American Pulling Sponsorship From Bill Maher Performance
Maher, who quite openly hates Christians, was sponsored by American TV, WKLH Radio, and the Shepherd Express in what appears to have been a package deal to sponsor acts at certain venues -- the Riverside and Pabst theaters in Milwaukee in this case.
The American logo will not be seen on ads for the comedian, on the web page promoting his performance or any signage connected to the concert.
Becker mentioned that American has been bombarded with calls on this issue today.
Becker admitted that he had seen the list of comedians slated to perform. “I was aware . . . they sent it to me ahead of time” he told us. And further, “they sent the list over.” Becker further said “Did it slip by me? I looked it over and it seemed ok.” It appeared that Becker recognized Maher as a well-known name, but it didn’t “click” that he had made a long series of bigoted comments about Christians.
Becker stressed that, in the entire scope of American TV public relations, the comedians series at the Riverside and Pabst theaters “isn’t necessarily a huge project.” So it’s not as though anybody at American’s corporate headquarters in Madison sat down and hashed over the list of performers.
Becker made it clear that the Maher performance is part of a package of comedy shows -- perhaps 15 per year -- that American most certainly does want to support. “We sponsor the Pabst and the Riverside,” he said, describing them as “historic old venues.”
Indeed, both venues have been revitalized in recent years, and Becker seemed proud of that fact and of the comedy series that has featured acts such as “Second City.” In any given year, American may not know all the acts that will be booked when it promises support before the season starts.
Although everybody -- including American and the management of the Riverside/Pabst operation -- ought to be more careful about involving sponsoring corporations in promotions that will prove embarrassing, no deliberate decision to do something known to offend Christians was made.
It appears that American has done everything it can, at this point, to distance itself from this inflammatory and intolerant comedian.
Charlie Sykes has an update on this, with an e-mail from Wyn Becker that we had not seen before, saying essentially the same thing he said in his interview with us.