making excuses

Jarrett Barrios’ Sloppy Defense of GLAAD’s Obvious Conflicts of Interests (Is Bad for Him, GLAAD + The Gays)


Listening to GLAAD chief Jarrett Barrios defend himself from criticism — that accepting money from the very entertainment media companies it’s policing is a conflict of interest — is like listening to credit ratings agencies like Standard & Poor’s defend themselves from criticism over auditing financial products from the very Wall Street banks that are paying them to do so.

It’s as simple as this: If you take money from a group of people that you’ve charged yourself with independently critquing, YOU CANNOT BE INDEPENDENT.

Sure, GLAAD can still criticize ABC and Fox, despite them giving you money, as Barrios reminds everyone GLAAD does. It’s the same way a credit ratings agency can still rate a mortgage-backed security somewhat negatively. But it doesn’t make Moody’s the best candidate. And it certainly doesn’t make GLAAD. In the world of consumer products, why do you think Consumer Reports is more trusted than Good Housekeeping? Because at CR, there’s no such thing as corporate influence over the reviews.

You can never be truly honest when there is an obvious conflict of interest, as there is with GLAAD, as this website most recently pointed out in its horrifically bungled attempt at handling the Adam Lambert/AMA saga.

Or, more importantly, the mere appearance of a conflict of interest is damaging enough. Because GLAAD answers not to a corporate overseer, but its supporters and the LGBT community. It must work extra hard to convince us that taking money from the same companies it policies is not such a big deal. And if, as Barrios says, it actually isn’t a big deal, he has a larger problem on his hands: How else to explain GLAAD’s terribly unimpressive record? If the organization admitted it kowtows to corporate overseers, at least they’d have an excuse for being mostly ineffective.

Barrios closes his poor defense by explaining why GLAAD gets criticized:

It seems like Signorile, and many who criticize GLAAD’s work, do so because we don’t always see eye to eye. Because we don’t respond to the things they want us to respond to in exactly the way they want us to respond — or, sometimes, because we do respond to certain things and they think we shouldn’t (and it’s worth noting that these voices of criticism can and often do end up disagreeing with each other about what they think GLAAD ought to be doing).

Well, yes. But we also criticize GLAAD because GLAAD deserves criticizing. This isn’t for sport. It isn’t (truly) for pageviews. It’s because GLAAD actively solicits money from the LGBT community, which it so often fails. And Barrios’ defense here — while required — is just another example of GLAAD’s downward spiral.