July 20, 2007

JetBlue Retracts Sponsorship; Is This Victory?

After the discount airliner JetBlue sponsored the YearlyKos event, conservative bloggers started campaigning to pressure the airline to end its association with the Leftosphere event. Bill O'Reilly even had a Factor segment on his show this week, challenging JetBlue management for its decision to help underwrite the event. At first, JetBlue remained adamant that they would not succumb to the pressure -- but that didn't last too long. According to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga at Daily Kos, they have ended their association with his conference (via Memeorandum):

Okay, so JetBlue, after deciding to resist Bill O'Reilly's pressure last night, just decided to back down. ...

As for my part, I'm cancelling my JetBlue American Express card and will be looking at alternative options for my future travel. Too bad. Unfortunately, JetBlue just told me (and the rest of us) that they accept O'Reilly's ... smears. ..

Oh, and JetBlue advertises with Fox. You see, it's okay to support the likes of Ann Coulter.

Don Surber proclaims victory:

The left loves to decry “hypocrisy” on the right. Well, what about them? The left is bankrolled by billionaires such as George “Convicted in France of Insider Trading” Soros. They hate insurance companies but love those campaign donations from Peter “Progressive Auto Insurance” Lewis. They hate multi-national corporations but demand money from them.

Actually, Kos played JetBlue, claiming it was a corporate sponsor when it was not. O’Reilly posted this from an e-mail he got from its CEO: “Because the only thing JetBlue has done with the YearlyKos Convention is to provide 10 travel vouchers, we’ve asked to have our name removed from their Web site to avoid confusion. We’re an airline, we’re not a political organization.”

All schadenfreude aside, in my opinion, this is a very thin victory -- especially for bloggers. I wouldn't mourn the collapse of Yearly Kos, but I don't think it's all that important in any case. The world will little note nor long remember the words spoken/shouted/screeched there. Frankly, this just gives them more publicity and the aura of minor martyrdom.

However, potential underwriters will remember the immediate attacks for any company foolish enough to sponsor forums where free political speech occurs. Does anyone think for a moment that these same lessons won't apply to conservative blogger conventions, if we start holding them, in the future? It takes a lot of money to stage these events, and if the Rightosphere ever gets its activist act together, they can go far towards bolstering the community and moving agendas forward.

Full disclosure also suffers. I don't blame JetBlue for sponsoring Kos' event as much as I appreciate knowing where they stand politically. That will now be more difficult to determine with executives who just learned to keep their mouths shut, along with their wallets.

I'd rather we had left the option open for corporate sponsorship for grassroots political events. There may come a time when we could benefit from it. If this is victory, it's only a short-term partisan triumph. Free political speech could use a little corporate protection in these days of pushing the Fairness Doctrine and the BCRA, and that's true for all Americans regardless of their political orientation.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (34)

Posted by leftnomore | July 20, 2007 6:07 PM

That's why they are named JetBLUE-- get it?

Posted by Jim Pickering | July 20, 2007 6:08 PM

That will now be more difficult to determine with executives who just learned to keep their mouths shut, along with their wallets.

That appears to be the hardest lesson for conservatives to absorb. Just as GWB has now proclaimed the executive exempt from prosecution by US Attorneys, no one seems to remember this may "bite" them in the nether regions at some later date when the "shoe is on the other foot."

Posted by Don Sciba | July 20, 2007 6:18 PM

Sorry Ed. Can't agree. Daily Kos is not just a site for calm discussion of left-leaning policy. It is a site has hosted, encouraged and applauded the vilest language, the most vicious personal slanders, and the most hateful conspiracy theories. Not to mention personal attacks that border on anarchist threats. Lumping them in with respectable blogs whether on the left or right gives them legitimacy they have not earned. I would hope "sponsors" would reject anyone who poisons the free-speech pond– whether their trash is from the left or right. Kos does not even belong in the same discussion as Powerline. Or Captain's Quarters.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 20, 2007 6:32 PM

leftnomore said

"That's why they are named JetBLUE-- get it?"

Check out the thread about this story at Newsbusters-they have a great picture of a JetBLUE plane at cruise altitude, flying with only one wing (the left one, of course)

Posted by bongo | July 20, 2007 6:39 PM

Thin gruel for celebration indeed.

When I heard of this kerfuffle a couple of days ago I'd hoped it went on my scroll by list.

I'm disappointed in it's outcome.

Jet Blue is free to spend its corporate sponsorship as it pleases. Daily Kos or Daily Planet. It's called freedom of association people.

Right or Left freedom of association is worth maintaining.

Posted by Jeremiah | July 20, 2007 6:46 PM

You forget one thing: if a corporation sponsors a left-leaning organization's event, that's good corporate citizenship. If a corporation sponsors anything remotely Republican, it is, ipso facto, wicked self interest focused on the bottom line.

