FreedomWorks Bullies GEICO To Axe Voice Over Actor

For Immediate Release:

GEICO voice over actor targeted by Tea Party members
after expressing opinion on FreedomWorks voicemail

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 21, 2010 — Los Angeles actor, D.C. Douglas, says he was dropped from the upcoming GEICO “Shocking News” campaign after a group of Tea Party members harassed him and the insurance giant over a private voicemail the actor left for FreedomWorks. Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, posted Mr. Douglas’ cell phone number in a blog post on biggovernment.com, instructing readers to “Feel free to contact (him)… call his employer too. Let them know that you…are now in the market for car insurance.” The next day, GEICO held auditions to replace Mr. Douglas’ voice on the campaign.

Mr. Douglas’ message hardly warranted the mobilization of the Tea Party Movement. Upset by the recent gay and racial slurs slung by Tea Party members at Congressman Barney Frank and Representative John Lewis during the Health Care Reform Weekend, Mr. Douglas left his opinion of FreedomWorks’ staff and followers on their company voicemail and included his phone number.

“I called as a private citizen to make a complaint,” explains Mr. Douglas. “Racism and homophobia are my Achilles heel, but unfortunately my message included inappropriate words and I am sorry for that. However, telling their members to harass my employer to get me fired is an egregiously disproportionate response to my actions.”

Mr. Douglas believes his connection to GEICO, a company already on FreedomWorks’ boycott list for pulling their ads from Glenn Beck’s show, is the main reason he was targeted so forcefully. “Even though I left the message during the week of March 23, the harassing calls didn’t hit until April 14, the morning after I posted about my GEICO campaign on my Facebook page.”

However, how the firing of a voice over actor constitutes a Tea Party success remains a mystery, as Mr. Douglas points out. “It seems to me that they’re more about the politics of destruction than they are about affecting positive change for the country.”

“I do want to make one thing clear,” Mr. Douglas adds, “I don’t blame GEICO for protecting themselves. They have a business to run and can’t waste time getting caught up in FreedomWorks’ circus. And they’ve been very good to me in the past.”

Mr. Douglas consulted with several Los Angeles attorneys and has been advised that FreedomWorks’ actions were questionable. Though he’s not planning on spending money to sue the organization, he’s open to any attorneys taking on this case pro bono. “We can’t let these kinds of tactics become the norm in our country. If we do, then anybody can lose their job just for voicing an opinion.” And Mr. Douglas won’t be silenced; he has posted his personal take on the events on his blog: www.DCDouglasBlog.com.

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12 Responses to FreedomWorks Bullies GEICO To Axe Voice Over Actor

  1. For the record, the link to usconstituationalfreepress was not added by me. It’s “automatically generated” as a “possibly related post.”

    But since it’s there, you can see the original blog post that crossed the line legally by publishing a private phone number and a private recorded message, and encouraged people to drop their insurance with Geico because of his association with the company.

    It’s disgusting and outrageous that someone like the individual who runs that blog would stoop so low in retaliation over a private voicemail that expressed an opinion.

  2. Dan Nims says:

    I agree. This is ‘over the top.’ In a pluralistic society such as ours, it is highly impractical to force a ‘litmus’ test on every merchant or service provider to ensure that they fit your profile of ‘political correctness.’

    Free speech requires the tolerance of citizens to ‘occassional hear what you don’t want said.’ Campaigning for the dismissal of an employee because he is ‘not in your camp’ is wrong.

  3. ShadowWing Tronix says:

    I can’t really root for anyone here. While I have no doubt there are in fact some “bad apples” in the bunch, most of the Tea Party movement are not as portrayed, and there have been reports of “plants” purposely trying to make them look bad. Sometimes it really is a war of ideals.

    On the other hand, while I certainly don’t agree with what the actor did, getting him fired like that seems just as jerkish (to put it mildly). I don’t know if Freedom Works are liberal targets or bad apples, but stuff like this will only be used by Tea Party critics to make the movement as a whole look bad, and sadly this isn’t out of context or a lie but an actual stupid move. I would have just laughed him off and pointed my attention at the real problem.

  4. StoicLion says:

    Craig, weren’t Mr. Douglas’ comments and behavior more disgusting? He purposely left his phone number on the message AND admitted using insulting language. Ironically, he demonstrated behavior against an organization accused of the same but with no evidence. That’s a definition of “projection”. Freedom Works made his behavior public; it was GEICO’s decision to release him.

  5. @stoiclion: No, I don’t believe Douglas’ comments or behavior was “more disgusting” than FreedomWorks’ abusive and ridiculously over-the-top retaliation.

    FreedomWorks probably gets hundreds upon thousands of irate calls. Why did they single out one individual among them, and then publish his private phone number and voicemail (easily enough grounds for a lawsuit) and call for GEICO to fire him?

    I’m not defending what Douglas did. He makes his own case for that on his blog. But I am appalled by how FreedomWorks responded to something so insignificant.

    And to anyone else reading this who is considering adding their opinion, I will not publish any comments which use inappropriate and unnecessary language, attack me or anyone else who has posted here or call me “stupid and ignorant” for publishing a press release.

  6. StoicLion says:

    @Craig, it may be insignificant to you. Apparently, Freedom Works and GEICO thought differently. A person, company or organization as the right to protect its reputation against slander and scurrilous attacks. You do so by not posting comments you deem inappropriate. Freedom Works chose public humiliation. Mr. Douglas should count himself lucky Freedom Works isn’t bringing a civil case against him. Maybe the pro bono lawyer he’s looking for will tell him that.

