Following all three network morning shows on Monday declaring home improvement chain Lowe's was "sparking outrage" by pulling ads from TLC's All-American Muslim, on Tuesday, NBC's Today offered a report on the controversy, with co-host Ann Curry proclaiming: "Lowe's is facing a growing backlash this morning after pulling its advertising from a reality show featuring an all-Muslim cast."
On November 9, Today news anchor Natalie Morales interviewed the cast of the show and wondered: "Did you feel that there were a lot of misconceptions out there in America today still, especially after 9/11, about Muslims in America?...Do you all still feel that way today, that there are stereotypes, that there is an injustice when it comes to how Muslims are perceived and how it feels to be Muslim in America?"
In response, cast member Nawal Aoude announced: "Yeah, definitely. And you know, with this show hopefully we'll break some of those stereotypes."
On Tuesday, correspondent Kevin Tibbles noted: "In a statement, Lowe's says 'All-American Muslim has become a lightning rod for people to voice complaints'....In Dearborn [Michigan], where some 30% of the population is of Arab descent, hurt and anger."
Here is a full transcript of Tibbles' December 13 report:
ANN CURRY: Retail giant Lowe's is facing a growing backlash this morning after pulling its advertising from a reality show featuring an all-Muslim cast. NBC's Kevin Tibbles is in Chicago with the latest on this story. Hey, Kevin, good morning.
KEVIN TIBBLES: Ann, Lowe's says it dropped the ads because the show had become a lightning rod for complaint. But the home improvement giant had also been targeted by a Florida group whose leader claims, and I quote him here, "the show was spreading Muslim propaganda."
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: All-American?; Lowe's Under Fire For Dropping Ads on Muslim TV Show]
It's a reality show that looks like many other reality shows on TV. A slice of life in America, five people from Dearborn, Michigan and all of the ups and downs along the way. It's called "All-American Muslim" on TLC, a window into the world of America's Islamic community. One of its stars is a 32-year-old judicial aide for the Dearborn district court, Suehaila Amen.
SUEHAILA AMEN: Hoping to dispel the misconceptions and stereotypes that people have of Muslims in this country.
TIBBLES: But one Florida organization accuses All-American Muslim of trying to undermine American values.
DAVID CATON [PRESIDENT, FLORIDA FAMILY ASSOCIATION]: Islam is a progressive ideology that wants to dominate the world.
TIBBLES: The Florida Family Association launched an online campaign encouraging followers to petition the show's sponsors to pull their ads.
CATON: We are concerned that Americans are being fed propaganda that's not complete, as it relates to Islam.
TIBBLES: Home improvement giant Lowe's is the latest in what the group claims is a list of some 65 advertisers who've left.
AMEN: It's just sad that people feel that they need to respond to bigots.
TIBBLES: In a statement, Lowe's says "All-American Muslim has become a lightning rod for people to voice complaints" but adds, "we have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we're proud of that longstanding commitment. If we have made anyone question that commitment, we apologize." In Dearborn, where some 30% of the population is of Arab descent, hurt and anger.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I think it's wrong of, like, them to think that Muslims are terrorists.
TIBBLES: And trending on Twitter, "I see that Lowe's has caved to those promoting ignorance and intolerance." Also, "Last time I checked, this was still the United States of America, where businesses are free to advertise where and how they want."
Hip-hop artist and successful businessman Russell Simmons tweeted: "Just purchased remaining spots for All-American Muslim for next week. The show is now sold out! Keep your money, Lowe's, and we will keep ours."
Now, Lowe's says it's not going to go back on its decision on this. Interestingly enough, a number of the other companies involved say they didn't drop their ads, they just didn't have any ads purchased in the first place. Ann.
CURRY: Alright, Kevin Tibbles. Thank you so much for that story.
Here is a full transcript of Morales' November 9 interview:
NATALIE MORALES: Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, many Muslim-Americans are still struggling with overcoming stereotypes and misconceptions. But now TLC's latest reality show, "All-American Muslim," is taking you inside the homes of five Michigan families for a revealing look at their lives, loves and laughs.
