The Tampa Tribune published an article on the Florida Family Association's (FFA) campaign against the cable news network Al Jazeera America, failing to note the FFA's fringe Islamophobic and anti-LGBT views.
Al Jazeera America's journalism has been lauded by media critics, but the network's recent launch triggered a wave of right-wing, Islamophobic backlash. Most notorious among Al Jazeera America's critics is David Caton, head of the FFA, who has launched a crusade to stop corporations from advertising on what he describes as the radical Islamist network.
In a September 22 article, the Tribune reported on Caton and the FFA's campaign:
Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news agency that stoked anti-Muslim emotions in the West a decade ago when it aired taped Osama bin Laden's threats to the United States, is now available to American news consumers and can be seen by Tampa area couch potatoes on the Verizon FiOS cable system.
That doesn't sit well with David Caton, head of the Florida Family Association, which has mounted an email campaign targeting corporations that advertise on the news channel.
He said there are only about eight major American companies advertising on Al Jazeera America.
"When we started, there were about 65," he said. "Our goal right now is to educate corporate America that the channel is there and urge them to stop spending advertising dollars there. We don't want American consumer dollars to go back to Qatar."
Caton and many Americans recall when, as U.S. forces hunted bin Laden, Al Jazeera aired tapes of the al-Qaida leader vowing violence on America and the West. That painted Al Jazeera for many as the voice of radical Islam. Since then, the news gathering agency has expanded across the globe, garnering journalism awards for its in-depth reporting.
Caton shrugged that off, saying the content of the news programs make no difference. He says the organization still is tied to radical Muslim organizations.
"If they played Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons 24 hours a day," he said, "our consumer dollars will still be sent to Qatar." [emphasis added]
Absent from the Tribune's report on the FFA's anti-Al Jazeera campaign was any context to illuminate the group's motives. This isn't first time that the FFA has intimidated advertisers with xenophobic appeals. In 2011, the group persuaded Lowe's and several other companies not to advertise on TLC's reality show All-American Muslim. As Jon Stewart quipped, the only apparent reason for the FFA's boycott of the show was that it portrayed "Muslims without the terrorist element."
Right Wing Watch noted in 2011 that the FFA's All-American Muslim boycott marked merely the latest in a series of bigoted moves by the organization. The group produced a selectively edited video decrying President Barack Obama's "extraordinarily strong bond ... with Islam and his Muslim heritage."
According to the FFA, Obama isn't the only figure responsible for creeping Islamization. The organization went after Campbell's Soup for promoting the "advancement of Islam and Sharia law in the United States" because the company makes halal soups.
LGBT people are similarly targeted by Caton's group. ThinkProgress higlighted the FFA's rabidly anti-LGBT record, including its effort to get Toys R Us to stop advertising for ABC's Modern Family, claiming that the gay-inclusive show "degrades marriage." Each year, the FFA protests Walt Disney World's Gay Day, warning people not to attend the event because LGBT people will be in attendance "promoting their various alternative lifestyles."
The Tribune's report noted that "some" critics consider anti-Al Jazeera campaigners Islamophobic. Had the paper bothered to inform its readers on the FFA's fringe, xenophobic background, perhaps they'd have understood why.