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06/22/2011

An all-out CRAAP Storm (with two a's)

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2011-06-22 At 9.37.08 AmAround here, we try to avoid in-movement dramas as best we can. But honestly: This GLAAD thing has gotten so out of hand and potentially damaging to our movement, that it simply cannot be ignored anymore.

As you've surely heard: GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios is stepping down, after a number of controversies came to light. Michelangelo Signorile has been all over the story:

[Barrios'] resignation capped a controversy that began with the startling news of GLAAD's backing of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and then reports of a letter to the FCC written by GLAAD opposing net neutrality, which was later withdrawn. The circumstances around that letter had been covered up by GLAAD and Barrios, until he finally admitted he had sent the letter. Allegations that Barrios was trading favors with board members, including AT&T's Troup Coronado, were first made by former board co-chair Laurie Perper on my show last week.
Breaking: GLAAD President Resigns [Signorile]
GLAAD, AT&T, Barrios: The Fallout Continues [Signorile]

As more, like the Washington Blade's Phil Reese, dug on the story, they found that the key board member in this controversy has a somewhat surprising past with the (anti-LGBT rights) Heritage Foundation:

But the story didn’t end with Barrios’ resignation, as several other LGBT organizations were pulled into the fray, either by close association to AT&T, a paper trail of their own similar letters or a connection to a GLAAD board member at the center of the controversy, Troup Coronado.

Coronado occupied seats on the boards of no less than four LGBT organizations in 2009, at the time the letters to the FCC began to emerge from these organizations’ head offices.
...
Screen Shot 2011-06-22 At 8.57.45 Am-1After an investigation into Coronado’s past, the Blade has discovered that a Troup Coronado who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin the same year as AT&T’s Coronado, and whom an anonymous source confirmed is the same person, appeared in several CSPAN videos from 1991-1993 as a representative of the anti-gay conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation.
...
The Heritage Foundation declined to comment about the purpose of this now-defunct program, but according to a July 14, 1991 Newsweek article by Charles Lane, titled “Defying the stereotypes,” the project is defined as the body’s “minority outreach program.”

A search of the Heritage Foundation archives reveals transcripts of presentations given on behalf of the program including controversial conservative figures such as Errol Smith, who would go on in 1996 to serve as vice chair of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which successfully pushed for a ballot measure prohibiting the use of so-called “Affirmative Action” at California public institutions. Coronado was present for Smith’s February 1992 speech before Heritage Foundation members on racism in the African-American community, and was referenced several times in the text of the speech.

GLAAD President Resigns Under Pressure [Wash. Blade]

*SEE ALSO: Coronado, in his Heritage role, touting Carence Thomas

*Even more conservative questions from Jane Hamsher: GLAAD’s Troup Coronado Helped Put Bush Judges On the Bench [FDL]

In the wake of all this, other very prominent board members are resigning from the org:

GLAAD board member Gary Bitner confirmed in an email to POLITICO on Tuesday that he had resigned. Five other board members — including Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers — also have submitted their resignations, according to the POLITICO source who is familiar with the matter.
Six GLAAD board members resign amid AT&T flap [Politico]

All in all, the whole thing is a *HUGE* black eye for an organization that was already no stranger to criticism. We are a movement that is always struggling to grab mainstream media headlines and get our stories out to the world. This was not the way to do it.

Again: This site takes no joy in covering this in-movement stuff. In fact, it makes me angry that I even have to write about this. But the reality is that this one has gone way beyond the normal, into the realm of serious liability. It's now time for tough, honest, reflective decisions about this organization, its mission, and its future. Decisions not only for the GLAAD board rooms and executive offices, but rather for all of us who make up and foster the equality movement. The ones who own *all* of these organizations.

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