Already under fire for its failings over membership diversity, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organisation behind the Golden Globes, has been forced to apologise after its former long-term president emailed a copy of an article to members that called Black Lives Matter a “racist hate group”.
According to the LA Times, Phil Berk, who served eight terms as the HPFA president, ending in 2011, shared a copy of an article from rightwing website Frontpagemag.com, which described Black Lives Matter as a “racist … hate group” and claimed that the movement is carrying out the “race war” that Charles Manson aspired to start.
In its statement, the HFPA said: “The views expressed in the article circulated by Mr Berk are those of the author of the article and do not – in any way shape or form – reflect the views and values of the HFPA. The HFPA condemns all forms of racism, discrimination and hate speech and finds such language and content unacceptable.”
The LA Times reported that a number of HFPA members responded angrily to Berk’s email, with one writing “The vile rhetoric contained in this screed is simply unacceptable”, and another calling Berk “a thundering disgrace”.
The crisis engulfing the HFPA began shortly before the Golden Globes award ceremony in January, when an LA Times report accused the organisation of a lack of diversity in its membership as well as “ethical lapses” in the way it conducted its business. The HFPA’s subsequent pledge to add “Black and other underrepresented professionals to [the] organisation” and improve “transparency” over its voting and membership processes, was deemed inadequate by high-profile film industry campaign group Time’s Up. In March a large group of influential Hollywood PR agencies said they would boycott the Golden Globes, the primary source of the HFPA’s income, unless the HFPA made “profound and lasting change”.