Orbitz to Review Ads on Fox News And Other Media, As Progressive Groups Urge Advertisers to Be Responsive to Anti-Gay Language


In response to a three-week campaign alerting Orbitz to the anti-LGBT programming their ad dollars support on Fox News, the travel agency has just announced that they will review their relationship with the right-wing network. "Orbitz has heard from the LGBT community about its concerns that its advertisements appear on programs which have objectionable content," said the company in a statement released today.

"In the coming weeks, Orbitz will conduct a review of programming on the full range of media we buy. We will also evaluate the best practices among other companies who share our core values to see what approaches they use when evaluating media placements."

Regarding ad purchases going forward, Orbitz confirmed that its "customers will see that our actions will reflect the values that Orbitz the brand, and company, embody."

Call it contemporary coalition-building: progressive groups are teaming up to pressure advertisers to stop giving money and legitimacy to Fox News--and they're getting results.

It’s been a long-accepted fact among many media-watchers that Fox News frequently veers into right-wing propaganda territory. Now a variety of groups are targeting Rupert Murdoch’s network not for its ideological standpoint, but for its peddling of specific untruths that are detrimental to their causes.

Specifically, LGBT groups are asking organizations to drop their advertising from the network because of Fox's acceptance of figures who have made grossly unjust anti-gay statements, and its far from fair-and-balanced reporting on “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Environmental groups are making the same request, citing the network’s repeated parroting of scientifically disproven climate-change denial. 

Other issue-related campaigns will be rolled out in coming weeks and months, says Angelo Carusone at DropFox (a subset of Media Matters for America), which was behind the successful "Stop Beck" campaign and is spearheading the more recent efforts.

The idea is to build coalitions and cohesion between individual constituent groups that have suffered as a direct result of Fox’s content--whether because of race-baiting, twisted facts or repeated smears.

Anti-Gay Smears

The LGBT-focused campaign is a prime example of how this type of advocacy works. The campaign targeted Orbitz, a supposed friend and ally of the gay community, urging the company to protest Fox's defamatory and counter-proven claims, which are essentially anti-gay smears.

The Advocate summed up last month's open letter from leaders of the Courage Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Equality Matters:

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.

Since the initial letter, there’s been a contentious back-and-forth between the signatory organizations, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Orbitz and even gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who headlined his post "Not Cool, Orbitz!" Queerty summarized the spat--in which O'Reilly called Orbitz "patriotic" for lashing out at the campaign--last week, here.

“Orbitz unfortunately treated this like a hostile campaign,” says DropFox's Carusone. "But it was a pretty positive letter that essentially lauded Orbitz for their strong support of the LGBT community--it was focusing on the content of Fox News and asking Orbitz if they are comfortable with that.” 

The campaign's partner organizations had reached out to Orbitz but at first, received only a public kiss-off in response. 

Still, as pressure grew, says Carusone, Orbitz changed tacks tried a less argumentative and more constructive approach with the members of the LGBT community who wrote the letter. The result was today's statement.

Climate Change Denial

As we know, television personalities at Fox News misrepresent scientific climate change findings all the time. The League of Conservation Voters was incensed by Fox News' history of climate change denial--including the outrageous finding that Fox reporters were explicitly instructed to deny the science--and along with Credo have also been targeting Orbitz due to its stated mission of being an environmentally friendly organization.

In their open letter and petition, the groups explained their reasoning: 

Fox, on the other hand, is actively working to speed the warming of our planet. Fox's Washington managing editor literally directed his staff to deny that the earth is warming. Fox has lied about the earth's temperature record, distorted scientific works and the statements of scientists, repeatedly suggested that snow disproves global warming, and promoted the bogus climate-gate scandal.

The LCV's members also took part in a vigorous Twitter and Facebook campaign, pushing Orbitz to acknowledge them via social media. 

In the past weeks, approximately 200,000 people signed petitions asking Orbitz to reconsider its advertisement on Fox news, and that doesn't include those who participated via online social media campaigns. 

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