Fox affiliate WOFL-TV in Orlando will not allow their news anchors Mike Dunston and Amy Kaufeldt to attend the Orlando Pride event "Come Out With Pride." The organizers of the October 12th event have been left trying to find new emcees for the event because, as a Fox station rep says, the pride event is "too politically controversial." The rep cited a "how to vote with pride" rally and the playing of a Barack Obama speech, but not a John McCain speech. It is a flimsy excuse, however, since the "vote with pride" is just a theme for an educational event and there is no Obama speech on the line-up of the event- and both campaigns have been invited to participate.
Mary Meeks, media/rally chair for Come Out With Pride, told the Orlando Sentinel in response:
We're disappointed and frankly disgusted.
Me too, Mary...
More after the jump.
David Baker-Hargrove, president of Come Out With Pride, also had his appearance on the community affairs program "Orlando Matters" on WOFL canceled this week. He learned the station was canceling his appearance via email on Monday due to a "scheduling snafu."
Convenient timing, it would seem.
Here's the release from Come Out With Pride:
Management at the News Corp owned, Fox affiliate in Orlando cancels the scheduled appearance of their news anchors at the annual Gay Pride event
(ORLANDO, FL) "Upon further reflection," the promotions manager of Fox affiliate WOFL-TV, James McKay, informed the Come Out With Pride 2008 Organizing Committee on September 25th that news anchors Mike Dunston (pictured top) and Amy Kaufeldt (pictured below) will not be permitted to emcee the opening ceremonies at the Come Out With Pride celebration at Orlando's Lake Eola Park on October 12th. Fox 35 initially approached the event organizers earlier this summer and requested to be a part of the festivities which drew an attendance of 30,000 last year. Fox 35 representatives, including the enthusiastic news anchors, met with Come Out With Pride committee members on September 11th, and the TV channel's participation was subsequently promoted in press releases and print ads. At this late hour, organizers are now scrambling to find replacement emcees.
According to McKay, the Central Florida Fox affiliate (407-644-3535) recently had second thoughts about being associated with a Gay Pride event. Although WOFL-TV regularly takes part in community events like the Orlando Home Show, March of Dimes Galas, American Cancer Society fundraisers, and the Central Florida Home and Garden Show, the management decided "upon further reflection" that a Gay Pride event was too "politically" controversial. "It's a sad reality that some media outlets have been cowed by the right-wing, anti-gay movement in this state which has shamefully vilified the gay community for decades. Someday we hope all people will understand that gay people are everywhere, in every newsroom, in every walk of life, and that our very existence on earth is not "political," said Pride committee member, Mary Meeks.
Orlando's Come Out With Pride is an annual celebration of self-acceptance and tolerance that takes place during the weekend of National Coming Out Day each October. This year's confirmed participants include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Daisy Lynum, State Representative Scott Randolph, and Orlando Police Chief Val Demings. Central Florida is home to over 167,300 self-identified gay and lesbian residents, and the state of Florida is home to over 1 million gay and lesbian citizens.
What a sad state of affairs. A news agency seeks to participate in a community event, then changes its mind, pulls out, and cancels any coverage of the event. The only thing that seems "too political" about this situation is the decision of WOFL.