Skip to main content

‘Thug' Comment About Unions Appears in NetCoalition Handout

A blog posting on Andrew Breitbart's Web site
and reproduced for circulation as a handout under NetCoalition letterhead takes
aim at the backers of antipiracy legislation, identifying them as the Motion
Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry of Association of
America, and "a host of union thugs."

NetCoalition was a major player in the pushback the Stop Online Piracy Act
(SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act that resulted in both bills being tabled, for
now. Members of the coalition, according to the group's Web site, include
Google, Yahoo!,, eBay, IAC, Bloomberg LP, Expedia and Wikipedia.

Among the unions that supported the bill were the American
Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio
Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of
Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied
Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE), Screen Actors
Guild (SAG), and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

Harbinson, point person on the bills for union IATSE, had seen the handout and
was not happy. "It is an outrage that people who ostensibly fought the
fight against [antipiracy legislation] on free speech grounds turn around and
characterize working people who exercise their own free speech rights to
advocate for a bill that will help preserve and expand their jobs 'union
thugs,' what the hell is that?"

spokesperson for the coalition said the document was prepared from the blog for
the coalition by an outside consultant and they were not happy with it.

a follow-up statement, NetCoalition Executive Director Markham Erickson
elaborated and apologized for the way the piece was circulated, which also did
not identify that the text was from Breitbart.

Wednesday, a NetCoalition media consultant, Black Rock Group, prepared a
handout in connection with an appearance before a conservative
organization," said Erickson on a statement. "The handout is a
reproduction of a blog post that ran on Andrew Breitbart's "Big Government" website
on January 23, 2012. The blog post
contained a derogatory reference to union members. NetCoalition neither wrote
nor approved the blog post or its appearance on NC letterhead.

should never have happened and we are stunned and deeply sorry that it
did.  Throughout our efforts on piracy legislation, we have kept our
objections focused on policy rather than politics.  We remain committed to
achieving consensus on legislation to address the issue of online piracy. We
recognize that consensus is achievable only when all parties are treated with
respect. The events of yesterday have no place in that effort and we again
sincerely apologize for them. We have adopted internal controls and taken other
steps to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."

was not assuaged saying he did not see a disavowal in the statement.
 "One of the things that struck me as ironic was that while the
NetCoalition seems perfectly willing to call the men and women who will soon be
getting Oscars for their contributions "thugs," there is no
denouncement of cyberterrorist group, anonymous, which took down the Web sites
of groups who were pushing this bill."