News Corp. faces sincerity test
Let the healing begin.
In fairness, I never assumed that Sean Delonas's Feb. 18 cartoon tying together the federal stimulus bill and a shooting of a crazed pet chimp in Connecticut was a conscious piece of bigotry. It's just possible that the association was the result of a random misfiring of neurons within Delonas's highly disordered mind rather than an intentional attempt to evoke antique racist stereotypes.
But the NAACP and Al Sharpton, among others, disagreed, and raised enough of a ruckus that Murdoch offered a personal apology -- a rare gesture indeed for someone whose stable of professional offenders includes Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Page Six. (He did not, however, fire Post editor Col Allan, as some predicted he would.)
The New York diversity council, announced yesterday, was an outgrowth of that ruckus, reports AP:
After the protests died down, there were discussions between community groups and News Corp., which culminated in a meeting on May 19. The meeting included representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Sharpton's National Action Network, the National Urban League and 100 Black Men of America.
Those groups will all have representation on the council, as will several organizations representing Hispanic populations. (News Corp. already had diversity councils in Los Angeles and Chicago.) All to the good. But the real question, the real test of News Corp.'s sincerity, will be whether any gay advocacy groups such as GLAAD or the Human Rights Campaign get seats at the table. As I've pointed out, the Post, led by Delonas, has long taken the keenest pleasure in finding ways to ridicule, stereotype and otherwise bait homosexuals. GLAAD has called out the paper for its homophobia time after time, but, lacking the reach and scale to levy an effective boycott threat the a la the NAACP, the group has failed to elicit so much as a token gesture of contrition from Murdoch, much less a promise to reform.
I asked a News Corp. spokesman Jack Horner whether the new advisory council will solicit participation from gay watchdogs. Horner said the membership hasn't yet been determined, but that the existence of the committee "reflects our continued commitment to a diverse workplace and reinforces our desire to understand better the various communities we serve, including GLBT members of those communities." (I also reached out to GLAAD but haven't heard back.)
Whether GLAAD or one of its allies gets an invitation to join will be a good indication of just how serious that commitment is. If they don't, you'll know this "diversity council" is nothing more than a public relations device.