Meet the well-funded advocacy network of liberal groups that orchestrated the successful ouster of the Benham Brothers from HGTV.
Until last week, David and Jason Benham were set to host a new home-renovation show on the Home and Garden Television network, called “Flip It Forward.”
But all that changed after an obscure website called Right Wing Watch drew negative attention to the Benham’s conservative views on abortion and gay marriage. The website vilified the hosts with the headline, “HGTV Picks Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Extremist For New Reality TV Show.”
The story shed light on how the hosts’ father, Flip Benham, is an outspoken evangelical minister who leads an anti-abortion group. It also revealed that one of the hosts, David Benham, led a prayer rally in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention, and has spoken out against gay marriage.
A number of news outlets credited Right Wing Watch with drawing attention to the Benham’s pro-life, pro-traditional marriage views. But what is Right Wing Watch and who is behind it?
The answer: The anti-Christian conservative effort in Hollywood.
Right Wing Watch is a project of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, which started with an assist from the left-wing Tides Foundation.
People for the American Way was founded with help from former television Norman Lear, a Hollywood executive producer credited with starting the anti-Christian-right movement in the 1980s.
This left-wing network of groups — and the people who run them — have been connected to past campaigns to silence television personalities who have expressed conservative beliefs on social issues.
The president of People for the American Way is Michael Keegan, a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). GLAAD was involved in last year’s unsuccessful effort to permanently remove Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” after his well-publicized comments about gays.
People for the American Way, perhaps ironically, is also a member of the National Coalition Against Censorship — a group that has protested the silencing of people based on their views on homosexuality.
Reached by The Daily Caller on Monday, a People for the American Way spokesman declined to comment on the group’s role in the firing of the Benhams.
But the leader of one group supporting the Benham brothers, Faith Driven Consumer, criticized the left’s crusade against them.
“There is a general secular agenda — the strongest voice of which currently is the LGBT agenda — that is so adamantly pushing their worldview that it attempts to steamroll any worldview that is in opposition to it,” Chris Stone, the founder of Faith Driven Consumer, said in an interview with TheDC on Monday.
Faith Driven Consumer battled GLAAD during its anti-Duck Dynasty effort last year. It has now launched an effort in support of the Benham brothers called FlipThisDecision.com.
More than 15,000 people have signed their petition demanding HGTV reverse its decision, he said. Stone acknowledged that the Benham brothers might end up on another channel.
“There seems to be a number of people, a number of networks, that are expressing interest in picking up the show,” he said.
This is how HGTV described the proposed Benham Brothers show last month: “Flip It Forward will feature real estate entrepreneurs and dads, David Benham and Jason Benham, as they leverage their good-natured sibling rivalry to help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford.”
The show was not expected to be about politics.
After the Right Wing Watch story was picked up last week by other news outlets across the country, the network tersely wrote on its website, “HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.”
David and Jason Benham responded to the uproar by saying, “Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.”
Stone of Faith Driven Consumer predicts that viewers will continue to rally around the Benhams.
“Where we originally saw this as a good show — it would have been a success on HGTV — as this point in time, we see it as a huge hit in the making. Perhaps the next ‘Duck Dynasty,’” he said.