Like it or not, right- or Republican-leaning organizations are not, from a public interest perspective, perceived as legitimate.

Posted by paul a'barge | July 20, 2007 6:59 PM

In comparison, let's count the number of people and organizations that have decided to change their behavior based on reading something in Captains Quarterly. Hmmm, let's see ... that's .... me and some homeless guy living under a bridge in downtown Austin Texas.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 20, 2007 7:45 PM

bongo said

"Jet Blue is free to spend its corporate sponsorship as it pleases. Daily Kos or Daily Planet. It's called freedom of association people.

Right or Left freedom of association is worth maintaining."

LOL. Unless the company is named "Halliburton", right?

How do you explain the website "Buy Blue", which suddenly seems to have disappeared. They existed to provide their Kool Aid drinking patrons a list of which businesses and companies were "OK" to do business with, solely based on their political persuasion. Sounds like just what the bad old GOP people are accused of doing...

As for Halliburton, as I have noted here many times in the past, the Dems' associations with said firm go way back to 1936, or 5 years before Dick Cheney was even born. And even Bill Clinton gave them no-bid contracts during his war of choice in Kosovo.

Posted by TheGrandMufti | July 20, 2007 8:27 PM

Kos is not just a free speech organization. It is a hate organization.

JetBlue did the right thing from disassociating itself from that anti-Christian and anti-Semitic organization.

Posted by smagar | July 20, 2007 8:27 PM

Oh please.

potential underwriters will remember the immediate attacks for any company foolish enough to sponsor forums where free political speech occurs.

Such as...Clear Channel Communications? Fox News? Sorry, but the liberals are more that willing to play hardball when they see/perceive conservatives getting some favorable treatment. Yes it would be nice if everyone played together nicely. But, they don't, do they?

Does anyone think for a moment that these same lessons won't apply to conservative blogger conventions, if we start holding them, in the future?

Ummm...ok...are you saying that this one act against JetBlue will rouse a sleeping, quiescent liberal activist base and make them a raging, uncontrolled force? That they otherwise would have let corporations sponsor conservative conventions/events with no protest? News flash---they'd have objected even if we conservatives had done nothing more offensive to irritate liberals than breathe the same air they do.

I don't blame JetBlue for sponsoring Kos' event as much as I appreciate knowing where they stand politically.

Are you forgetting the four Blackwater contractors? Murdered, burned, and their bodies left hanging on a Fallujah bridge, until our Marines recovered them? I haven't. And I blame JetBlue for helping a conference dedicated to lionizing "Screw 'em" Kos succeed.

Pray tell, what is wrong for criticizing JetBlue for setting what appeared to be a poor example corporately. Yes, it is their right to associate with Kos. But I don't think much of corporations that do. I and MANY MANY other people said so this week. As is our right. NONE OF US asked the FAA to ground JetBlue. We simply pointed out the irresponsibilty of their act, and said that we'd take our business elsewhere and encourage our friends/family/corporations to do the same.

I'd rather we had left the option open for corporate sponsorship for grassroots political events.

Oh, come on! How does this one event prevent corporations from sponsoring corporate events? The libs were going to freak out already if ANY corporation dared to help a conservative cause or event. So, how much corporate help did you expect in the first place? Here, we simply gave the libs a taste of their own medicine.

Captain, with respect, IMO you're being a bit too preachy and sanctimonious here. If you turn the other cheek to this liberal crowd, they'll not only punch that fresh cheek. They'll laugh at you for being naive enough to fantasize that they'd every play nice in the first place.

This is bare knuckle politics. The other side is bound and determined to play that kind of game. Either you play it too, or you collect a whole lot of fresh cheeks to turn to them...so they can punch them some more.

Posted by daytrader | July 20, 2007 8:29 PM

So now Jet Blue has pi**ed off both the left and the right.

Short their stock.

If you don't understand the term, learn it , you and even your kids could retire on the profits.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | July 20, 2007 9:07 PM

Well put, Ed. I couldn't agree more.

Posted by jethro | July 20, 2007 9:40 PM

Pointing out that JetBlue advertises on Fox is laughable. I'll bet they also advertise on CNN and PMSNBC.

Posted by cfoster | July 20, 2007 10:43 PM

I agree with Ed that it's a who-cares hollow-victory. But I entirely agree with smagar that libs will eagerly do the same when the tables are turned even if the right plays nicey- nice.

Posted by Russ | July 20, 2007 10:49 PM

Most of those screeching one way or the other about the JetBlue thing have missed the main point. Yes, we are all politically astute enough on this website to know what kos is, but let's be honest - the average American does not have any idea.

Whether some like it or not, O'Reilly reaches millions more than the blogosphere. Whether he got the sponsorship pulled is irrelevant. The point is that he made people know who/what kos is, as well as what they post on their site.

