Advertiser blasts TLC for ‘Muslim’ series

Kayak.com alleges net misrepresented TV show

A company that withdrew its advertising from the controversial TV series “All-American Muslim” is alleging that cable channel TLC was misleading about the nature of the show.

Kayak.com, an online travel firm, blasted the Discovery Communications-owned network in a statement Wednesday clarifying its decision to pull commercials that run during “Muslim” in previous weeks.

“TLC was not upfront with us about the nature of this show,” wrote Kayak chief marketing officer Robert Birge in a blog post on his company’s website.

A spokeswoman for TLC declined comment.

On Tuesday, Kayak found itself caught up in the growing backlash enveloping retail chain Lowe’s, which also admitted to withdrawing advertising from the TLC series.

Birge confirmed Kayak is no longer advertising on the series, but his statement makes clear that decision is motivated by animus toward TLC — not the Muslim religion.

“We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn’t let us know their intentions,” wrote Birge. “That’s not a business practice that generally gets repeat business from us.

“I also believe that it did this subject a grave disservice. Sadly, TLC is now enjoying the attention from this controversy.”

Kayak’s rebuke of TLC marks the first harsh words directed at the network, which has managed to avoid the criticism flooding Lowe’s. All the network has said during the controversy is that the series continues to draw strong support from advertising.

Birge went so far as to offer a stinging review of “Muslim.” “Mostly, I just thought the show sucked.”

Variety had a far more generous assessment of the series, which premiered in November. Critic Brian Lowry praised “Muslim” for “putting a humanizing face on the religion amid persistent and even politically sanctioned Islamophobia.”

An e-mail from a Lowe’s representative to advocacy group Florida Family Assn. prompted the widespread impression that Lowe’s pulled the ads because the org complained the series offered a misleading depiction of Muslims in America.

Lowe’s has since issued a follow-up statement denying that its decision to pull the ads was at the behest of the FFA, but that has done little to scotch public outcry that the company’s decision showed prejudice against Muslims.

Added Birge, “Based on our dealings with TLC and the simple assessment of the show, I decided we should put our money elsewhere.”