Connect with us


Media Malpractice: Press And Pundits Get ‘Chick-fil-A vs. Gay’ Story Wrong



Chick-Fil-A has never discriminated. Its CEO, Dan Cathy, in a Baptist Press interview, merely declared his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the Cathy family have been wrongly and viciously maligned in the press.

None of these statements are accurate, despite that pundits, the press, the religious right, and so many Republicans have been repeating them for weeks. The real truth is Chick-fil-A for years has been donating money to groups actively engaged in attacking gay people, advancing the dangerous practice of “ex-gay” reparative therapy, working to prevent same-sex marriage equality, and even supporting a certified anti-gay hate group.


The media repeatedly quote Dan Cathy’s recent statement from “an interview with the Baptist Press.” From NBC to the New York Daily News to Michelle Malkin to Ross Douthat, the source of the interview has been wrongly reported literally tens of thousands of times. Not a big deal, merely an indication of how the media has refused to do its job by fact-checking the simplest issues, like who conducted an interview or where it first appeared.

“Now we have the great Chick-fil-A imbroglio, in which mayors and an alderman in several American cities threatened to prevent the delicious chicken chain from opening new outlets because its Christian president told an interviewer that he supports the ‘biblical definition of the family unit,'” New York Times conservative opinion writer Ross Douthat claimed in Sunday’s paper.

That’s not the half of it, yet the punditry and the press have been happy to repeat and report the tip of the iceberg rather than dig deeper.

The mainstream media have gotten the real Chick-fil-A vs. gay rights story horribly wrong. The habitual stenography practiced by many journalists has become the default, over actual fact-checking, on a story that — were it researched, framed and communicated properly — would be certain to place the $4.5 billion Christian chicken retailer under a far different light.

So, let’s start with some actual facts.

With over 1600 outlets nationwide, Chick-fil-A has been sued for discrimination more than a dozen times. Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president and chief operating officer (contrary to media reports promoting him to CEO) has, on multiple occasions, attacked same-sex marriage. Cathy’s widely-quoted interview was not with the Baptist Press. And I’ve yet been able to find evidence of Dan Cathy and his family being maligned by the press.

The Cult of Chick-fil-A,” a 2007 Forbes profile of Chick-fil-A’s actual CEO, S. Truett Cathy — Dan Cathy’s father — notes the restaurant giant “has been sued at least 12 times since 1988 on charges of employment discrimination” — a fact the media has totally ignored.

CNN’s Carol Costello last week claimed “there is no evidence Chick-fil-A discriminates against gay employees or gay clientele,” in an ugly attack on Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney, and defended Dan Cathy by asking, “why try to destroy his business?”

The Forbes profile notes CEO Truett Cathy would “probably fire an employee or terminate an operator who ‘has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members’,” and says Cathy “wants married workers, believing they are more industrious and productive.” Forbes also states Chick-fil-A’s interviewing process can take up to a year, and include friends and neighbors — so the chances Chick-fil-A actually hiring or franchising someone gay are minuscule.

There are laws in some states and towns against employment discrimination. Yet local politicians from Boston to San Francisco to Chicago to New York have been wrongly annihilated — on First Amendment grounds, no less —  for saying Chick-fil-A is not welcome in their cities.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated last week. “They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

Former constitutional and civil rights litigator and bestselling author Glenn Greenwald characterized Emanuel’s comments as “dangerous.”

Just like with marriage itself, the state licenses and regulates institutions it has a vested interest in supporting. And the state — local, county, state, and the federal government — has a vested interest in protecting society from discrimination. Which is why local governments should exercise their power to withhold licenses from any business that not only engages in discrimination — but promotes it.

Isn’t licensing a business that says it will fire an employee for sinning “dangerous”? Isn’t licensing a business that donates millions of dollars annually to groups that exist to malign, misrepresent, and demonize an entire segment of the population, while actively working to take away their civil rights, “dangerous”? Apparently, Greenwald’s liberal sensibilities need reexamination.

Chick-fil-A’s attacks on gay people stop being a “free speech” issue when those attacks migrate from words to actions.


So what did Dan Cathy say in this now infamous interview? Some excerpts:

“An organization we can operate on biblical principles… [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”

When asked if Chick-fil-A’s success is attributed to biblical values, Cathy quickly said, “I think they’re inseparable. God wants to give us wisdom to make good decisions and choices.”

Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized.

“We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

This is described by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins as merely as a “simple affirmation of biblical truth [which] has sent homosexual activists into a frenzy,” as Jeremy Hooper at Good As You reports. Clearly, Perkins is a pro at anti-gay white-washing, but those comments are merely the tip of the spear.

