GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios resigns
The president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Jarrett Barrios, resigned over the weekend. His departure comes as three of the most-prominent blogger-activists in the LGBT community were set to call on Barrios to step down, claiming that the gay media watchdog under his leadership has done the bidding of a corporate sponsor at the expense of the gay community.
Last week, Mike Rogers of the website PageOneQ, and Pam Spaulding, the proprietor of PamsHouseBlend.com, joined OutQ’s Michelangelo Signorile in calling on GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios to step down. [See Rogers’s and Spaulding’s statements below.]
The three activists argued that GLAAD’s decision to sign on to a letter supporting A-T-and-T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile; and revelations about a letter to the FCC backing A-T-and-T’s position against “net neutrality” in internet access–a letter that was subsequently withdrawn–depicted an organization that was, in Rogers’s words, “rudderless.” Barrios had admitted only to making a “mistake” by not personally reviewing the net neutrality letter before it was sent. But his resignation was confirmed Saturday evening by GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro, following reports by Politico’s Ben Smith that GLAAD’s executive committee had voted to remove him–and Barrios had initially resisted.
The bloggers’ criticism wasn’t limited to Barrios. Rogers and Signorile also expressed concern about the role of GLAAD board member Troup Coronado. Until recently, Coronado was a lobbyist for A-T-and-T. GLAAD has so far deflected questions about Coronado’s involvement in the A-T-and-T merger and net neutrality letters, saying only that the language for both was provided by A-T-and-T. But in a statement on an activists’ forum, Rogers says Coronado is to blame for the “fiasco” at GLAAD, and all three activists are still calling on Coronado to quit the GLAAD board.
Pam Spaulding says GLAAD’s troubles are a symptom of what she calls “institutional rot, where an organization reaches a stage where management goes astray from its mission and focuses on self-preservation.”
But GLAAD says it IS focused on its mission, and claims the proof that there’s no conflict of interest in accepting sponsorship money from corporations it’s supposed to police is that it continues to criticize those very same sponsors.
EXTENDED EXCERPT FROM MIKE ROGERS’S STATEMENT:
The moment I learned that GLAAD board member (former Orrin Hatch staffer and AT&T lobbyist) Troup Coronado was involved in this mess, I knew it would end in a disaster for GLAAD. Coronado has brought GLAAD to this place and now, because of him, the board and the president are losing credibility.* Another GOP flack hurting gays and caring more about himself than the causes he claims to love.*
With Jarrett refusing to go on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show without a board member (one who specializes in spin and damage control, no less), my confidence began to slowly erode. In my 30 years of non profit work, I have never heard of such a request, nor would I have agreed to fulfill it if I were in Mike’s position. Bil’s article disproved the messaging put out there in public. That, coupled with the fact that the Board does not have the confidence in its chief executive to go on Mike’s radio program about their organization shows the organization is having serious problems at board level of leadership.
Jarrett’s appearance on Feast of Fun confirmed it all. The language was so tightly parsed I had to listen to it multiple times. The words obfuscated the message; a letter cannot be both a fraud and an administrative error. I felt misled.
Mike Signorile also reported that Jarrett had been under consideration for Executive Director of Equality California. I have full confidence in Mike’s long reporting career – he’s an incredible journalist. Is it just coincidence that another board Troup Coronado serves on is that of the Equality California Institute? And what one corporate logo is on the front page of the Equality California website? I am sure at this point it will be no surprise.* Coronado is a parasite in our community.*
The revelation that these letters were not as they were represented gave me the feeling of being used and played. Ultimately these actions, including the T-Mobile/AT&T letter for which there is no denial, have been efforts against the very interests of the LGBT community that we here love so much. Coronado manipulated our groups for his own means. With Coronado on the board he shows he doesn’t care about the group or the board’s credibility. Coronado may think he is not responsible as he has left AT&T, but he did the damage a long time ago. In the interest of making money, he set up his own organization’s president. If Coronado loves GLAAD he needs to go immediately.
Media is more about perception than the hard to find facts of a very confusing situation, one only made more confusing by the way it has been presented. At this point, I am sad to say, the way this has all played out make the organization appear rudderless. If there is a pathway out, it must include new leadership at the board and CEO levels, that way the many fine staff at GLAAD can get on with their work in making the world a better place for all of us.
EXTENDED EXCERPT FROM PAM SPAULDING’S STATEMENT:
As a movement, there is nothing more important than personal and professional integrity, particularly in leadership. I’ve blogged many times about institutional rot, where an organization reaches a stage where management goes astray from its mission and focuses on self-preservation. It’s not inevitable, but the propensity for this sort of disastrous thinking increases exponentially when an organization is tempted to take a dark path.
This is one of those times. To reiterate what others have said, this isn’t about the foot soldiers committed to supporting the original mission of GLAAD, this is about key figures losing their way. You cannot have leadership throwing the organization overboard with a taint of this scale. That this scandal has crossed over to FDL and the larger progressive community cannot be ignored. Many thanks to Mike Signorile for his persistence and the work over at Bilerico.
It is indeed a sad day since I know Jarrett has paid his dues in the movement, but he and Coronado (and perhaps more) need to tender their resignations.