Even bigger is that he is getting people to notice which politicians associate with kos. A large number of liberal politicians pander to kos, but most Americans don't know that. If they get that clue from this, the whole exercise was worth it.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 20, 2007 11:10 PM

Actually, last year's KAOS-Fest earned Kos himself a plum multi-minute interview slot on "Meet the Press" with former-friend-and-neighbor of the foreman in the Scooter Libby trial Timmy Russert at the time it happened.

He also got coverage from that Atlanta network that hired Andy Cooper.

FYI, "360" refers to the rotation they do while spinning...or is it rotating, like when a water closet is activated?

Posted by Adjoran | July 20, 2007 11:19 PM

I agree with Ed. It was a mistake for bloggers to jump on this thing and will hurt us all in the longer term.

Sure, O'Reilly reaches a greater audience than any single conservative blog does, but he doesn't reach nearly the audience that ALL of them do, and he would never have found the story if bloggers hadn't been harping on it already. O'Reilly has a small staff, not a news bureau. He depends on others to "report" so he has something upon which to comment.

In the long run, we just helped Old Media hang on a little longer by demonstrating how quick we will turn on an advertiser. That's not the way you attract advertising - and I didn't need my 23 years in the newspaper business to learn that.

Posted by Jerry Pulley | July 20, 2007 11:49 PM

Hmm. Ed, your argument has so many holes I don't know where to start.

Let's see, basic principles. Corporations, like all actors in a free state, are free to do what they want within the law. Of course, they then bear responsibility for those actions. Other actors may form and express their opinions regarding those actions, and that's what happened here. Good stuff, freedom.

Next, the case at hand. DK is characterized by vulgarity, tinfoil, and a loathing of our nation and its society. Let's hope the nasty fringes of the right are treated just as DK and JetBlue were in this case; that treatment will be given to responsible commentators (and corporations that support them) only by the irresponsible.

As for the future implications, there's nothing we can do about the behavior of children other than call them on it. C'mon, Ed, we can't hide. The irresponsible left will attack anything approaching center, let alone conservative, whether we speak our minds or not. So yeah, this was a small victory.

Posted by Jim Treacher | July 21, 2007 2:00 AM

Does YearlyKos really bolster the community and move agendas forward? Or is it just a lot of yapping?

Posted by daytrader | July 21, 2007 4:55 AM

JetBlue and Progressive Insurance you have got to love them just because they have the ba**s to state their agenda up front.

And the fools are still willing to bend over and enjoy the chocolate packing.

And then later in the year they vote.

Power to the sheeple.

Posted by dave rywall | July 21, 2007 9:02 AM

This crybabying over a company associating itself with a political event is petty bullsh*t. Next the left will do its own whinefest over a sponsor's involvement with a right event.

Why don't you all spend your energy on stuff that actually matters?


Posted by vet66 | July 21, 2007 9:12 AM

DailyKos is unworthy of corporate support from mainstream corporate America. Kos relies on invective, ad hominem attacks, and a toxic definition of free speech.

JetBlue, by association, is at the least guilty of supporting the causes near and dear to the hearts of the far left. First thing that comes to mind is the recent failure to pass the John Doe bill protecting citizens from being sued for racial profiling and the insidious attempt to limit talk radio with the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

These are not the kind of people responsible executives support. Note to JetBlue, try increasing your support of concepts such as Patriotism, our military, and their families.

Posted by sherlock | July 21, 2007 12:07 PM

JetBlue just learned that most folks don't support leftist nutballs. They already knew that about rightwing fringes like the neo-nazis, so now their education is just a bit more complete.

Somebody in marketing at Jet Blue probably needs to understand the demographic of who in the US has the disposable income to travel by air, or full-time job that requires it. Hint: they don't hang out at Kos in huge numbers.

Posted by Lightwave | July 21, 2007 12:53 PM

It seems to me Ed that the real problem is the fact that Yearly Kos conference is considered legitimate enough for anyone to consider them respectable examples of bloggers whose free speech rights need to be defended.

DK has a lot of people fooled, frankly. Lamenting about the Dems going after free speech is one thing, but don't do yourself the disservice of saying how it would affect trash like the Kos Kids. They don't care about you, Ed. They want to see you and everything remotely GOP burn, Ed. In their zeal to save us from Those Horrible Republicans, they have become the very fascists they rail against with almost religious fervor.

The Cult of Stopping Bush At Any Cost is far more dangerous than the people they oppose. While I admire you wanting to hold yourself above that with noble intentions, right now nobility needs to take a back seat to reality.

The DKs of this world want to exterminate anyone who doesn't share their world view. The truth is a danger to them. It's not misguided pity that should stay our hand on this, and it's far past the time we should be ready to point out to corporations that the backlash is already here against the anti-Americanism that DK projects on a daily basis.