And according to Scripps Howard News Service’s Terry Mattingly, who is the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Dan Cathy didn’t even discuss same-sex marriage.

“CNN, and others … reported that Cathy made comments, that he spoke words directly addressing gay-rights issues, that he delivered a series of negative, anti-gay remarks. In effect, Cathy is being quoted saying words that he said, as well as words that he did not say,” according to Mattingly.

Dave Weigel writing at Slate, sets the record straight, asking, “why was the Baptist Recorder talking to Chick-fil-A, anyway?

“It was because the company has been criticized for its founders’ opposition to gay marriage. That’s been known for years, as has the WinShape Foundation’s support for NOM and other “traditional marriage” activist groups. In other contexts, Dan Cathy has fretted about legal gay marriage “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.” “Traditional family,” in this context, was a way for the Baptist Recorder to avoid the word gay in an article about a company that uses some of its profits on campaigns against gay marriage. Maybe the meme-ing was lazy, but the story was fair — an example of the media using context to figure out code words and report out a pretty slippery statement.”


Most of the media insisted on reporting Dan Cathy’s comments in a vacuum, devoid of history or context, as if he and Chick-Fil-A had never entered the marriage arena before the July interview.

Let’s look at comments — made at different events just as recently as June of this year — Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy made about gay people, same-sex marriage, and homosexuality.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”


“It’s very clear in Romans chapter 1, if we look at society today, we see all the twisted up kind of stuff that’s going on. Washington trying to redefine the definition of marriage and all the other kinds of things that we go—if you go upstream from that, in Romans chapter 1, you will see that because we have not acknowledged God and because we have not thanked God, that we have been left victim to the foolishness of our own thoughts, and as result, we are suffering the consequences of a society and culture who has not acknowledged God or not thanked God—he’s left us to a deprived mind. It’s tragic and we live in a culture of that today.”

And yet most of the media, pundits, religious leaders, and politicians all ignored these comments.

Angered with the 66-year old chicken retailer, the LGBT community and our allies have long tried to hold Chick-fil-A accountable for both anti-gay statements the 1600-unit chain’s leaders make, and, worse, for the Christian fast food purveyor’s attacks on same-sex marriage, which amount to a years-long multimillion dollar war.

Contrary to how the press, pundits, the religious right, and Republican politicians present the issue — it isn’t just Dan Cathy’s biblical attacks that are problematic. It’s Chick-fil-A’s multimillion dollar financial support of an anti-gay hate group and many organizations that are actively working to kill same-sex marriage.


From 2003 – 2010, Chick-Fil-, though its wholly-owned Winshape Foundation non-profit, has donated $5 million to these organizations whose primary product often is hate.

Unlike Chick-fil-A, many of these groups Winshape supports produce no product. Some work to strengthen the family — but with biblical, anti-gay strings attached. Others offer little tangible benefit to society, doing little more than spewing hate. It’s actually their business model, and when they become really, really good at it, they get an award, from the Southern Poverty Law Center — the same folks who turned the KKK from a national movement into an outlier — “certified anti-gay hate group.”

“Long before Chick-fil-A chief executive Dan Cathy’s recent remarks regarding gay marriage, the Cathy family has been open and active supporters of Christian traditional marriage,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported:

Through their WinShape Foundation, created in 1984, the owners of Chick-fil-A have donated millions to various causes, including Christian organizations dedicated to preserving traditional heterosexual marriages.

What “preserving traditional heterosexual marriages,” means is ensuring same-sex marriage never takes hold — to the point of state-decreed automatic divorces for already-married same-sex couples.

From 2003 – 2010, as Equality Matters has researched and reported, Chick-Fil-A’s Winshape Foundation has made donations to at least seven anti-gay groups whose focus is to push back on efforts to legalize equality, eliminate same-sex marriage, and malign the LGBT community through hate speech. (2003 – 2008, 2009, 2010.)

Winshape even donates money to Exodus International, whose goal is to eliminate homosexual behavior and help homosexual men and women enter into heterosexual marriages. Its work in reparative therapy, also known as “ex-gay” therapy, has been labeled as both ineffective and dangerous by practically every major medical organization.

The Fellowship Of Christian Athletes, the second-highest beneficiary of Winshape’s anti-gay hate money, holds an annual conference during which, they claim, “God freed some people from homosexuality, sexual sins, addictions and even ushered newcomers into His Kingdom.”