[CLIP FROM "ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM"]
MORALES: Nawal and Nader Aoude are here along with their castmates Jeff and Shadia McDermott and Nina Bazzy. Good morning to all of you. Good to have you here.
CAST: Good morning.
MORALES: And you've had the baby, we see, so all came out well.
NAWAL AOUDE: Yes.
MORALES: We're going to talk about that in a moment. But, Nader, why did you decide to do this show? I'm curious because it's hard to cast your – put yourself in a reality show.
NADER AOUDE: I – we – my wife and I believed that it was the perfect opportunity, the perfect time, and you know, the network, TLC, was so trustworthy and we really believed that they were going to show the perfect story about Arab-American Muslims.
MORALES: And, Nawal, did you feel that there were a lot of misconceptions out there in America today still, especially after 9/11, about Muslims in America?
NAWAL AOUDE: Yeah, definitely. And you know, with this show hopefully we'll break some of those stereotypes.
MORALES: Do you all still feel that way today, that there are stereotypes, that there is an injustice when it comes to how Muslims are perceived and how it feels to be Muslim in America?
NADER AOUDE: Yes, absolutely.
NAWAL ADOUDE: Yes, definitely.
MORALES: Yes. And, Shadia, I'm looking at you back there.
SHADIA McDERMOTT: Yes.
MORALES: I know you call yourself sort of the black sheep in the family.
McDERMOTT: I guess.
MORALES: We see you've dyed your hair, you've got some tattoos and all. Is it hard for you to be a Muslim but yet still stand out?
McDERMOTT: You know, Islam is given in a way that you can – that the rules are given to you and you use them the way that you see fit and you're, you know, you're supposed to follow them a certain way but it's between you and God at the end of the day.
MORALES: Mm-hmm. And I know that you and Jeff, Jeff was Catholic but he converted to Islam...
McDERMOTT: He did.
MORALES: ...when you got married.
MORALES: Why was it important for you as somebody who describes yourself as the black sheep, but it was important yet to have that tradition of having him convert?
McDERMOTT: The way that I look is – was where you get the black sheep thing that I have been named since I was young, but my faith with God is just as strong as any other Muslim, and you know, I want to raise my kids Muslim.
McDERMOTT: And I believe in the values and morals. And as a duty as a Muslim parent, that's what you should do and Jeff was great enough to help do that by agreeing to convert.
MORALES: Jeff, has the culture surprised you so far?
JEFF McDERMOTT: Not really because growing up in Dearborn I was immersed in it so it was around me all the time.
MORALES: Mm-hmm. Well, Nina, I see you don't wear a head scarf and I know your mother does.
NINA BAZZY: Yes.
MORALES: And I think you say in the show that you feel sometimes that you're being judged by other Muslims by not being Muslim enough. Explain that.
BAZZY: That is true. Sometimes I do feel that way, but my relationship is with God, and I'm comfortable saying I am a Muslim, and I am a modern Muslim woman.
MORALES: And the message again, Nadal – or Nadal – Nader and Nawal, what is it that you want people to take away from the show?
NADER AOUDE: We hope that All-American Muslim – and it'll do a great job of this – we hope that it removes the misconceptions and ultimately looks at us as not only Muslims but as a loving father, supportive husband.
NAWAL AOUDE: New mother.
NADER AOUDE: New mother.
NAWAL AOUDE: And a loving wife.
MORALES: And you want your three-month-old now to live in a world that's more accepting and acknowledging of...
NAWAL AOUDE: Yeah, I want him to be comfortable in his own skin.
NAWAL AOUDE: I want him to grow up being comfortable being a Muslim.
MORALES: Well, we appreciate all of you being here again this morning for us.
NAWAL AOUDE: Mm-hmm.
MORALES: Good luck with the show.
NAWAL AOUDE: Thank you.
BAZZY: Thank you.
MORALES: Again, it's Nawal, Nader Aoude, Nina Bazzy, and Jeff and Shadia McDermott. Thanks again, guys.
CAST: Thank you.
NAWAL AOUDE: Thank you so much.
MORALES: Good to have you here. The show, by the way, is called "All-American Muslim." It premieres Sunday night at 10 Eastern on TLC.