Philip Anschutz isn’t often seen or heard in public, so when the AEG principal issues a statement under his name in response to an issue, it’s newsworthy – even if the news is hardly, well, news.
In this case, Uproxx – which describes itself as “a platform for news and culture for the digital generation” – stitched together two otherwise well-known facts: Anschutz is a well-heeled social conservative who donates to such causes, and one of the companies under his corporate umbrella, Goldenvoice/AEG Live, produces the Coachella Music & Arts Festival.
The result is a claim that Anschutz, through his Anschutz Foundation, donates large sums of money to anti-LGBTQ organizations and climate-change skeptics, activities that Uproxx says makes Anschutz “decidedly un-chill.”
The post also suggests that the act of buying tickets to Coachella puts money in their coffers and closes by hinting at a boycott. One of the sources for the posting is a six-month-old story in the Washington Post that reported Anschutz Foundation has donated to Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and the National Christian Foundation – all of which have been connected to anti-LGBTQ activism.
It’s news now, because Coachella just released its 2017 lineup topped by Radiohead, Beyoncé, and Kendrick Lamar. But the call to boycott was too little, too late – the festival reportedly sold out within three hours. But that hasn’t stopped the post from going viral – in the age of Trump’s Tweets, news – particularly if it’s couched in outrage – travels faster than ever.
The next day, Anschutz issued a public statement in response to postings by Huffington Post, Esquire, and innumerable blogs.
“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage,” Anschutz wrote. “I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. “We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.
“Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes. Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”