Media Ignore Pro-Family Protest of McDonald's 'Hate' Smear

Mainstream media outlets declined to cover a press conference held yesterday by conservative groups protesting a McDonald's spokesman who accused them of “hatred.”

A coalition of pro-family groups, spearheaded by the American Family Association (AFA), sponsored the press conference at the McDonald's world headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.  The coalition was accused of “hatred” by a company spokesman because they are boycotting McDonald's for sponsoring the homosexual agenda. 

At the press conference, Matt Barber, Director of Cultural Affairs for Liberty Counsel, explained what the McDonald's spokesman said that infuriated the boycotters. “While referring to Christians and other people with traditional values, McDonald's spokesman Bill Whitman arrogantly told The Washington Post that, 'Hatred has no place in our culture,' thereby suggesting that people who support the historical definition of marriage are simply motivated by 'hate.'”

Last spring McDonald's gave $20,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, an organization that “is committed to forming a broad-based coalition, representative of the various interests of LGBT owned and friendly businesses, professionals, and students of business for the purpose of promoting economic growth and prosperity of its members.”  The NGLCC advocates same-sex marriage and other homosexual agenda items. 

The NGLCC's Web site lists McDonald's as a corporate partner, and Richard Ellis, vice president of communications for McDonald's, now sits on the Board of Directors of the NGLCC.  AFA Chairman Don Wildmon has repeatedly asked McDonald's to withdraw its endorsement of the NGLCC and remain neutral in the cultural wars. 

In a May 29 reply to Wildmon, McDonald's instead expressed its commitment to the progressive “diversity” philosophy: “We have a well-established and proud heritage of associating with individuals and organizations that share in the belief that every person has the right to live and work in their community free of discrimination.” 

AFA responded on July 3 by declaring a boycott of McDonald's.  As of this writing, nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition to boycott Big Macs and Happy Meals. 

The announcement of the boycott sparked mentions on CNN and an article in the financial section of The Washington Post on the following day

Bill Whitman, USA spokesman of McDonald's, attempted to paint AFA and its members as hate-mongers by telling the Post “hatred has no place in our culture.  That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment.”  Post reporter Frank Ahrens also reported AFA's response:  “AFA says the boycott is not about McDonald's hiring or serving gay patrons or its treatment of gay employees.  Instead, the boycott is motivated by McDonald's throwing 'the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.'” 

CNN however, came out squarely in McDonald's corner during the July 4 Situation Room, repeating the “hatred” quote from the Post and featuring a guest who stated that corporations don't fear conservative boycotts as they do liberal boycotts. 

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, guest host: A conservative group that's boycotted Ford, Target and Disney in the past is now taking on the world's largest fast food chain. The American Family Association accuses McDonald's of promoting what it calls the gay agenda. CNN's Mary Snow joins us live. Mary, what are both sides saying about this controversy?

MARY SNOW: Suzanne, McDonald's says it promotes diversity. One conservative group says it amounts to supporting same-sex marriage.


SNOW (voice-over): Cheeseburgers in the middle of the culture wars? McDonald's fast food is the target of a boycott by the American Family Association. The group opposes same-sex marriage and its founder says he's protesting against McDonald's because it became a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and has an executive on the chamber's board.

DONALD WILDMON, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION: We asked McDonald's to remain neutral in the cultural war pertaining to the homosexuality and they let us know they did not intend to do that.

SNOW: On its Web site, AFA shows a link to a McDonald's ad highlighting its support of the gay community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McDonalds is proud of our commitment to a diverse workforce and our recognition by the Human Rights Campaign as a company that actively demonstrates its commitment to the gay and lesbian community.

SNOW: In reaction to the boycott a McDonald's spokesman told CNN this is about diversity and inclusion, which is the fabric of the company and the nation, saying, quote, "hatred has no place in our culture. That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment."

McDonald's is the latest multimillion dollar giant targeted by the AFA. The group which claims to have 2 million members online, has called for boycotts of Ford and Disney in the past citing a homosexual agenda. Eric Dezenhall … says boycotts can have different kinds of effects.

ERIC DEZENHALL, CEO, DEZENHALL RESOURCES: My experience has been boycotts from the right, while certainly they are inconvenient and cause heartache, they tend not to really affect sales and change policy. Whereas boycotts from the gay community, from the environmental movement, not only can have a tangible impact on sales, but impact corporate reputation and corporate policy.


SNOW: Now, why do boycotts coming from the right and left have different effects? Dezenhall says the kind of media coverage they get for one is different, and they said, follow the money. Progressive movements get a lot more money than right wing groups which shows what companies are afraid of and what they're not afraid of -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Mary, how does the issue of same-sex marriage enter the equation?

SNOW: You know, I spoke with a spokesperson for McDonald's who says, it has really nothing to do with this controversy. It says it is a member of this chamber of commerce which supports business opportunities for gays and lesbians. But the family -- the AFA says by association, it's supporting same-sex marriage. It says McDonald's can support any group they want to support, but it's asking its supporters to spend their money elsewhere.

MALVEAUX: OK. Mary Snow, thank you.


Media silence on AFA's boycotts is nothing new.  As reported in “Media Ignore Ford Boycott,” mainstream media failed to ask about the effect a two-year, AFA-led boycott of the Ford Motor Company had on the corporation's plunging profits, even though the controversy generated a fair amount of media attention at its inception.  AFA boycotted the automaker for its advertisements in homosexual-themed media and general sponsorship of the homosexual agenda.

The media is remiss in counting AFA down and out.  As Wal-Mart can attest, it is still a powerful force.  Just the threat of an AFA boycott prior to Black Friday 2006 due to the corporation's sponsorship of homosexual causes was enough for executives to announce that Wal-Mart “will no longer make corporate contributions to support or oppose controversial issues unless they directly relate to their ability to serve their customers.”

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center