Tony Perkin’s Family Research Council annually benefits from donations to Winshape by Chick-Fil-A. It “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.” Family Research Council (FRC) an anti-gay hate group, is certified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which notes:

The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

To make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society, the FRC employs a number of “policy experts” whose “research” has allowed the FRC to be extremely active politically in shaping public debate. Its research fellows and leaders often testify before Congress and appear in the mainstream media. It also works at the grassroots level, conducting outreach to pastors in an effort to “transform the culture.”

But the lion’s share of Winshape support to anti-gay groups goes to another Cathy Family entity, the Marriage & Family Foundation, headed by Chick-fil-A Senior Vice President Donald “Bubba” Cathy. The Cathy’s Marriage & Family Foundation is an arm of Marriage CoMission, whose 2006 research report, titled, “Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business?” explains “why corporate America has a stake in the renaissance of marriage and family in America.”

“What would happen if companies developed effective practices and benefits to grow the relational wellness of their employees; the faith community delivered stronger marriage and family ministries; great media with a winsome, honest message to the culture about marriage and the family saturated our cities; marriage and family service providers collaborated to share their expertise in producing a new generation of amazing resources and services; and city leaders and elders took responsibility for overlapping these efforts within their own community? We believe that a renaissance of marriage and family in America would take place!”

“Business is driven by profit,” the report concludes. “Employees in healthy marriages can increase that profit, while employees in failing relationships decrease that profit. ”

The report also cites NOM, the National Organization For Marriage co-founder Maggie Gallagher‘s 2001 book, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially — which, needless to say, does not advocate for same-sex marriage — and directly notes Chick-fil-A CEO Truett Cathy’s 2006 comment, “You can’t expect people to do well in their business if they’ve got problems at home.â

You also can’t expect people to do well in their business if they know their boss disagrees with the very essence of their being, and is willing to publicly state they would fire them for being gay.

Bottom line: the LGBT community and our allies are demanding greater scrutiny for Chick-fil-A and its other entities, like the Winshape Foundation, not just because of a few words CFA president Dan Cathy said, but what those words add up to.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


Fox News Host Charges Pete Buttigieg With Wanting ‘To Shove Evangelical Christians Into the Closet’ (Video)



‘God Does Not Create People That Way’: Tony Perkins Blasts Buttigieg as ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’

Fox News Radio’s and Fox Nation’s far right wing evangelical host Todd Starnes came out swinging against 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in an interview with hate group head Tony Perkins.

Starnes, who is anti-gay, told viewers, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, who is gay, “wants to shove evangelicals into the closet.”

Buttigieg, who came out in 2015 to help seniors and students who were struggling, has never said that, or anything like that. Starnes is a documented liar.

Meanwhile, hate group head Tony Perkins blasted the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, as Media Matters reports.

“Scripture warns of wolves in sheep’s clothing coming and talking smooth, trying to be all things to all people,” Perkins, the longtime leader of the Family Research Council, said about the South Bend, Indiana Democratic mayor.

Related: Under Trump’s Conservative Christian Cia Director the Matthew Shepard Foundation Is Out, Tony Perkins Is In

“The reality is he’s advocating for policies that are not in line with the Scripture,” Perkins added, criticizing Buttigieg for supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Perkins, who last year announced evangelicals have given President Trump a “do over” for Stormy Daniels, also attacked Buttigieg’s statement that God made him gay. Recently Buttigieg slammed Vice President Mike Pence for his long history of homophobia.

“That’s the thing that I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand,” Buttigieg said, as USA Today reported. “That if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

Perkins went off, saying, the “issue is not that the Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] has issue with the words of Mike Pence. I think he has an issue with the words of Scripture. The Scripture speaks clearly.”

Starnes twisted Buttigieg’s words, saying the the Indiana mayor is “basically telling his crowd there and his followers, supporters that if you support traditional marriage, you’ve got a problem with God.”

Perkins chimed in, saying, “the fact is, God does not create people that way. Now, there’s circumstances that lead one maybe down that path, and I’m not saying anyone would choose that lifestyle. But to say that they were made by God.”








Continue Reading


Watch: Franklin Graham Gets Hammered for Saying ‘I Don’t Know That’ Trump Lies All the Time



“I don’t think the president is sitting there behind the desk trying to make up lies,” Graham says

Rev. Franklin Graham insisted on Wednesday that he had never heard a lie from President Donald Trump.

In an interview on MSNBC, host Craig Melvin pointed out to Graham that The Washington Post counted 8,158 false or misleading claims made by the president during his first two years in office.

“Well, I don’t know how to reconcile that, because I don’t know,” Graham replied. “You have a fact checker for the president but I don’t know if you have a fact checker for the media at the same time.”

