MSNBC’S ‘HARDBALL’ ADVERTISERS TARGETED

Host Chris Matthews' Anti-Gay Comments Provoke Bloggers

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Left-wing bloggers are borrowing a tactic of Donald E. Wildmon’s American Family Association by targeting advertisers who support MSNBC’s "Hardball."
Photo: AP
"Hardball" host Chris Matthews has become as popular a target on liberal blogs such as americablog.com and dailykos.com as Fox News Channel’s conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly after he appeared on Don Imus’ radio show and joked disparagingly about gays.

"Hardball" host Chris Matthews has become as popular a target on liberal blogs such as americablog.com and dailykos.com as Fox News Channel’s conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly after he appeared on Don Imus’ radio show and joked disparagingly about gays. Now his advertisers are being targeted for a call-in campaign.

"Ask Toyota, Verizon and Turbo-Tax how they feel about 'fag jokes,'" reads a headline on Web site AmericaBlog.blogspot.com. The site then lists the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of officials of all three companies as well as MSNBC.

The immediate ire is aimed at Mr. Matthews’ comments made Jan. 18 on Mr. Imus' show, which is simulcast on MSNBC most mornings, in which the two discussed the movie "Brokeback Mountain" and its chances of winning an Oscar. Part of the movie’s plot is about two homosexual cowboys.

Quoting Savage
Mr. Matthews and Mr. Imus, in a discussion about whether a movie about gay cowboys can win an Oscar, quoted the name Michael Savage, Talk Radio Network’s San Francisco-based right-wing host of "Savage Nation" has dubbed the Ang Lee-directed movie, "Bareback Mounting." The discussion eventually prompted a statement from MSNBC, which never mentioned Mr. Matthews.

That stoked liberal blogs that have been charging that Mr. Matthews shows a conservative, pro-Bush stance, extensively questioning Democrats while letting conservatives statements go by with lesser challenges.

"Chris Matthews has repeatedly compared Americans who are concerned about the war in Iraq to Osama bin Laden," reads a Web site launched this week at openlettertochrismatthews.blogspot.com. "We are asking companies to refrain from advertising on Matthews' MSNBC TV show 'Hardball' until he publicly apologizes and promises to stop his right-wing bias.”

Jeremy Gaines, MSNBC VP-communications, called the criticism "unfounded" and said it was based on a comment taken out of context and put the number of comments the network got in the hundreds. He said the network has heard nothing from advertisers and seen relatively little response to the campaign.

No changes for Toyota
“The right and the left complain in equal numbers which mean Chris is doing his job, and holding both sides accountable,” he said.

A Toyota spokesman said the company had received a few calls and some e-mails but is making no changes.

"Like most advertisers, we air across a broad range of programming and our ads should not be viewed as tacit endorsements of the views in programs," he said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Wildmon’s group targeted NBC's "Book of Daniel" as depicting an anti-Christian lifestyle, and successfully persuaded several affiliates to drop the show. This week, NBC canceled the series.

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