CBS Smacks Chick-Fil-A for Values that ‘Ran Afoul of Public Sentiment’ on Marriage

As part of a piece on Friday’s CBS This Morning about the opening of the first freestanding Chick-fil-A in New York City, correspondent Vladimir Duthiers couldn’t help but harp on the company’s conservative Christian values and how they had to supposedly draw customers back “in 2012 when those values ran afoul of public sentiment” after “CEO Dan Cathy affirmed his support for tradition marriage.”

Speaking with Vice President of Product Strategy David Farmer, Duthiers also skeptically asked him if the company would stand in the way of a Muslim or Jewish person who wanted to work for the company (to which Farmer shot back that what only mattered was whether they wanted to serve others and build a business). 

Duthiers reported from inside the new NYC location and provided a short primer on the company’s history: “That service started in 1967 when S. Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-a was opened in Atlanta, Georgia. Truitt died last year but the company remained family owned and they still adhere to Cathy Christian values.”

After Farmer told Duthiers in a soundbite that the chain restaurant famous for the chicken sandwich always is constantly looking to “get out there and earn it all over again on a daily basis,” Duthiers jumped on that point to tout how “they had to do [that] in 2012 when those values ran afoul of public sentiment.”

He then ran a soundbite from CEO Dan Cathy backing traditional marriage “on a conservative radio show”: “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant, attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Completely ignoring the overwhelming crowds on the grassroots-organized Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1, 2012, Duthiers hyped: “Marriage equality supporters staged protests and boycotts. In response, the company stopped donating to several conservative groups.”

Farmer replied that the company is “really just trying to back away from politics and say there are people in a better position to do that” as “[w]e’ll stick to what we know and that’s what we are trying to practice now.”

Despite that, Duthiers had to inquire about any pitfalls non-Christians might face if they wanted to work at a Chick-fil-a: “So somebody who is a Muslim or Jewish could become an operator of Chick-fil-A? That’s not an issue?”

In response, Farmer simply stated: “Oh, absolutely. What we love to know, do you love serving people? Are you excited about getting out there and helping build a business? That’s what we are interested in.”

After the piece, co-host Norah O’Donnell admitted that she “never had Chick-fil-A” as co-hosts Charlie Rose and Gayle King also owned up to never patronizing the place known for its chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, lemonade warm cookies, and milkshakes.

Co-host Gayle King added that watching Duthiers’s story “makes me want one” with Rose agreeing that it would be nice “just to see what it is.” King then wondered aloud: “Where have we been hanging out?”

The relevant portions of the transcript from CBS This Morning on October 2 can be found below.

CBS This Morning
October 2, 2015
8:42 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: On a Wing & a Prayer; Chick-Fil-A Takes a Bite Out of the Big Apple]

GAYLE KING: Chick-fil-A, which has more than 1,900 stores nationwide, is unveiling its first freestanding franchise here in New York City. Vladimir Duthiers of our digital network CBSN is inside the restaurant right now that will compete with more than 7,000 other fast food eateries in the Big Apple. Vlad, good morning. 

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: Good morning. This three-story, 5,000 square foot restaurant with the eight registers you see here behind me officially opens tomorrow. This is a chain that doesn't have a lot of restaurants across the country but it is looking to take on some of the most biggest and most discerning markets. It's the exact same sandwich Chick-fil-A invented over 50 years ago. A breaded fried chicken breast served on a buttered bun with two pickles. It has a loyal borderline obsessive following.

(....) 

DUTHIERS: That service started in 1967 when S. Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-A was opened in Atlanta, Georgia. Truitt died last year but the company remained family owned and they still adhere to Cathy Christian values. David Farmer is Chick-fil-A’s Vice President of product strategy. 

CHICK-FIL-A VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCT STRATEGIES DAVID FARMER: Truett used to say he thinks of Chick-fil-A as a business that is consistent with biblical values and he would say those are the good business values too.

DUTHIERS: While Chick-fil-A has just a fraction of the restaurants McDonald’s does, they make $500,000 more on average per store. They sell more chicken than Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

FARMER: We have to work really, really hard. We can never rest on the success we have had in the past. We don’t – millions of transactions every day. We have got to get out there and earn it all over again. 

DUTHIERS: Which they had to do in 2012 when those values ran afoul of public sentiment. In several interviews, CEO Dan Cathy affirmed his support for tradition marriage. He said on a conservative radio show 

DAN CATHY: I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant, attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.

DUTHIERS: Marriage equality supporters staged protests and boycotts. In response, the company stopped donating to several conservative groups. 

FARMER: We’re really just trying to back away from politics and say there are people in a better position to do that. We’ll stick to what we know and that’s what we are trying to practice now. 

DUTHIERS [TO FARMER]: So somebody who is a Muslim or Jewish could become an operator of Chick-fil-A? That’s not an issue? 

FARMER: Oh, absolutely. What we love to know, do you love serving people? Are you excited about getting out there and helping build a business? That’s what we are interested in. 

(....) 

O’DONNELL: I never had Chick-fil-A. 

GAYLE KING: Makes me want one. 

CHARLIE ROSE: Makes me want one as well. Just to see what it is.

KING: Where have we been hanging out? 

O’DONNELL: I know. 

NBDaily Culture/Society Business Coverage Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Protesters Religious Right Sexuality Homosexuality Same-sex marriage CBS CBS This Morning Video Chick-fil-A Gayle King Charlie Rose Norah O'Donnell Vladimir Duthiers Dan Cathy
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