Another Perspective

Is NBC’s CEO a Homophobe?

Turns out he was a Santorum donor.

By 4.8.14

Comcast
Send to Kindle

Does Rachel Maddow work for a homophobe? Is the boss of MSNBC — that would be NBC Universal’s chief executive officer and Comcast Executive Vice President Stephen B. Burke — next on the “Gay Gestapo’s” hit list? For donating to the traditional marriage-supporting former senator Rick Santorum? Was columnist and commentator Pat Buchanan fired from his MSNBC job for views that Santorum holds — and held when Comcast’s Burke was giving money to Santorum?

Is entertainment mogul Barry Diller — the boss of Inter Active Corp, which owns the site OkCupid that urged the firing of Mozilla’s Brendan Eich over gay marriage — playing corporate footsie with a network of homophobes? For profit?

And Slate, the left wing online publication? Do they know who Thomas Leppert is?

It doesn’t get any richer in irony or thicker in hypocrisy than all of this.

Let’s begin by recalling the boycott that fired the furor over now-departed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, forced out because of a six-year-old $1,000 contribution in support of California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage. The managers of OkCupid, an online dating site — and not just any online dating site, as we will get to in a moment — set their system so any visitors using the Firefox browser would receive a message reading:

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience.

Mozilla’s CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid…

Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.

OkCupid recommended the use of other browsers such as Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer. So it is curious indeed to explore the world of the owner of OkCupid, Hollywood and entertainment mogul Barry Diller.

Let’s move to Rachel Maddow’s ultimate boss, NBC Universal’s Steve Burke.

On September 18, 2006 — a mere two years before Brendan Eich’s $1,000 contribution to Proposition 8 — Mr. Burke, then an executive of Comcast (which now owns NBC Universal) made a $2,000 contribution to the re-election campaign of Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. While Santorum lost his re-election bid, he emerged as a serious candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, defeating Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus.

Santorum is a staunch Catholic, and is fearless in making his views on gay marriage and other social issues crystal clear. Think Progress, one of who knows how many leftist sites that can’t abide Santorum’s views, featured a piece headlined “Rick Santorum’s Top 10 Most Outrageous Campaign Statements." According to Think Progress (remember, Santorum held the same view on gays in 2006 when he received Burke’s $2,000), Santorum said all same-sex marriages should be annulled because they “destabilize” society, and gay soldiers “cause problems for soldiers living in close quarters.”

Using OkCupid’s formulation, Burke should be fired because his donation, like that of Brendan Eich, makes him a bigot. MSNBC commentator Jimmy Williams has said, on MSNBC no less, that “Rick Santorum is a homophobe and a bigot. Let’s call it what it is.” If that’s true then shouldn’t the boss of MSNBC be fired immediately?

The story gets better.

OkCupid is part of InterActiveCorp, the digital empire of longtime Hollywood and entertainment mogul Barry Diller. IAC describes itself as “a leading media and Internet company with more than 150 brands and products serving loyal consumer audiences.” And, as was pointed out last week by the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Sam Yagan, the cofounder of OkCupid, now a Diller underling, “donated $500 to former Utah Republican Rep. Chris Cannon in 2004. Cannon voted in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage.”

Also in that Diller digital empire is a brand called Electus, one of whose partners as listed here is a content media company called Hud-Sun. Notice this line on the Electus site about its partner:

Hud:sun Media currently produces ‘Pregnant in Heels’ for Bravo, as well as ‘I’m Having Their Baby,’ a groundbreaking adoption docuseries for Oxygen.

Pregnant in Heels has been canceled while I’m Having Their Baby over on Oxygen is still going strong.

So? So one of Diller’s brands — OkCupid — demanded and got the head of Mozilla’s Brendan Eich for that $1,000 donation. Yet the same Diller empire, using OkCupid’s sister brand Electus, is busy partnering with Hud:Sun, which in turn has been and is currently producing shows in a deal with the cable networks Bravo and Oxygen. And who owns Bravo and Oxygen? That’s right, NBC Universal. Run by Santorum contributor Steve Burke.