  7. @stoclion: Again, please consider that FreedomWorks gets HUNDREDS of irate and sarcastic calls. Why select some random person for public humiliation?

    And why use such questionable and ignoble tactics to humiliate him?

    And a civil case over a voicemail? Please. People like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh would have to take up permanent residence at a court house if they did that.

    Heck, if your logic follows, I would have a civil case for some of the inappropriate comments submitted here that you won’t see published.

    Seriously, I would’ve just dismissed the phone call as a prank and moved on. I refuse to believe they haven’t gotten calls like that in the past.

    It’s because they found out that “Lance” was a *somebody* that they retaliated.

    Douglas’ opinions are his own and this situation is his to deal with, not mine. But FreedomWorks could have taken the issue up with him privately rather than publishing his voicemail and his private phone number. Heck, they put it up on youtube for crying out.

    Also, people forget that Douglas wasn’t a “spokesperson” for GEICO. He was a hired voice. We wouldn’t even know that it was Douglas’ voice behind the spots if GEICO had not granted him permission to be credited for it because GEICO certainly never acknowledged it publicly. Most companies don’t disclose that info unless it’s a celebrity.

    He’s not like a Disney Channel star where they have to sign an agreement that they will behave a certain way. He was simply a hired voice. So whatever he chooses to do in his free time, he’s perfectly free to do so.

  8. StoicLion says:

    We see things differently. To me, your comments seem flippant. I sympathize with Freedom Works because I’ve had to defend my reputation before. I could not simply ignore it and hope it went away; and, I did not have the luxury of a sympathetic ear (or media, in Mr. Douglas’ case). People thought I was taking things too seriously but with persistence, I preserved what only I could.

    I hope you never experience that, Craig. Sometimes, it’s not as easy as choosing not to post messages. And if you do, I hope people on the other side don’t dismiss your efforts as “questionable” and “ignoble”.

  9. Your opinion of my comments is wrong. They aren’t casual remarks and I don’t make them lightly. I also have had to defend my reputation which is why I side with Douglas on this, and not just because he happens to be a voice actor.

    I support him because I don’t believe FreedomWorks was trying to “defend their reputation.” Douglas left an anonymous voicemail that would never have been made public were it not for the fact that FreedomWorks seized on his connection with GEICO and exploited it to meet their agenda. Considering the fact that they must surely constantly receive complaints, negative outbursts and sarcastic phone messages, I find their reaction unnecessary and horrendous.

    As I have already said, Douglas must deal with the outcome of his own actions. While I would agree that his approach was harsh, I still don’t believe it warranted the kind of response he got from FreedomWorks. I don’t see how anyone could believe this was the first time they’ve received a voicemail like that. Again, I would’ve simply dismissed it as a prank and moved on.

    And just as a way of comparison, I haven’t listened to his radio show in quite some time but conservative talk show host Sean Hannity had a bit on his show where he would play the angry messages left on his voicemail. He even created a specific 1-800 number just for them. They were irate, sarcastic, spiteful, ridiculous, outrageous and often downright hateful. And the message Douglas left pales greatly in comparison to them.

    Hannity never identified the callers, never publicly defended himself against comments and opinions that were completely wrong and unfounded, and he used them as entertainment on his show.

    FreedomWorks’ reaction, however, was the complete opposite.

    But I won’t drag this discussion out any further. I’ve said my piece. This is an entertainment blog, not a political one. I nearly didn’t publish this press release because I knew it could draw unwanted attention to my blog from sources that have no interest in this blog’s product. I was fully aware that I’d end up with trolls looking to start an argument.

    But I felt Douglas’ situation warranted media exposure and thus why I posted it here.

    Hopefully, Douglas and FreedomWorks will be able to settle this quickly and without a long, drawn-out legal process. Two wrongs of course don’t make a right, but I believe FreedomWorks’ reaction was unnecessary and that they should be held accountable for their questionable and extremely over-the-top backlash.

  10. normanx says:

    The idea that the private expression of an employee of any company can result in their being fired is horrible and scary. BUT.. it lead me to investigate my rates with GEICO… I went to the State of California web page that compares auto insurance rates… and found insurance for the same coverage at HALF what GEICO was charging me. HALF!… your results may vary… but…. money is money… and freedom of expression is freedom of expression. Personally, I would have dropped GEICO anyway, even if I had to pay more.

  11. StoicLion says:

    If Mr. Douglas wanted anonymity, he should not have left his phone number. Whatever his motivation for leaving the message on the Freedom Works’ voxmail, he was hoisted by his own petard (to paraphrase Shakespeare).

    But you’re right, let’s make this the last comment on this topic. I am neither a troll nor am I a newbie to voice-over and voice actors. I enjoy your blog, which is why I’m here. And I have been a fan of voice actors for well over 2 decades. I didn’t come here to challenge you or anything of the sort.

  12. D.C. Douglas says:

    Actually, I think this serves as a good “last word” on the subject: A Tea Party PSA.

    @StoicLion, I left my number because I wanted to hear from them and see if they defended their misinformation campaign (see any death panels yet?). I didn’t want them to publish it. I’d be fine if they just put out their blog post (even rife with conflations and errors, as they did). But a phone number?

    @Craig, I appreciate your level-headed reaction and ability to parse nuance.

    But, alas, it’s all in the past now. I still work and have met a lot of great people because of it. It felt good to stand behind my words. On the other hand, FreedomWorks still doesn’t reveal their corporate sponsors.

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