An online travel booking company that recently declared it will not be giving TLC any more money to advertise during its "All-American Muslim" reality program denies it is doing so because of bigotry but instead because the show "sucks."
The company's decision comes amid controversy stemming from a Christian organization pressuring businesses to withdraw their advertisements from "All-American Muslim" because the show is pure "propaganda."
"The first thing I discovered was that TLC was not upfront with us about the nature of this show," Robert Birge, Kayak’s Chief Marketing Officer, said in a statement published on the company’s website Wednesday.
Birge said Kayak decided to advertise on the show in the first place because it considered the topic "worthy." But after receiving critical emails that were sent by the public en mass via a Christian group based in Florida, the CMO started looking closely at the show, and decided that not only was the topic "a particular lightning rod," but the show itself "sucked," as Birge decided after watching the first two episodes.
"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," Birge wrote in the statement.
The controversy began after the Florida Family Association (FFA) claimed TLC had an agenda with "All-American Muslim."
"Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show," the group said in a statement on its website.
"More people need to wake up to the fact that Islam and those who practice some of it’s deviant rules have been doing so for thousands of years and are a threat world wide including America," Caton wrote in the statement.
Some critics have called the organization a hate group and criticized the companies that withdrew advertising from the show.
After withdrawing its advertising from the reality show, Lowe’s came under a storm of criticism this week, having been accused of hatred and racism by some members of the public.
In a Dec. 10 statement on its Facebook page regarding its decision, Lowe's insisted it has "a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment."
The statement attracted tens of thousands of comments, with many visitors expressing fury with Lowe's for its decision and statement. Despite the backlash, the Mooresville, N.C., company said Monday that it plans to stick to its decision.
The company pulled the Facebook post Wendesday, however, citing "a large volume of comments [that were] more pointed and hateful."
Currently, Kayak is experiencing a wave of criticism similar to the one Lowe's received. Birge acknowledged that the company’s decision might have come across as enticed by FFA: "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," Birge wrote in the statement.
"We handled this poorly and apologize," he also wrote in a statement published on the company’s Facebook page.
Still, Kayak’s statement published on Facebook drew many negative comments, similar to this one: "your ignorant move will be spread far & wide. I personally plan on telling all my airline friends and family not to use Kayak.....how sad that many support this bigoted action!!"
At the same time, the company also received some positive feedback for standing its ground and not backing away from its decision.
"I am so thankful I live in America. A country where we are free to spend our money where ever we want too. I have the most respect for someone that will stand up for their decision no matter how unpopular it becomes. I will use your site," a commenter wrote.