And what of MSNBC? As the world knows, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is gay. Her boss is a contributor to Rick Santorum. All manner of gay activists including Media Matters’s David Brock, America Blog's John Aravosis, and GLAAD's CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis have trooped to the cameras and studios of MSNBC to make their case. Just this weekend Aravosis was on Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz on Fox comparing Brendan Eich to a “holocaust denier.” Yet when it comes to demanding the firing of the guy who is number two at Comcast and number one at NBC Universal, every single one of these people is silent about Burke’s contribution to Santorum. Maybe they didn’t know? They do now.

And here’s one more interesting story. This one over at Slate by senior tech writer Will Oremus is a classic. Headlined “If You’re Against Gay Marriage, You’re a Bad CEO," Oremus ends his column by loftily lecturing Brendan Eich: “Actually, Mr. Eich, right now we’re in a world where you have to not be a bigot if you want to be an effective leader of an organization like Mozilla. And it’s about time.”

Does Will Oremus really believe that? Perhaps he should start by demanding the resignation of one Thomas C. Leppert, the CEO of The Kaplan Educational Foundation, who believes in his own words “that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman.” Kaplan is the “largest subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company.” And what is that? The GHC is what’s left of the Washington Post Graham family’s holdings after they sold the Post to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. One of the major investors in GHC? That would be Warren Buffett.

And what else does the GHC own? You can’t make it up. The Graham Holdings Company owns…Slate. Yes, that’s right. Leppert, the CEO of Slate’s very own sister company, has also tweeted criticism of President Obama’s refusal to enforce DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Wrote the now-CEO of Slate's sister company (did I mention the words “sister company” enough yet?), “Another mistake from Obama on DOMA. We need leaders in Washington to stand for the principle of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Leppert, you see, was mayor of Dallas before taking the job as CEO of Kaplan. So back there in the mists of time — that would be 2012, as seen in the Dallas News, the CEO of Slate’s sister company was opposing gay marriage. More? Leppert challenged Ted Cruz for the GOP Senate nomination in 2012. And in the course of that, the future CEO of a Graham company — say again, Slate’s sister company — accused opponent Cruz of having “received a quarter-of-a-million dollars from the gay activist who was leading the fight for gay marriage in California” when Cruz ran unsuccessfully for Texas attorney general. Got that reference? What Leppert is referring to when he says “the fight for gay marriage in California” means… Proposition 8.

Among other things, this means that Slate tech writer Will Oremus is using the cyber-pages of Slate to insist that the CEO of Slate’s very own sister company is a “bad CEO” and should lose his job.

Will the gay activists that zeroed in on Mozilla’s Brendan Eich now go after NBC, Comcast, the Graham Holdings Company, Kaplan Educational — and yes — Slate magazine? Will they stop appearing on MSNBC? Will Rachel Maddow quit?

So what do we have here? Aside from the New Fascism, as Newt Gingrich has termed it? Or the Gay Gestapo as the gay talk radio host and author Tammy Bruce describes it? Or gay “fanaticism” as the gay Andrew Sullivan labels it? Or the “Gay Mafia” in the words of Bill Maher? What we have are questions — questions that have an importance far beyond the individuals involved.

Should Stephen Burke lose his job at Comcast and NBCUniversal because he gave a chunk of cash — more than Brendan Eich’s contribution to Proposition 8 by $1,000 — to Rick Santorum? Should Sam Yagan lose his job in the Barry Diller empire because he gave $500 bucks to a congressional opponent of same-sex marriage? Should the CEO of Kaplan, Tom Leppert, lose his job?

Of course not. But these newest revelations are a red flag as to what lies ahead if the intolerance of the New Fascism is to be the name of the game. The time to oppose it is now.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.