These people are *dangerous* Ed. They are a danger to America and a danger to all of us. It's time to admit that. Yes, JetBlue tried to play both sides, and in the end that's not going to work. In the end, you have to pick a side.

At least JetBlue picked the right one.

Posted by Shark | July 21, 2007 4:18 PM

Cap, you do know Kos railed to have the Dems boycott the Fox debate, right?

Jetblue can sponsor who they want.....and any potential customers who dislike that can feel free to make their feelings known as well.

Which is exactly what happened.

So what exactly is the problem here?

You realize that Kos and his ilk would gladly see your site shut down, and see you muzzled, right? What is the martyr complex you have when you want to play by marquis of queensbury rules?

Posted by TW | July 21, 2007 5:35 PM

The supposed 'hate speech' that O'Reilly attributed to Markos (Kos) was actually cherry-picked from some of the comments and diaries that -anyone- can post at DailyKos. O'Reilly, with Michelle Malkin's help, intentionally smeared Markos with someone else's words. If you read the posts by Markos and his regular team of writers, you will not find those comments.

What's been left out is that Kos and other leftosphereoids were instrumental in getting the Democratic candidates to boycott the FOX sponsered debates. So this is tit-for-tat revenge. All the more cowardly because Markos has been on vacation for the past two weeks and this attack was launched when he couldn't respond. He's back now, but the damage was already done.

This was a completely dishonest, cowardly and blind-side attack done purely out of spite.

Posted by ck | July 21, 2007 11:37 PM

This hardly happens with companies that sponsor conservative events because the left has no FOX news.

As much as any of you want to scream that all the MSM media is liberal and out to get conservatives, name one big TV station that would get a reporter to go ambush a CEO for sponsoring something like redstate.com? There are none but FoX.

Bill O'Reilly had a "reporter" ambush the CEO of JetBlue because they sponsored a website --- the website happens to have users just like CQ, who can sometimes get carried away and say ridiculous things in the comments section. There are NO other television stations that would do something so reckless. That's why FOX is crap and propaganda --- Watch at your and your country's own risk.

And on top of all of that, the idea that YearlyKos is a 'hate site' is silly and misinformed. If a site was based on the reader's comments (which O'Reilly is doing), then not only would CQ have some major explaining to do, but so would just about all other sites that allow comments. It's cheap, it's dirty, it's misinformed and it's vengeful... All traits I don't think many of you would be too proud to have associated with yourself or who you watch.

O'Reilly acts as if he's 10 years old....

Posted by Lew | July 22, 2007 10:24 AM

And the chasm between us gets wider and wider every week. With each passing issue, there is less and less to talk about, and now we don't even fly the same airlines!

And its going to get a lot wider, and far nastier, before all this reaches some sort of resolution.

Posted by Ray | July 22, 2007 11:22 AM

This is really a non-issue as freedom of association is in no way threatened by the retraction of sponsorship by any group or individual to any other group or individual.

Freedom OF association also allows freedom FROM association. Since any individual, group, company, or corporation is free to associate via sponsorship of a political (or private) event like the Yearly Kos then it is equally free to disassociate itself from that event for any reason at all.

The Yearly Kos organizers are still free to seek sponsorship from another company if they so desire. The supporters of Yearly Kos are also free to disassociate themselves from JetBlue if they wish, but I doubt that JetBlue will suffer much because of that.

Posted by Rick | July 22, 2007 1:38 PM

Kossacks pulled off a corporate teat? Well...

"Screw them. I feel nothing for them."

That's not hate, mind you.


Posted by MarkD | July 22, 2007 4:35 PM

I've got to disagree. Corporations get their money from their customers, and it belongs to their shareholders. I'd be very comfortable with a law forbidding all disbursements to groups or individuals not directly related to a business purpose.

There are a lot of organizations that will never see a dime from me. I'd prefer that donations not be made with my money, just because I happen to own some stock.

Posted by unclesmrgol | July 22, 2007 5:29 PM

Regardless, I won't be flying JetBlue any time soon. I think there are plenty of us on both sides of the spectrum who chose to include ethics and morality in the equation for doing business. The contributions a corporation makes oft times have very little to do with business sense and quite a bit to do with the political leanings of the CEO or the movers/shakers on the board.

Why should I enrich those whose morality is opposed to mine?

I buy neither Kraft foods, Nabisco baked goods, nor Post cereals because all are tainted by Big Tobacco (a favorite Democratic charity and contributor).


We are dealing with issues every bit as divisive as slavery was 150 years ago or whether America ought to be independent a hundred years before that. So you are right -- the underlying problems have to be (and will be) resolved conclusively one way or the other.