Kayak’s All-American Muslim response is better than Lowe’s, but still gives bigotry too much weight

The travel search engine Kayak has apologized for its handling of advertising on TLC’s All-American Muslim, condemning “regrettable hatred” but also saying that the show “sucked.” Even though they will not continue to advertise, their response is a demonstration of what Lowe’s should have done instead of just pandering to bigots to get their business–although Kayak still gives too much weight to the bigoted morons who claim this show is controversial.

Today, the company’s CEO posted to the company’s blog and said, in part,

“Our decision regarding advertising on All-American Muslim was in no way influenced by demands from third parties such as the FFA. We do try to avoid advertising on shows that may produce controversy, whether we support the content or not. We simply don’t want people to confuse our choice of where we spend our TV dollars with a political or moral agenda. Plus there are plenty of shows that are just as effective from a marketing perspective.

We’re not bigots, and we’re not experts in TV programming. We are trying to make the world’s best travel site. I hope this blog post puts this issue to rest and allows us to get back to work.”

Yesterday, the company’s chief marketing officer, Robert Birge, posted a more detailed response that both apologized and explained what he thought of the show and TLC’s behavior. Highlights from that post:

“We would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by how we handled our decision not to continue advertising on All-American Muslim when it returns in January. We decided to advertise on it in the first place because we adamantly support tolerance and diversity. …

For the record, we didn’t “pull” our ads. Our ads kept running on this program, but we have made the decision not to give TLC more money when the show returns in January.

Unfortunately, this decision comes across as bending to bigotry. It also appears that we did not support people who deserve support as people and as Americans. For that, I am profoundly sorry.

…The first thing I discovered was that TLC was not upfront with us about the nature of this show. As I said, it’s a worthy topic, but any reasonable person would know that this topic is a particular lightning rod. We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn’t let us know their intentions. That’s not a business practice that generally gets repeat business from us. I also believe that it did this subject a grave disservice. Sadly, TLC is now enjoying the attention from this controversy.

I then checked the Florida Family Association website to see how this was portrayed. Besides the regrettable hatred, I also noticed that we weren’t listed. The email was a template, so people who sent thousands of emails seemed to be unaware they were sending it to us. The amount of vitriol in the emails was saddening, but I didn’t exactly feel pressured (not to mention we wouldn’t bend to such pressure). Many of the emails I’ve received expressing disappointment in our decision have been much more civil, and I applaud you for that.

Lastly, I watched the first two episodes. Mostly, I just thought the show sucked.

Based on our dealings with TLC and the simple assessment of the show, I decided we should put our money elsewhere. Apologies again.

That’s a reasonable response, and of course anyone can advertise anywhere they want. But I disagree that the show is a “lightning rod,” unless bigoted morons are the lightning. The argument the Florida Family Association and the bigots who are posting on Facebook and elsewhere are making is that the show doesn’t show Muslims to be terrorists (the stereotype they have of Muslims in their tiny brains). That’s so ludicrous it should be laughed at.

If some fringe group protested Planet Earth because it showed the world to be round instead of flat, no one would give them a second thought, and that’s what should have happened here. Companies should have looked at the response and waved it off as stupid. Calling something controversial when it’s not a real controversy at all gives too much weight to the dummies’ stupid arguments.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.