters have supported DeGeneres, who One Million Moms had said would send customers from "traditional families" to other stores. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said the campaign amounted to "a witch hunt, and it shouldn't happen."
"What is the difference between a McCarthy era Communist blacklist in the '50s and the Million Moms saying, 'Hey, JCPenney and all you other stores, don't you hire any gay people. Don't you dare?" O'Reilly said.
Radio host Howard Stern also defended DeGeneres on his show.
"I am not the world's biggest Ellen DeGeneeres fan, but I'll tell you what: I will defend her to the end," Stern said. "If JCPenney fires Ellen DeGeneres, I will call on all of my listeners to boycott JC Penney. I mean I was so outraged."
The department store has shown no sign of backing away from its deal with DeGeneres. Taking just the opposite tack, its CEO Ron Johnson was a guest on CBS News and reiterated his company's support for her.