Bil Browning

GLAAD Chief Resigns Over AT&T FCC Flap

Filed By Bil Browning | June 18, 2011 6:45 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: AT&T, FCC filings, GLAAD, Jarrett Barrios, resignations

I'd said privately that GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios should resign over the recent controversy surrounding the group's endorsement of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and the discovery that he lied about his involvement in an anti-net neutrality letter wholly written by AT&T and sent to the FCC on his behalf, but now it's official. GLAAD confirms that Jarrett Barrios has stepped down.

Ben Smith at Politico reported earlier today that the board's executive committee met and voted in favor of firing the embattled leader.

GLAAD will issue a full statement later this evening. I'll update the post when it comes in.

Catch up on the controversy with additional coverage from The Bilerico Project:

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Just him the whole board ought to forced out over the incredibly dishonest media guide.

GLAAD really does not care about trans* people, be it transsexual or transgender. The AT&T merger and the money they received as a result of it was more important than protecting negative stereotypes in the media.

GLAAD is a useless organization that picks their battles and allows conflicts of interest to take precedence over the job they are expected to do by their other underwriters and private donors.

I agree with you on the Media Guide. Transsexual is anything but outdated. The word is more alive than ever!!!

I don't know a lot about Barrios, but everything I did know seemed to indicate to me that he just wasn't the right guy to lead this org. He seemed far too much a part of the elite gay crowd and not nearly enough of a serious activist. Then again, I've felt for quite some time now that GLAAD should spend a lot less time throwing galas and mingling with stars and a lot more on the real down and dirty work of media advocacy. I hope they put a real hands-on grassroots activist in that position. GLAAD desperately needs to start getting its hands dirty and advocating more effectively for LGBT representation in the media, even when, and in fact especially when, it pisses off the big-money elites.

I agree. I hope GLAAD makes a turn for the relevant. They've picked some fights I disagree with, like with media allies.

Barrios was an elitist "A-List Gay" who was absolutely the wrong person to be leading GLAAD. GLAAD needs to get more grass roots, more representative of the entire LGBTQ spectrum and stop kissing the behinds of gay media which denigrate trans people. Even more important, that organization needs more daylight and to get more transparent about their finances and activities. Barrios didn't just leave because of AT&T... I'm positive why he left had as much or more to do with financial mismanagement and the degree of disrespect GLAAD is incurring in the queer and trans communities and that its bad rep is finally impacting fundraising.

Our movement is run by Corporate Whores now.

This is great news, thanks for covering this issue, Bil!

Now can you give us some advice for how LGBT folks can get involved in stopping the merger?

This is an important story for those of us who track Astroturf and other dollar-a-holler groups that accept corporate dollars and then spew out letters on behalf of their public policy agenda. Barrios is hardly the only example of this. We've been tracking this issue for nearly three years on Stop the Cap!, a consumer site dedicated to fighting for better broadband.

AT&T donates enormous sums to civil rights groups, lends their employees to participate in leadership roles in these organizations, and in return often wins support for company matters currently before Washington policymakers. That's why a group like GLAAD, which has no predictable reason to participate in a debate over Net Neutrality or a multibillion dollar merger with T-Mobile, is suddenly penning letters conceived by AT&T and sent to the FCC and other regulators on GLAAD letterhead.

You see this with non profit groups like NAACP, LULAC, National Grange, the US Cattlemen's Association, and many others large and small. Of course this merger will do absolutely nothing for LGBT interests, but it will do plenty for board members with ties to AT&T and to the bank account.

For those interested in fighting to stop the merger and learning more about its implications, please Google us at Stop the Cap!

I'd like to thank the excellent work of this site, Michelangelo Signorile, and the other community blogs for helping give us one of the most detailed accounts of the dollar-a-holler skunkworks in action. Too often, these advocacy letters get sent out with no knowledge by supporters, and they almost always work against the best interests of the individual members these groups claim to represent.

Phillip Dampier
Editor, Stop the Cap!