A member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recently found himself in hot water over Black Lives Matter.
As relayed by Yahoo! News, Phil Berk wasn’t just a member of the group of international journalists responsible for the annual Golden Globes; he’s its past president.
Now he’s none of the above.
On April 19th, the Los Angeles Times noted South-African-born Phil had sent an email criticizing BLM.
He compared the organization to “a hate group.”
Phil purportedly shared a post labeling BLM a “racist hate movement” and describing co-founder Patrisse Cullors as “the self-proclaimed ‘trained Marxist'” (which, to be clear, she is).
That message was mailed to members of the association as well as faculty, its general counsel, and Chief Operating Officer Gregory Goeckner.
The timing, per the Times, wasn’t ideal:
The email lands at a sensitive time for the HFPA, which has come under pressure for not having any Black members as well as allegations of ethical and financial lapses raised in a Times investigation into the group. Last month, the group behind the Golden Globe Awards pledged to make “transformational change” and retained a strategic diversity advisor, Shaun Harper, a professor of racial, gender and LGBTQ issues at USC’s Marshall School of Business, and an outside law firm, Ropes & Gray, to audit and review its policies and membership requirements and bylaws. The HFPA, which in recent weeks has reached out to the National Assn. of Black Journalists and NAACP, plans to announce a set of reforms on May 6.
Phil didn’t cite his post’s source, but the Times reports it was originally published as “BLM Goes Hollywood” — by FrontPage Mag, conservative commentator David Horowitz’s Freedom Center’s website.
Dick Clark Productions — which, with NBC, runs the award show’s broadcast — was unimpressed.
It issued an internal email:
We unequivocally condemn the actions and words of a member of the HFPA. We have called upon the board to take swift and decisive action. We also indicated that this response should serve as an example of how they intend to act on member behavior that violates their recent commitment to reform and improve racial equality. We have been working for months with the organization to guide and push them toward meaningful change. While we had remained hopeful about progress, this is a very real reminder that there are members who don’t support this work. That is unacceptable.
Fast-forward to a press release:
We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, artists, journalists and executives who have been hurt or overlooked by the HFPA. We are disgusted by the racist rhetoric disseminated by a member yesterday. We were encouraged by the very strong statements the HFPA previously made around improving their organization around issues of racial reform and equity. The actions and statements of this member are inconsistent with the direction that the HFPA has publicly said it has embarked upon.
NBC took an official stand as well:
NBC strongly condemns Phil Berk’s actions and is calling for his immediate expulsion. While we continue to await the details of HFPA’s upcoming plan for reform, swift action on this front is an essential element for NBC to move forward with the HFPA and the Golden Globes.
Both the Peacock and DCP called for Phil to be expelled.
Mere hours later, he was.
Mr. Berk was more than just your average former chief; he’d presided over the HFPA eight times.
Nonetheless, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had to choose: its member or NBC and Dick Clark Productions; its erstwhile president or Black Lives Matter.
It weighed the odds and went with what Mattered most.
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