ABC Praised Free Speech of ‘Spirited’ Dixie Chicks, Slams Chick-Fil-A for ‘Firestorm’
(Newsbusters) Even as Democratic official like Rahm Emanuel promise to use their government power to punish Chick-fil-A, Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos and Ron Claiborne on Thursday derided the fast food chain’s president for speaking out against gay marriage, chiding the “firestorm” and food fight” the company has created. [See video below. MP3 here.] In contrast, the same program in 2006 praised the “spirited” and “unbowed” Dixie Chicks for expressing their First Amendment rights by trashing then-President Bush.
Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos insisted that CEO Dan Cathy’s comments in support of traditional marriage have “sparked a firestorm across the Internet.” Reporter Ron Claiborne mocked, “This food fight, George, is very rapidly turning into a full scale culture war.” Claiborne listed Roseanne Barr, as just another celebrity, along with Ed Helms, who has spoken out against Chick-fil-A. He failed to mention Barr’s deranged rants, including tweeting that “anyone who eats S–t Fil-A deserves to get the cancer.”
Claiborne’s report included one clip of Cathy defending himself, but also played up Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, “vowing to block the opening of a new Chick-fil-A” and proclaiming that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not our values.” The journalist ignored the obvious First Amendment aspect of this story.
CNN, however, did not. On Starting Point, panelist Will Cain explained, “…This is a blatant, easy, open and shut case of a First Amendment violation in Chicago. You cannot deny permits to someone based on their political opinion. You just simply cannot.”
CNN even allowed Cain to get in this shot: “Rahm Emanuel is also the one who is the little tyrant opposed to the First Amendment as well…Tyranny comes in the form of good intentions.”
Lawyer Mark Geragos added, “All they are doing is trying to regulate this guy’s speech.”
In contrast, then-co-host Diane Sawyer fawned over the First Amendment struggles of the Dixie Chicks. On May 23, 2006, Sawyer spun their attacks on George W. Bush this way:
‘Three years ago, as everyone knows, [Dixie Chicks] lead singer Natalie Maines said — about the impending war in Iraq — said she was ashamed that President Bush was from her home state, Texas. The reaction to her words was seismic and from some people even vicious….[Today] they are spirited, unbowed and they are back with a new single called ‘Not Ready to Make Nice.”
— Sawyer introducing a taped interview with the Dixie Chicks on ABC’s Good Morning America, May 23, 2006.
In the piece, Thursday, Claiborne featured Eric Bovim of Gibraltar Associates Public Relations. The PR exec lectured that if a company is going to speak out, they need to make sure that the “constituency that you’re offending isn’t active and isn’t vocal and isn’t going to come out against you.” The journalist also compared the situation to when JC Penney was pressured to dump the gay Ellen Degeneres as a spokeswoman.
For that story, on May 12, 2012, Claiborne did a report on the controversy. He featured the same hectoring Bovim. The segment played up the “modern marketing.”
NBC’s Today only covered the Chick-fil-A story in a news brief. Hoda Kotb noted, “A Chicago official has joined the mayor of Boston in vowing to block Chick-Fil-A from opening restaurants in other cities.” She added that “Activists on both sides plan demonstrations next week at Chick-Fil-A stores nationwide.” CBS This Morning did not cover the story.
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