“Pastor Graham, you and I both know this president has said things over and over that aren’t true,” the MSNBC host pressed.

“No, I don’t know that,” Graham insisted. “I don’t sit around and try to find every fault in the president every day, looking for everything that he might have misspoken or mis-said. I don’t do that.”

“But you can acknowledge that the president has said things that aren’t true,” Melvin asked.

“I don’t think the president is sitting there behind the desk trying to make up lies,” Graham said. “I don’t believe that for a second. Has he misspoken on something? Sure, all of us do that, you do it, I do it.

“So I think the president is trying to do the best that he can under very difficult circumstances,” the pastor added. “But no one person can fix this, it’s too complex. We need God. As a nation, we’ve turned our back on God.”

Later in the hour, former GOP strategist Rick Tyler slammed Franklin for ignoring the president’s lies.

“I call them lies,” Tyler explained. “In the beginning of the segment, he’s talking about objective truth and what he’s going to get people to believe about objective truth, that is Jesus is the savior of the world and died for our sins. That’s objective truth. At the same time he wants to make excuses about Donald Trump when we know Donald Trump has said things that are just demonstrably and provably false.”

“But there are things that Donald Trump has said over and over again that are just flat out wrong,” he concluded. “I don’t know whether Franklin is being willfully ignorant or is covering for the president but that undermines his message about objective truth.”

Watch the video clips below from MSNBC.

Continue Reading


New Anti-Discrimination Bills Protecting LGBTQ People Will ‘Ban Christianity’ Say Fear-Mongering Conservatives



Claims Legislation Will ‘Ban the Bible’ Are Lies

Conservatives across the country are fighting several Democratic-sponsored non-discrimination bills that would protect LGBTQ people in Texas.

“If you want a sense of where the left is headed nationally, look at what progressive legislators in Texas are trying to do. They want to ban Christianity in all but name,” writes Georgia-based religious extremist and former Fox News pundit Erick Erickson, who now writes at The Resurgent. Erickson is perhaps best known (or should be) for comparing LGBT people to ISIS.

He points to six new non-discrimination bills filed in the Texas legislature. Among them, legislation that would require businesses in Texas to treat employees who are married to a person of the same sex the same way they treat employees who are married to a person of a different sex when allocating benefits packages.

Others require Texas businesses to allow transgender people to use the restroom with which they most-closely associate. Another would require physicians, “even against their conscience,” Erickson warns, to prepare birth certificates that conform to a person’s gender identity.

“Progressives in Texas also want to roll back state protections for faith based adoption agencies,” Erickson writes, warning that adoption agencies wouldn’t be allowed to ban same-sex couples or LGBTQ children.

“If the left is this emboldened in Texas, think about how far they’ll go in your state,” he fear-mongers once again.

KTBS reported in December there were 3800 children waiting to be adopted in Texas. And in 2016 “there were 28,732 children in foster care in Texas,” CBS 19 reports. Erickson would like to make it harder for those children to be adopted, by allowing agencies to reduce the number of possible homes and families they will consider.

Erickson sums up all these bills as the left wanting to “go after” Christian businesses.

Meanwhile, Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) adds more fear-mongering, from Dave Welch, the president of the Texas Pastors Council. Welch appears to claim that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is merely “sexual behavior,” and being transgender is “mental illness,” if we’re interpreting his bigotry accurately:

“The mad dash by some Democrat House and Senate members to push false narratives that sexual behavior is the same as skin color and that mental illness deserves the same honored status as religious belief is ominous evidence that the criminalization of religious faith and common sense are on the horizon.”

That’s of course, false.

And over at the far right wing website The Federalist, James Wesolek claims the bills Erickson warns about “would attack people of faith so aggressively that they can justifiably be described as ‘Ban the Bible’ bills,” which is astonishingly false. He calls wanting to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination “swamp sickness.”

Even though “Ban the Bible” is a lie, conservatives are all over it, even creating a #BanTheBible hashtag.

“These ‘Ban the Bible’ bills at the Texas Legislature shock the conscience and must be stopped,” Nicole Hudgens, senior policy analyst for Texas Values, said, as the conservative website PJ Media says. “Creating more government control and threatening Christians with jail time or fines does not create a tolerant society.”

Texas Values also falsely claims these bills “allow the government to criminalize people of faith,” and “highlight a growing national trend to punish people of faith by forcing them to celebrate LGBT viewpoints or values and reject their own sincerely held religious beliefs on marriage, human sexuality, and life.”





Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license


Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.