Meet the Press Panel Eagerly Hits GOP Over Religious Freedom Laws

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, an all liberal panel repeatedly took shots at the Republican Party over its support for religious freedom laws with Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report going so far as to suggest that on the issue on the issue of gay marriage “if we took everybody over the age of 50, and just moved them out of this country, this wouldn't be an issue at all.” 

Moderator Chuck Todd explained that many within the evangelical community “feel as though a lot of Republicans pay them lip service” and do not truly support them on social issues. Todd noted that "when the going gets tough, the first part of the Republican constituency that gets abandoned is evangelicals.”  

Amy Walter went one step further and suggested that the GOP has lost the cultural battle altogether:

The tipping point has been reached and that tipping point is done, which is this is not an issue on which Republicans can win. They could a few years ago, they can't now. And even when you look at evangelical younger folks, they have moved on on this issue too. So if we took everybody over the age of 50, and just moved them out of this country, this wouldn't be an issue at all. Even for younger evangelicals. 

The piling on against the GOP continued with Matt Bai of Yahoo News declaring last week to be a “very bad week” for the party and maintianed that Republicans are in real trouble in the long run: 

The Republican Party where it found itself this week is behind the curve of this society, behind the curve of history. And you saw that in the reaction of businesses who came out immediately because they understand where their markets have gone. And I think for me any political party to find itself in that position is really problematic at this stage. 

As the segment progressed, the panel played up how much of the business community abandoned the GOP over the religious freedom debate, including Walmart, which Helene Cooper of the New York Times called “fantastic” before she peddled the liberal line that the GOP has a problem with moving too far to the right in the primary: 

I think the problem, and you raised a perfect point with the primary. I think so much of this was about the primary versus the election. And what you saw here are a lot of politicians who really are much more worried about the primary than I had expected. 

At no point during the discussion did a single member of the panel bother to consider the deeply held religious beliefs of people of all faiths that inspired such religious freedom bills. Instead, the Meet the Press panel continued the liberal media’s repeated criticism of social conservatives as being out of touch with modern society. 

See relevant transcript below. 

NBC’s Meet the Press

April 5, 2015

CHUCK TODD:  Let's bring in the panel, Matt Bai, Helene Cooper, Amy Walter, Perry Bacon. Alright Perry, what did we learn about the Republican Party this week on this issue?

PERRY BACON: Lots of nervousness, a, because you saw Mike Pence, Jeb Bush, Asa Hutchinson, good politicians, people who won a lot of elections, all this week had to change and move their position on the issue and fast like Jeb Bush in 48 hours. You learn also that the Republican Party has always had the evangelical wing which focuses on abortion, gay marriage, versus the business wing. And those groups are usually not in conflict but there was a real conflict this week and you saw the business part of it really won and evangelicals are very angry. They feel that this is a weakening of their movement more broadly.

TODD: You know Amy, I'll tell you, I've been hearing this from evangelicals for some time. They just feel as if a lot of Republicans pay them lip service and this is more proof that when the going gets tough, the first part of the Republican constituency that gets abandoned is evangelicals. 

AMY WALTER: And you saw Ted Cruz making that case exactly. This is his whole strategy. 

TODD: You know, look at abortion, the same thing they feel the same way. 

WALTER: Here is the point. The tipping point has been reached and that tipping point is done, which is this is not an issue on which Republicans can win. They could a few years ago, they can't now. And even when you look at evangelical younger folks, they have moved on on this issue too. So if we took everybody over the age of 50, and just moved them out of this country, this wouldn't be an issue at all. Even for younger evangelicals. 

MATT BAI: There is an idea. 

WALTER: We have just lost everybody. 

TODD: Matt, I was just going to -- the Republican Party, though, better that they had -- having this debate now than in 2016, obviously. 

BAI: That is the definition of the bright side, yes. I agree with Amy. I think it was a very bad week for the Republican Party. I really do on a larger scale. I mean, I can see why for governors it makes some sense to go the route he's going, he wants to curry favor with that evangelical base, and it’s consistent with his political beliefs. But as Amy says, this corner -- the Republican Party where it found itself this week is behind the curve of this society, behind the curve of history. And you saw that in the reaction of businesses who came out immediately because they understand where their markets have gone. And I think for me any political party to find itself in that position is really problematic at this stage. 

TODD: Pragmatism versus conviction Helene. The problem is in a primary, those voters want conviction, they don't want pragmatism. 

HELENE COOPER: I think the problem, and you raised a perfect point with the primary. I think so much of this was about the primary versus the election. And what you saw here are a lot of politicians who really are much more worried about the primary than I had expected. Particularly the Jeb Bush flip flop in particular I thought—

TODD: Now they argue, by the let me put in a caveat here, because I accused him of flip-flopping, their folks pushed back and said wait a minute, had he been allowed to explain himself further on Hugh Hewitt, he would have provided more context. I’m just giving their point of view. They don't believe it’s as much of a flip-flop as we in the media portrayed it. 
COOPER: Well, you know how we in the media how we tend to portray things. 

TODD: We in the media. Fair enough. But I think the Jeb response is telling. You have Silicon Valley and we know where Silicon Valley is on this. We know the entire California Republican establishment is. 

WALTER: Even where Walmart is on there. 

COOPER: The Walmart thing is fantastic. 

WALTER: There was a time at which, and we used to say this at the Cook Report when you were trying to divide the country into blue and red. It was a Starbucks America versus Walmart. America. And now Walmart America and Starbucks America have aligned. And you know, again, in the '80s it was Democrats who were behind the curve on cultural and social issues. Now it is Republicans and they’ve got to balance that. They can, but they got to figure out the right way to do it. 

TODD: And if you're looking at a poll, the easiest thing do is look at where independents are because the two sides are so polarized now, the blue and red. And it really is where are these independents. And on same sex marriage the look more like Democrats than they do and Republicans.

CyberAlerts Religion Anti-Religious Bias Christianity Sexuality Homosexuality NBC Meet the Press Helene Cooper Perry Bacon Amy Walter Matt Bai Chuck Todd