Nets Cheer Springsteen Bullying North Carolina Over Religious Freedom Law

On Sunday and Monday, all three network shows hailed rocker Bruce Springsteen’s decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina as further evidence of the “firestorm” and “growing backlash” against religious freedom laws recently passed there and in other states.

On ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday, co-host George Stephanopoulos proclaimed: “We’re going to turn now to the firestorm over North Carolina's so-called bathroom law. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert there this weekend and some are now calling on the NBA to move its All-Star game too, as critics say the law discriminates against gay and transgender residents.”

In the report that followed, correspondent Steve Osunsami went out of his way to praise Springsteen: “This morning, The Boss is changing everything. Bruce Springsteen, the rock legend who honors veterans and stands up for heros, is refunding concert tickets today in protest of the new North Carolina law that rolls back protections for gay families and it stops transgender residents from using the bathrooms they need.”

After reading a quote from Springsteen denouncing “those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards,” Osunsami touted how “His band is speaking up, too.” A soundbite played of E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt declaring: “You gotta hurt people economically to have them do the right thing morally. We’re going to try and stop this right now, hopefully other people will rise up and join us.”

The reporter piled on: “Basketball hall-of-famer Charles Barkley agrees. This morning, he's saying the NBA should move next year's All-Star game somewhere else.”

Wrapping up the segment, Osunsami made it clear the press was expecting boycotts from other celebrities: “Lawmakers here say they feel like they're being bullied. Selena Gomez, the Bieber, and others have concerts scheduled here for now. Singer Bryan Adams has canceled a concert in Mississippi after that state passed a similar law that goes even further.” Stephanopoulos chimed in: “We have not heard the last of this.”

On CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell announced: “The rock legend called off his show last night in Greensboro because of a new law limiting legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Springsteen said in a statement, quote, ‘Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry is one of them.’”

Correspondent David Begnaud observed: “The Boss, never shy about taking a social or political stand, dropped the show from the schedule because of North Carolina's new law.”

Like Osunsami, he highlighted: “Steven Van Zandt stood in solidarity with his legendary band leader, saying it was a difficult decision to cancel, but necessary.” In the clip that followed, Van Zandt ranted: “It’s a shame it comes to that, but this sort of thing is spreading like an evil virus around the country.”

Begnaud heralded other musicians following suit: “At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this weekend, Matchbox 20 front man Rob Thomas suggested the message to North Carolina is clear.” Thomas told reporters: “This is going to affect the commerce of your state, this is going to affect the infrastructure because less money is going to come into your state.”

Like the ABC story, the CBS report ended on the expectation that others would join the intimidation effort: “Justin Bieber, Dolly Parton, and Beyonce all have concerts coming up here in the state of North Carolina and we wondered are they going to cancel, too. Dana, we called their camps, no comment yet.”

Fill-in co-host Dana Jacobson remarked: “Probably not the last time that we will be hearing about this either.” O’Donnell agreed: “Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what impact that has on the legislature.” Charlie Rose added: “With entertainers or businesses.” Jacobson concluded: “And other states as we go forward as well.”

NBC’s Today aired a similar story on Sunday, as co-host Sheinelle Jones asserted:

Now to the growing backlash against various religious freedom laws that are either newly on the books or being considered right now. Bruce Springsteen is the latest public figure to weigh in after North Carolina enacted its law dictating which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. But as NBC’s Sarah Dallof reports, everyone from celebs to big businesses and everyday people are weighing in.

Correspondent Sarah Dallof noted: “This morning, Springsteen fans in Greensboro, North Carolina are out of luck after The Boss canceled his show scheduled for tonight, citing his opposition to a controversial new state law critics say removes protections from gay and transgender people.”

Clips ran from Scott Simpson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “These bills have popped up all over. There's been over 100 anti-LGBT bills introduced in states just this year....It’s not only the business community, you have the civil rights community, you have people of faith, and you have everyday folks.”

Dallof hyped: “Springsteen's not the only Hollywood heavy weight joining in.” A soundbite played of Ellen DeGeneres telling her audience: “And we all want the same things: Love, acceptance, kindness.” Another from liberal actor and director Rob Reiner: “It’s exactly the same as the civil rights movement.”

Concluding the segment, Dallof stated: “The debate between civil rights and religious freedom moving swiftly from state house to streets, and now to center stage.”

Here is a full transcript of Osunsami’s report on the April 11 GMA:

7:11 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to turn now to the firestorm over North Carolina's so-called bathroom law. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert there this weekend and some are now calling on the NBA to move its All-Star game too, as critics say the law discriminates against gay and transgender residents. And supporters argue it defends religious liberty and decency. ABC's Steve Osunsami is on the scene in Raleigh. Good morning, Steve.

STEVE OSUNSAMI: Good morning to you, George. The list of big businesses threatening to pull work from this state continues to grow – Apple, Google, Paypal. But supporters of the law have their own list, mostly small businesses like real estate agents and lawn care services. The battle lines are drawn.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: North Carolina Law Sparks Outrage; Bruce Springsteen Cancels Concert in Protest]

This morning, The Boss is changing everything. Bruce Springsteen, the rock legend who honors veterans and stands up for heros, is refunding concert tickets today in protest of the new North Carolina law that rolls back protections for gay families and it stops transgender residents from using the bathrooms they need.

He canceled last night’s sold-out show in Greensboro on Friday, explaining on Facebook that, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” His band is speaking up, too.

STEVEN VAN ZANDT: You gotta hurt people economically to have them do the right thing morally. We’re going to try and stop this right now, hopefully other people will rise up and join us.

OSUNSAMI: Basketball hall-of-famer Charles Barkley agrees. This morning, he's saying the NBA should move next year's All-Star game somewhere else.

CHARLES BARKLEY: I'm supposed to stand up for the people who can't stand up for themselves. So, I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from Charlotte.

OSUNSAMI: The game alone is worth $100 million in business.

ELY PORTILLO: With each event that's canceled, you get the direct impact of hotel rooms that are no longer being booked. Then you get further ripple effects, such as entertainment canceled, restaurant reservation cancellations, even things like cab spending to concert goers from one place to another.

OSUNSAMI: The Governor and his many supporters are fighting back, saying their critics have been just fine with similar laws in other places.

GOV. PAT MCCROY [R-NC]: They demonized our state for political gain.

OSUNSAMI: Calling the bathroom issue a safety concern for girls. Lawmakers here say they feel like they're being bullied. Selena Gomez, the Bieber, and others have concerts scheduled here for now. Singer Bryan Adams has canceled a concert in Mississippi after that state passed a similar law that goes even further. George?

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have not heard the last of this. Okay, Steve, thanks very much.

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