Douchebag Decree: Comcast VP Steve Kipp, Attempted Reel Grrls Camp-Ruiner
Reel Grrls, the awesome Seattle-based nonprofit organization that teaches media production to young women, has been under douche attack! Recently, Reel Grrls tweeted about the massive conflict of interest that is FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker's new job at NBC (this coming after she voted for the NBC/Comcast merger, natch) and Comcast's Steve Kipp responded by attempting to pull the funding for their summer film camp. WTF!?
Here's the tweet, which sums up the FCC situation quite nicely for 140 characters or less:
Prior to this righteous tweet, Reel Grrls was set to receive $18,000 in funding from Comcast for a media production summer camp for teenage girls. Not the type of program that would typically draw ire from, well, anyone, but Steve Kipp, regional VP of communications for Comcast is a doucheception to this rule. Here's what he had to say about it—in full, in case you're wondering whether the whole thing was full of bullshit—in an email to Reel Grrls (subject line: Negative Tweet about Comcast):
Given the fact that Comcast has been a major supporter of Reel Grrls for several years now, I am frankly shocked that your organization is slamming us on Twitter. This is not the first time either. I've seen at least one other negative Tweet about Comcast. I cannot in good conscience continue to provide you with funding, especially when there are so many other deserving nonprofits in town.
I respect your position on freedom of the press. However, I hope you can respect that this Tweet has put me in an indefensible position with my bosses. I cannot continue to ask them to approve funding for Reel Grrls, knowing that the digital footprint your organization has created about Comcast is a negative one.
I wish you and your organization the best. I believe strongly in the mission of Reel Grrls and the work that you do. I am truly sorry that Comcast's partnership with Reel Grrls had to end on such a sour note.
Oh really? He is "truly sorry" that the MEDIA ORGANIZATION he works for is de-funding a nonprofit that works to empower young women THROUGH MEDIA PRODUCTION!? And while we're on the subject, does Kipp really feel he has a leg to stand on here? Reel Grrls is right to take issue with the Attwell Baker news because it is majorly effed up!
Of course, Reel Grrls harnessed the power of the media (they're experts, after all!) and fought back against this petty and ridiculous attempt at summer camp ruination. Here's what they had to say about it in a recent press release:
Reel Grrls hopes that Comcast will reconsider their decision making moving forward in partnerships with other members of the community and choose to support worthy community efforts and the free expression of political ideas in the future. We are not asking Comcast to restore our funding. We are simply asking that when faced with similar decisions in the future, they consider whether it is appropriate to expect to be beyond reproach by any who choose to work with them. Particularly given the increased power they gained over Americans' access to information as a result of the recent NBC merger, we believe they have a special responsibility to avoid the stifling of free expression.
Luckily, their well-written and completely reasonable request did not go unanswered. As you may have guessed (since this Douchebag Decree is for Steve Kipp and not Comcast as a whole), it's looking right now like the summer camp funding is back on track! As of posting time, Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast's VP of government communications, has issued an apology, stating that, "the funding the organization has received from Comcast is not in jeopardy and we sincerely apologize for the unauthorized action of our employee. This is not the way Comcast behaves toward its nonprofit partners." Phew!
Of course, while this is a win for all of the girls who will now get to attend an awesome summer media camp at Reel Grrls, this situation is indicative of a larger trend that puts more and more power in the hands of Comcast and other major media organizations, and less and less power in the hands of media literacy and justice organizations like Reel Grrls. Score one for us media literacy lovers this time, but this isn't the first instance of this sort of Decree-worthy behavior from Big Media and I doubt it will be the last. Says Reel Grrls in an even more recent press release (this story is unfolding as I type!):
Regardless of the source of our funding, we will continue our commitment and our efforts to speak out in support for media reform and media justice issues. We are pleased that the public debate on this issue has caused Comcast to reconsider this decision and hope to continue the discussion about how we can best ensure that corporations do not play a role in stifling free expression or limiting American's access to information.
Let's hope that Steve Kipp—and anyone else who cares more about media justice than they do about being a douche—joins them in that discussion.
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